Social Issues

Sri Lankan Cardinal boycotts independence day over attacks against Christians

Colombo, Feb 4 (EFE).- The head of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, on Friday boycotted the Independence Day celebrations in protest over the lack of efficiency in the probe against 2019 Easter Bombings and the recent discovery of a grenade at a church.

The boycott has highlighted the discontent in the Christian community and the Church hierarchy in the island nation, which has a majority Buddhist population.

The Catholic Church has insisted that authorities are not doing enough to investigate the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings against three churches and as many luxury hotels, in which 269 people were killed and hundreds injured.

Moreover, priest Cyril Gamini Fernando on Thursday accused the local police of arresting the caretaker of a Colombo church without any proof after a hand-grenade was found at the site on Jan. 11, days before an event to mark 1,000 days of the brutal attacks.

“We are hurt by the detention of an innocent person,” Fernando, a member of the Colombo Archdiocese Communication Unit, said in a message to the media.

The Easter attacks were claimed by the Islamic State terror groups and carried out by the local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamaat, with many members of the latter being arrested before the trial began in November 2021.

However, Christian groups and family members of the victims have repeatedly alleged that the security forces and the government ignored warnings of an imminent Islamist attack and demanded that those responsible for this should also be prosecuted.

On Friday, Sri Lanka was celebrating the 74th anniversary of its independence amid a severe economic crisis and rising living costs for the people.

In his address to the nation on the occasion, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stressed the need to face the challenging situation with a “positive attitude” in order to “successfully” overcome the crisis.

“Difficult times do not last forever. People of great resolve are needed to face difficult times. Anyone who demoralizes another is not doing any good to the society at this moment,” he said.

Rajapaksa pledged to ensure security for the population and emphasized that his government would not tolerate extremism “under any circumstances.”

“Today we have secured national security as promised by the government to the people,” he said. EFE


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