Panegyrized for its glory and serenity, Mother Lanka stood erect making her children proud as ever, continuing to attract countless tourists every day. The SLTDA reports the approximate number of tourists by March in Sri Lanka to be 740,600 compared to last year where it had been 707,924. Something to be extremely boastful about, isn’t it? While this remains as one, we recently commemorated the launching of RAVANA 1 which brought back for a moment the declining state of the most sophisticated, technologically and culturally advanced culture and civilization that our Island once possessed, marking Sri Lanka’s entry into the Global space age.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka’s president promised that the government would be marking May 2019 as the “10th anniversary of dawn [of] peace after the 30-year war”. While the country looked flourishing from a drone-view; green and lush and people went about with their daily activities, confronting their own life struggles, 21st of April 2019 became a dark day for the citizens of Sri Lanka turning their lives upended.
A series of devastating bomb explosions occurred on Easter Sunday morning on April 21, targeting multiple churches around the country and three luxury hotel complexes in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The churches that were under attack:
- St. Anthony’s Church in Kochikade
- St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo
- Zion Church in Batticaloa
The luxury hotel complexes that were under attack are reported to be:
- Shangri-La hotel in Colombo
- Kingsbury hotel in Colombo
- Cinnamon Grand hotel in Colombo
Media reported of 2 other additional bombings that took place later on the same day, in front of the Dehiwala Zoo, a hotel in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia and a house in Mahawila Gardens in Dematagoda.
That sums up to a total of 8 bombings, 6 that took place consecutively, one after the other from 8.00 am to 8.45 am and 2 others that happened with a gap of one hour later that afternoon.
As confirmed, ‘among the injured are a large number of churchgoers and several foreigners.’
According to Daily Mirror reports, the authorities have revealed that the six explosions occurred that morning were suicide attacks. At Shangri-La hotel, CCTV footage showed two men detonating C4 explosives weighing at least 25kg at the cafeteria and corridor. Sources also confirmed that the investigators who broke into the room of the suspects in Shangri-La recovered materials used by radical extremists.
Not having completely celebrated the termination of Civil war in the country, the civilians of this beautiful Island are now perturbed by the mass killing of several innocent lives with more than 500 people injured and the death toll reaching 359.
Frustration, pain and the agony that these attacks have left the people with, paved way, to numerous questions.
- Who did it?
- Why did they do it?
- Why the minority?
All these questions and more, eventually lead to people forming their own assumptions while some even grew to an extent on pointing fingers at other individuals and groups.
The agony then turned into racial frustrations, with the preposterous lot forming against another minority of the country and holding them accusable for the atrocity caused.
Keyboard warriors have begun their never-ending opinion wars while virtual heroes have started fighting to suppress yet another Civil war turning into a racial conflict.
While the whole world despite the racial differences have stood up to mourn for the innocent lives lost, the officials are held accusable in the end and ‘compensation’ has been promised for the dead lives, while questions and facts still rover around everybody’s minds. Questions that have to be answered not only for the sake of the dead but for the sake of protecting and preventing more lives from being lost in the future.
What let the racial pot boil over has to be demolished. People, including children, have to be fed with education on multicultural unity and taught that religion, terrorism, and extremism are different concepts. That such concepts are incomparable.
The Easter Sunday attack has not only opened the eyes of people to let down tears but have also in my point of view, opened minds to understand that racism and extremism are yet to be eradicated from this country and from the world in whole in order to maintain peace.
The dead lives are to be remembered, to be cherished. The lives of the rest of all civilians are to be protected. Mother Lanka is to be protected. Democracy is to be protected. Evil cannot be eliminated with evil and hence, as Sri Lankans or most of all as human beings in general, everyone must stand upright to demolish evil and corruption through truth and kindness, through solidarity and brotherhood. We must altogether despise the racial differences, keep in mind that we are not just Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Burghers, Moors or individuals and groups from different ethnicities but we are Sri Lankans. Sri Lanka is our possession; we are entitled to protect it together as one.
We must not stand against one another but together we must stand against the malefactors who are roaming about freely, together!
Buddhism says, “And what is right action? Abstaining from taking life, from stealing, and from illicit sex [or sexual misconduct]. This is called right action.” (Saccavibhanga Sutta)
Islam says, “God does not forbid you from showing kindness and dealing justly with those who have not fought you about religion and have not driven you out of your homes. God loves just dealers. ” (Quran, 60:8)
Hinduism says, “Ahimsa (non- violence) is the highest ethical principle in Hinduism – it refers to violence on a personal level – one should never use violence as a means of conflict resolution.”
Christianity says, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath” (Romans 12:19)
While these are only selected verses and facts from the different religious principles, we must all understand that all religions preach one message to the entire mankind and that is peace and not terrorism or extremism.
The world that mourns for one another in dismay must turn into a beautiful place of peaceful living with the thought that We, as One, shall not leave place for terrorists and extremists. We shall NOT blame the religion or its followers but become knowledgeable enough to differentiate between a religious follower and an extremist.
The future undoubtedly is in our hands.
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Nuha Faiz is from Kandy, Sri Lanka, a teacher by profession and an ardent writer. She is on the process of completing a collection of poetry and short stories and also, working on her first novel.