Sri Lanka Needs Peace And Unity To Combat Hate

As a British Sri Lankan, I was heartbroken by the Easter attacks – my family there are living in fear about what the future holds for the country

The horrific terrorist attacks which occurred last week on Easter Sunday has left us all shaken and distraught. It was reported that 253 people were killed and 500 injured following suicide bombs on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. As a British Sri Lankan myself, I am absolutely heartbroken seeing that innocent babies, children, men and women have been killed senselessly and were targeted by these cowardly and deplorable terrorists. Since last week, I have been unable to sleep properly thinking of all the victims, families and friends of those affected. I have family in Sri Lanka who we were due to see in the the summer and who live in fear about what the future holds for the country.

I stand united in solidarity with the Christian community and the entire Sri Lankan and international community affected by this tragedy. It is heart-breaking to think that anyone should have to face being attacked in their own place of worship, in hotels whilst on holiday or whilst working or getting together with family and friends.

As a Muslim, we completely renounce all forms of hate and extremism and are our faith teaches us to stand against it. I want to send a strong message to these terrorists who carry out such atrocities in the name of Islam that they are going against the very tenets of the faith they claim to be part of. The Qur’an explicitly states that “Whoever kills a soul it is as though they have killed the whole of mankind” [Qur’an 5:32]. Writer Craig Considine, in Newsweek quite rightly mentions that the Prophet sought protection of Christians during his lifetime and states “Muhammad made it clear to the Christian Najrans that he will commit himself “to support them, to place their persons under [his] protection, as well as their churches, chapels, oratories, the monasteries of their monks, the residences of the anchorites, wherever they are found, be they in the mountains or the valleys, caves or inhabited regions, in the plains or in the desert.” The attacks in Sri Lanka carried out by National Thowheed Jamath, a local extremist group and claimed by Daesh is antithesis to the teachings of Islam and it is imperative that we work together as one community to combat terrorism in all forms.

Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has shown an exemplary and peaceful example by calling on people to stay united, stating in an interview that, “God has created man for others and every person is a reflection of God, but these incidents are insults to humanity. We pray for peace and coexistence and understanding each other without division.”

Muslim-Christian relations in Sri Lanka have always been harmonious and this is what the Cardinal and other leaders of the Church wanted to ensure would continue amidst national anguish. Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims got together to donate blood, held peace walks and vigils and some Sri Lankan Muslims invited Christians to pray in their mosques holding banners that read “Our respect and gratitude to Rev Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith this mosque is open for your mass. We stand against extremism and terrorism”.

On my visits to Sri Lanka I have always felt the warmth and friendliness of the people, the fact that people from all faiths and no faith live alongside one another peacefully was a testament to the country. This tragedy has affected the entire Sri Lankan and global community and must not be exploited by those who want to pit communities against one another, as this would be playing into the hands of those who seek to divide. It is up to the community to come together, show solidarity and help one another to overcome the pain in order that we build a better future, one of peace and unity in Sri Lanka and around the world.


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