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Easter Sunday Massacre in Sri Lanka

What happened in Sri Lanka on this black Easter Sunday, in a series of well-orchestrated and coordinated terror attacks on churches and other locations, is an unforgivable and brutal tragedy of catastrophic proportions. A deadly wave of suicide bombings ripped through many churches and few leading hotels in the capital Colombo, as well as in many other parts of the country, making, an otherwise serene, ‘Easter Sunday’ the darkest day in recent history. At least 290 people were reported killed, with 500 injured in this dastardly terror attack. The spate of senseless killings and terror attacks on innocent civilians, on a day when Christians were engaged in reflection and prayer, deserves severe condemnation by people of all faiths, which brought back ugly memories of the bloody chapter of an inhumane war which engulfed Sri Lanka for over three decades in its recent history. It is the height of depravity to target worshippers on their holiest days, proving that terrorists have no race or religion, and that perpetrators of these terror attacks speak for no one but themselves.

The Easter Sunday massacre was certainly a shocking tragedy. Sri Lanka appears to be heading towards another chapter of terror and violence after a period of relative peace and calmness since the end of a bloody war in 2009. However, what causes much concern and fear is that the potency of terror lies not in the act but in the aftermath. The act is death and destruction, horrendous in itself. The response is what gives it political traction. All that the terrorists want is the oxygen of publicity and for the nation to go berserk, declare emergencies, tear up freedoms, and organise attacks on the people at the grass-root levels who have nothing to do with the massacre, thus, creating mayhem in the already wounded nation by the scars of war. By capitulating to these desires, the country would vastly increase the power of terror – and the likelihood of imitation.

The government has imposed a state of emergency and a curfew to maintain law and order, as well as to prevent communal tensions, as there are fears that the Easter Sunday bombings could spark fresh sectarian violence. The state of emergency will grant police and the military extensive powers to detain and interrogate without court orders and was in force at various times during the civil war that raged from 1983 to 2009. As well as this, there are bans placed upon social media to prevent any dissemination of conspiracy theories and misinformation. Still, the government and intelligence services are being blamed for ignoring many prior warnings regarding preparations for an operation of this magnitude. One of the local militant groups immediately accused of orchestrating the massacre was National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ), which was reportedly warned of by local Muslims, according to a top Sri Lankan police officer.[1]

However, the more worrying aspect is rather the very nature, patterns, timing, planning, and execution of these despicable attacks. They clearly show tell-tale signs of a greater machination at work beyond mere cat’s paw involvement, aimed at creating further mayhem and disharmony among people who are recovering from the wounds of war and post-war communal violence. There are many factors which cause concern: the fact that many churches and members of one religious group were targeted; the manner in which the attacks had been orchestrated simultaneously across Sri Lanka (the level of ‘sophistication’ of which was not seen even in the days of the ruthless Tamil Tigers); and the targeting of leading tourist hotels in the capital. They bear the hallmarks of expertise and professionalism, perhaps with international affiliations and a vested political and economic agenda, rather than the work of ordinary lone wolves, psychopaths, or a small hate group; which raises much suspicion about the possibilities of many ‘outside’ interests.

In the backdrop of a history of anti-Muslim violent attacks by ‘extreme’ Buddhist hate groups in the recent past, Amarnath Amarasingam, a senior research fellow with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, tweeted:

The government has, thus, sought foreign assistance to trace the bombers’ international links.

‘Terrorism’ is far from a new phenomenon – neither in Sri Lanka nor elsewhere in the world. ‘Terrorism’ is nothing but the random murder of defenceless non-combatants, with the intent of instilling fear of mortal danger amidst a civilian population as a strategy designed to advance political ends. A philosopher Ted Honderich, in his controversial book ‘After the Terror’, says, “their (victims) deaths were not the first intention of their killers, but necessary in the carrying out of another intention, a justified one. Their very first intention may indeed be, achieving their political ends.”[2] Thus, there is no doubt that terrorism, as Honderich suggests, is a subset of politically motivated violence that falls short of conventional war, and is both internationally illegal and, to say the least, morally questionable. It is, therefore, not possible to discount the possibility of political scheming too in carrying out this despicable Easter Sunday massacre, in order to gain narrow political ends and stay in power, especially when talks of another round of elections are in the air.

