Sri Lanka is a nation that gives generously to the needy during times of trouble and when there are catastrophes. When donating people haven’t bothered about cast, race and religion. We saw the same support and empathy showed towards the Christian community when they were recovering from the Easter Sunday bombings.
But months after the carnage there came a time when Sinhala hardliners found fault with the Christian community for backing a Presidential candidate who received the support of Muslim lawmakers. Though investigations proved that the attacks were carried out by a misguided extremist Muslim group and not by right-thinking Muslims, this minority community came under fire. They were isolated and Muslim owned business establishments were shunned for many months.
Though investigations couldn’t prove an ISIS hand in the attacks extremists among the majority community thought otherwise. It’s the same extremist elements who are trying to blame the Christians for voting for Sajith Premadasa in Negombo and Baticaloa Districts. Suddenly these extremist elements are giving the message to the nation that future help wouldn’t be given to Christians come such a carnage. The worst comments on such lines were made on social media; especially on Facebook. Eventually the Christian community suffered a double blow. Now they are looked down upon as traitors who sided with the enemy.
- The positive thing in this situation is that the Christian community is extremely tolerant
- People need to put their faith above all else and to do this there can’t be conditions imposed
As much as ‘state terrorism’ prevailed several times during the past akin to tiger terrorism, the extremist elements taking on the Christians share similarities with the extremist Muslim group which carried out the Easter Sunday bombings. Both these groups didn’t entertain the views of others, are far removed from the truth and force their opinions on others.
The positive thing in this situation is that the Christian community is extremely tolerant. The same was witnessed when tiger rebels bombed the Temple of the Tooth. There was zero retaliation by the Buddhists.
The Christians are known for compassion and being forgiving. Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith made a request to the Christian community, especially those in Negombo, to exercise calm. But he also made a statement months later that he feared official investigations into the Easter Sunday bombings ending up a flop. Despite the message of peace and forgiveness being spread there were reports that some Muslim refugees were attacked in Negombo following the series of bombings.
If one studies the issue closely there was all out compassion towards the Christians who were battling physical and mental wounds. People from other faiths rallied around a fallen community. But all the good done was blown away into the rubble because of an election. The effect of a political ideology ‘which is to divide and rule, applied in the month of November sans much effort.
If the Christians voted for the NDF candidate applying right thinking and decided to live with the consequences we’ve seen courage during adversity; not weakness
It’s politics which divides a community. The strongman from Negombo too might not like what he saw. The party he worked for at the presidential elections lost on the Christian vote. If there was no election the two communities in Negombo would be still sharing each others’ sorrows. It would take a long time to patch up these differences.
All in all this would be a gloomy Christmas. The Cardinal has requested for a low key Christmas. There are some Christians who haven’t attended service in churches in Negombo and Baticaloa after April 21.\
The mental traumas of losing loved ones to the bombings pinch their hearts and flood their eyes with tears. What’s enlightening is that there were those who were converted to the Catholic faith among the survivors. These Christians like all other Churchgoers have stuck to the their ‘new faith’ during these challenging times.
There was a lovely post on Facebook which merits mention here. A couple in Sri Lanka had put a post stating that anyone rendered homeless could drop in at their residence for a serving of Christmas pudding and a hug during this festive season. Stories like these melt hearts and unite communities.
Eight months after the carnage this minority community belonging to the Christian faith can reflect on the time passed and tell themselves that they’ve done pretty well. The Christians showed that Christ’s message of compassion and forgiveness is applicable fully, even today. If the Christians voted for the NDF candidate applying right thinking and decided to live with the consequences we’ve seen courage during adversity; not weakness.
If religions can make people good they can also bring the worst out of individuals. So many tense situations have arisen in this island because they were fuelled by those who practised a form of religion that was given a twist. People need to put their faith above all else and to do this there can’t be conditions imposed. Those who pointed fingers at Christians for voting for their favoured candidate at the recent elections failed to understand the above fact. When the Christian devotees emerge from their place of worship they have other roles to play like parent, boss or businessman; hence they’ll have their choice of political party and politician. If extremist elements couldn’t understand the thinking pattern of Christians at the recent elections then it was an issue much to do with the intellect.