Saminie Ratnaweera, 6, joins an interfaith candlelight vigil in Sydney, Australia, for the victims of the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka. (Photo: Bianca Demarchi/EPA via CP)

Topics: Spirituality | Religion

Christian leaders in Sri Lanka release bold statement after bombings

Muslims in the country fear backlash after the attacks, and refugees have fled their homes

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After bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday killed 253 people, several Christians in the country have made it clear that they condemn any attempt to politicize the tragedy or seek revenge against Muslims.

Sri Lankan authorities say an Islamist extremist group carried out the attacks, with potential outside help. The Islamic State group has also claimed responsibility, but the extent of its involvement is still unclear.

In a joint statement published in the local Daily Mirror earlier this week, leaders from Methodist, Catholic and Anglican churches urged citizens to stand for peace and refused to blame any particular faith group.

“We will never place any responsibility on our brothers and sisters of any community for the dastardly and cruel acts of a few,” they wrote in the statement. “We demand measures to ensure the protection of vulnerable communities so that there are no riots or acts of violence against any particular community.”

Hundreds of refugees from the persecuted Ahmadi sect of Islam are in hiding after the attacks, according to The Guardian, after they fled their homes in the city of Negombo, where a church was bombed. Muslims across the country fear backlash.

The statement urged Sri Lankans to remember the country’s civil war, which only ended a decade ago. “In looking back at our tragic past, we also confront our own ambivalence to our attitude to violence and aggression towards our so-called enemies.”

A letter with slightly different wording, but the same message, was also published in the local DailyFT newspaper. Dozens of people from Christian schools, churches and other institutions signed it.

Three churches were among the locations attacked on Sunday — St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, Zion Church in Batticaloa and St. Anthony’s Shrine in the capital Colombo.

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Emma Prestwich is Broadview's digital editor.

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