In the backdrop of these untoward developments, Muslims of Sri Lanka, who have also been regular victims of terror in the post-war period, are now in a renewed state of fear and insecurity. With media sensationalism playing both locally and globally—borrowing ideas from a powerful Islamophobia industry—the emerging situation shows signs of a social volcano waiting to erupt. It is too early to find out the intricate details of what led to this shameful chapter in the history of this Island, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. However, in this confusing scenario, the peaceful mainstream Muslims now wake up to the reality that it is imperative, even belatedly, that they stand up to and confront the evil of a small fringe group amongst them. For the moment, both Muslims in Sri Lanka, as well as Muslim diaspora groups worldwide, are expressing their solidarity and offering support with their grieving Christian neighbours and other victims of this tragedy. This is undoubtedly the most challenging chapter in Sri Lanka’s recent history, and there is now an increase of public activism Sri Lanka, which asks the country’s political and religious leaders to follow the example of New Zealand Prime Minster Arden, whose calmness, compassion, and tough leadership style were praised by observers in the wake of the worst mass killing in her country’s modern history.

Something must also be said about the stark contrast between the global reaction to the destruction of symbols of European Christianity in the form of the Notre Dame fire and the destruction of non-European dark-skinned Christian bodies and lives. Let this be food for thought.

Sri Lanka will have to figure out how to move forward so that events like this one do not recur. Things like ‘terrorism’ are complex issues of our time, and as other countries around the world have seen, they lack clear solutions: gun bans do not end violence; cracking down on social media does little to deter racism or hatred, and stigmatisation and demonising communities do not work. On the contrary, it is a concerted plan of action and public activism, across racial or religious divides, that is needed. They will do the right things: avoid emotional outbursts, ensure people are alert to the evil elements amongst them, expose this evil, and forge unity among people to confront it, all whilst ensuring common values of humanity are protected at all costs. For the mainstream Muslims of Sri Lanka showing solidarity and resoluteness in healing the scars of the wounded nation, the foremost challenge is to project the real message of Islām in the public domain, confronting false propaganda media narratives from the clutches of radical and ‘extremist’ elements.  As Muiz Bukhary, a well-known Sri Lankan scholar, says: “we need to work hard to put things right”.[3]

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/sri-lanka-blasts-national-thowheed-jamath-njt-group-blamed-for-sri-lanka-serial-blasts-2026988

[2] https://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctytho/MeiselsTheTroubleWithTerror.html

[3]https://www.facebook.com/muizbukharyofficial/videos/315597076000315/UzpfSTE0NDU4OTU4NjA6MTAyMTk0ODE5NjgxODY5NTE/

About Lukman Harees

4 comments

  1. Ahmad, God your English grammar is so BAD. I have corrected some of your errors in your typical superior diatribe against living in a modern western country like the UK. This is the UK not a province of Pakistan, Bangladesh et cetera. I have written to you numerous times about your scathing attack on anything western.

    In Islam, there is no commandment to kill people by making such allegations against them. The cartoonists had exercised their freedom of expression, and freedom of expression is totally allowed in Islam. Even during the Prophet’s time, there were several instances of ridicule, however, the Prophet and his Companions neither punished such persons nor asked anyone to do so. On every occasion of this kind, the Prophet’s Companions always tried to positively disseminate the message of Islam. They never tried to punish these people. The killing of those people who had published the cartoons is a gravely un-Islamic act in the name of Islam.
    Islam does not support terrorism under any circumstances. Terrorism goes against every principle in Islam. If a Muslim engages in terrorism, he is not following Islam. He may be wrongly using the name of Islam for political or financial gain. The Prophet Muhammad said, ‘Do not kill women or children or non-combatants and do not kill old people or religious people….Muslims Against Terrorism requests media not use phrases such as “Islamic Fundamentalists” or “Muslim Terrorists” regarding terrorist attacks “Because such things do not exist. Islam is the religion of peace, love and mutual respect. Islam is the religion of moderation. Islam is the religion of human value and dignity.” They ask that religious affiliation not be mentioned in terrorist attacks.
    The British establishment is wrong in thinking that Imams are to blame for extremism. Imams are not a solution to the problem for extremism. Extremism is nothing to do with Imams. Extremism is not created from abroad, it is coming from within. Britain fails to help Muslim communities feel part of British society. Race trouble is being predicted by the Daily Express, because of an ethnic boom in UK major cities. Muslim communities need imams for the solutions of their needs and demands in their own native languages. Muslim parents would like to see their children well versed in Standard English and to go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. The fact is that the majority of Muslim children leave schools with low grades because monolingual teachers are not capable to teach Standard English to bilingual Muslim children. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to become notoriously monolingual Brit.
    Just think and ask your self who is responsible for all these attacks terrorism. if we are blaming Muslims for terrorism who created this term terrorist for Muslims only?
    Remember lass Vegas shooting but it was not terrorist attack according to your propaganda government because the attacker was not a Muslim guy.
    When US UK RUSSIA ISRAEL KILLED thousands and thousands of innocents in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Palestine, Pakistan Chechnya, so don’t we think one of those men who lost everything in air strikes and firing by all these countries will not take revenge?
    Its human nature if we anyone don’t get the justice he will move for other options.
    People crying for western countries but they never cried for all those innocent people’s of victim countries.
    JUST STOP INVADING AND OTHER COUNTRIES .we all know that all these countries were developed and were living peacefully before the invasion of US.
    Please tell me the difference between a bunch of Muslims killing innocent civilians, and drones sent by the West massacring entire families in Pakistan and Afghanistan. When ‘they’ kill, it’s terrorism, when ‘we’ kill, it’s necessary in order to ‘protect our way of life’. Blatant hypocrisy.

