Interfaith people from across the world have come together to declare that the real face of religion is the very opposite of the hate that moved terrorists to bomb three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.
WHAT HAPPENED ON EASTER SUNDAY
On Easter Sunday, suicide bombers killed at least 253 people and injured some 500 at churches and top-end hotels across Sri Lanka. Most victims were Sri Lankans, but at least 38 foreigners are among the dead, including British, Indian and US citizens. The official death toll had reached 359 by Thursday. However, the Sri Lankan government then revised the figure down, blaming a calculation error. Evidence mounted that local jihadists linked to the Islamic State (IS) group carried out the attack, and police have made a number of arrests.
WHO WERE THE ATTACKERS?
On Monday Sri Lankan authorities said they believed a little-known local militant Islamist group known as National Thowheed Jamath was to blame. On Tuesday, IS said it had carried out the attacks, and released video of men it says were the bombers, pledging allegiance to the group. All but one of the men can be seen with their faces covered. Some are holding knives. The man with his face uncovered has been named as Hashim, who went on to blow himself up at a hotel in Colombo.
MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS SHOULD COME TOGETHER TO FIGHT EXTREMISTS
There is an urgent need that religious communities respond together, rather than singly. As all of communities have been affected by extremist voices, religious leaders must declare they are “rejecting all forms of hatred, violence and discord.” In reality, both Islam and Christianity speak of peace, love and justice for all humanity.
TERRORISTS HAVE NO RELIGION
In wake of the attack on churches, Imams and Muslim leaders have come forward to condemn what happened in Sri Lanka. They have said “According to Qur’anic teachings, all religious places are sanctuaries. It is abhorrent that this peace is disrupted, sanctity is violated, and lives are shattered by terrorists who belong to no religion nor subscribe to any moral ideals.
DAMAGED MINDSETS ARE REMOVING HUMANITY
The attacks on the mosques in New Zealand, followed by the attacks on churches in Sri Lanka, along with the ongoing violence faced by Christian and Muslim communities in Nigeria and other parts of the world are all the result of a damaged mindset that removes the humanity of the next person and instead replaces it with an enemy that needs to be destroyed. Any place of worship, should it be a mosque, a church, a temple or a synagogue, must be a place of sanctuary, peace, love, happiness, full of worship and praise to the Almighty. No worshipper in any place of worship should have to worry about whether the person next to them will trigger a bomb or whether the next person through the door will have assault weapons that could wipe out every single person present, or whether an army or a government will destroy my place of worship.
HAS INHUMANITY BECOME IRREVERSIBLE?
In wake of the Sri Lanka church attacks, the questions that worry commoners range from Why has the world come to this? Has humanity reached a stage of inhumanity that is irreversible? It cannot be and it should never be allowed to reach that stage. Hope rests in the thousands who respond to such barbaric acts by uplifting and looking after their neighbours regardless of their skin colour, race, nationality or religious identity.
THE TORCHBEARERS OF HOPE
As citizens of one planet, the hope rests in those Muslims who made rings of security around churches in Egypt when misguided persons sought to attack the Coptic Christian community there. Hope is restored with Christians who stood guard at mosques in New Zealand the following Fridays after the tragic events there last March. The faith is stronger when both Christians and Muslims responded with help to Jewish communities in the United States after attacks on their synagogues. The resolve must be to work together to ensure it doesn’t happen. The conversations have to continue and the determination reinforced.
Zeba Warsia – NMTV News.