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Easter attacks revealed ailment eating into Sri Lankan society

The deaths of 269 people showed the mistrust between races and religions and the need for us to unite

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Colombo

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Colombo

Published: April 22, 2021 03:59 AM GMT

Updated: April 23, 2021 07:34 AM GMT

Easter attacks revealed ailment eating into Sri Lankan society

Catholic priests and nuns carry photographs as they pay tribute to the victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings at St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo on April 21. (Photo: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP)

Nine suicide bombers affiliated to local Islamist extremist group National Thowheed Jamath targeted three Christian churches and three luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019, killing 269 people and injuring more than 500.

On the second anniversary of the Easter attacks, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, gave the following speech at a remembrance ceremony at St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade:

April 21, 2019, will enter history as a day that cannot be forgotten. We stress the need not to put under the earth the whole effort to discover who and what were behind these attacks.

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We are surprised that even after two years answers to the questions of who, why and what lay behind these attacks have not been found by the relevant authorities.

We have to stress that what is happening at the moment, which is an uncaring attitude where all the factors are not properly investigated or coordinated in an organized pattern from day to day according to each day’s fortunes, is not going to satisfy our questions.

Very often we see that there are political reasons behind some of the investigations stalling.

It is important for the nation to have the answers to these questions as soon as possible.

It is important that we work together as religions, not one against the other

From the day of the bombings, the Catholic Church, bishops’ conference and myself have acted in a way to reflect the noble values that our Lord Jesus Christ taught us.

The faith that Jesus taught us to forgive and to pray for our detractors is something that has always led us and will lead us continuously.

We defeated the attempt made by different political and other forces to create animosity between Christians, Sinhalese and Muslims. We are happy that we have not acted in a way that would have led to a disaster.

We have to remember that we have always advocated that we must not hit back at our detractors because that would lead to violence and unnecessary uncontrollable situations.

We have to remember with gratitude the support and the solidarity which especially our Buddhist clergy and Buddhist brethren stood with us on that occasion.

It is important that we work together as religions, not one against the other. That is why our relationship with the Buddhist community is one of special significance to us.

Even though we wish to forgive, we would like to know who was behind the attacks and what really happened.

We should know who did it, whether they repent about their actions and whether they are worthy of receiving our pardon for whatever they have done.

The faith that Jesus Christ gave us requires us to come to know the truth because Jesus said that He is the truth.

It is our belief that what impeached the transparent process of inquiries into this matter was political fostering and the need to safeguard alliances.

We organized the Black Sunday program on March 7 in order to stress that we are still looking for the truth about these events.

These attacks caused the death of people of all religions, races, languages and groups including foreigners

The events that happened, the 269 people who died, revealed to us an ailment that is eating into Sri Lankan society of mistrust between races and religions and the need for us to unite.

These attacks caused the death of people of all religions, races, languages and groups including foreigners.

It is a clear fact that [suicide bomber] Saharan Hashim blasted himself not in a place where one religious group was present but where all types of people were there. We have to examine why he did not blast himself inside a church but chose to do so inside a hotel, killing not only Catholics and Christians but so many others including Muslims and Malays.

It becomes clear therefore that all these attacks are not necessarily what they say they are — but something more than what they say they are.

I wish to make a special appeal to our Muslim brothers. Understand the global situation in such organized crimes that they are not necessarily in favor of you. Rise up to defend yourselves from those who use even Islam for their own purposes.

You understand, dear flock of the Muslim religion, that a few days after the Easter Sunday attacks, there was an attempt to rouse up feelings against the Muslim community. We got involved and prevented disturbances on that occasion too.

Therefore, it is important for us to reveal what really stands behind these attacks, not what is on the surface only.

We wish to assure those who died and those who are suffering that we will never abandon you. We will continue our struggle until a comprehensive investigation is conducted and those responsible are brought to book. Afterwards we will discuss the need to pardon those who attacked these innocent people.

PHOTO GALLERY: Sri Lankan Catholics remember Easter attacks

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