  2. So sorry to see. Extremism has no religion, no colour, no race. It is so sorry that our christian brothers have been targeted. It is believed that some external and internal forces are behind this. I do not know if it is done with or without support of outsiders, yet, it is terrific bad. Islam and Muslims do not have any connection for this brutal attack. Islam does not allow taking lives of innocent people. A true Muslim will never do this.

    This is what happens when you understand the texts without contexts, This is a shame to all Muslim community. To apply Islamic teaching into this community in Sri Lanka. This tells us some thing went wrong in our reading into text. we must radicalise these fanatics. radicalism must be wiped out from the faces of this world

  3. In Islam there is no commandment to kill people by making such allegations against them. The cartoonists had exercised their freedom of expression, and freedom of expression is totally allowed in Islam. Even during the Prophet’s time there were several instances of ridicule, however the Prophet and his Companions neither punished such persons nor asked anyone to do so. On every occasion of this kind, the Prophet’s Companions always tried to positively disseminate the message of Islam. They never tried to punish these people. The killing of those people who had published the cartoons is a gravely un-Islamic act in the name of Islam.

    Islam does not support terrorism under any circumstances. Terrorism goes against every principle in Islam. If a Muslim engages in terrorism, he is not following Islam. He may be wrongly using the name of Islam for political or financial gain.The Prophet Muhammad said, ‘Do not kill women or children or non-combatants and do not kill old people or religious people….Muslims Against Terrorism requests media not use phrases such as “Islamic Fundamentalists” or “Muslim Terrorists” regarding terrorist attacks “Because such things do not exist. Islam is the religion of peace, love and mutual respect. Islam is the religion of moderation. Islam is the religion of human value and dignity.” They ask that religious affiliation not be mentioned in terrorist attacks.

    The British establishment is wrong in thinking that Imams are to blame for extremism. Imams are not solution to the problem for extremism. Extremism is nothing to do with Imams. Extremism is not created from abroad, it is coming from within. Britain fails to help Muslim communities feel part of British society. Race trouble is being predicted by the Daily Express, because of an ethnic boom in UK major cities. Muslim communities need imams for the solutions of their needs and demands in their own native languages. Muslim parents would like to see their children well versed in Standard English and to go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. The fact is that majority of Muslim children leave schools with low grades because monolingual teachers are not capable to teach Standard English to bilingual Muslim children. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to become notoriously monolingual Brit.

    Just think and ask your self who is responsible for all these attacks terrorism. if we are blaming Muslims for terrorism who created this term terrorist for Muslims only ?

    Remember lass Vegas shooting but it was not terrorist attack according to your propaganda government because attacker was not a Muslim guy .

    When US UK RUSSIA ISRAEL KILLED thousands and thousands of innocents in Iraq ,Afghanistan ,Libya ,Palestine,Pakistan Chechnya ,so don’t we think one of those man who lost everything in air strikes and firing by all these countries will not take revenge ?

    Its human nature if we any one don’t get justice he will move for other options .

    People crying for western countries but they never cried for all those innocent people’s of victim countries.

    JUST STOP INVADING AND OTHER COUNTRIES .we all know that all these countries were developed and were living peacefully before the invasion of US .

    Please tell me the difference between a bunch of Muslims killing innocent civilians, and drones sent by the West massacring entire families in Pakistan and Afghanistan. When ‘they’ kill, it’s terrorism, when ‘we’ kill, it’s necessary in order to ‘protect our way of life’. Blatant hypocrisy.
    IA
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

  4. mohamed carloo

    Very profound statement’s and spot on

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