A Local Reflection on Early Days After the Sri Lanka Easter Bombings

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A powerful letter from Ivor Poobalan of Colombo Theological Seminary in Sri Lanka, in the aftermath of the bombings.

Thursday April 25, 2019

Dear friends,

Today is the fourth day following the Easter Sunday attacks, which have been comprehensively reported on around the world. The suddenness, magnitude, and the horrific nature of these coordinated bombings generated a profound sense of shock and disbelief, followed by outrage and fear. The disorientation is compounded by many important factors.

The fact is that, for over a thousand years, Sri Lankan Muslims have lived at peace with their neighbours and have never been known to initiate violence against other ethnic or religious communities. This is so unlike the ancient histories of world Islam where often its very introduction was marked by violence and holy war.

In Sri Lanka, the four world religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity) have co-existed for over a millennia. The earliest Christian communities were the Nestorian Christians of the sixth-century AD, but these had ended well before the Roman Catholic Portuguese arrived in the fifteen hundreds.

Religious violence is relatively new, beginning in the late eighties (1987) with the martyrdom of Pastor Lionel Jayasinghe of the Assemblies of God. From this point on, extremist Buddhist groups have continually targeted Christian workers, congregations, and church property; most being evangelicals committed to evangelism and church planting.

Even during periods of reduced intensity, acts of discrimination simmer in the rural areas of the country where Christians form a very small minority, are poor, and have little access to power and influence.

In the Eastern Province, where Batticaloa is the main town, extremist Hindu groups have occasionally been aggressive against the church, and more recently we had incidents by such a group …

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