‘Only united efforts will eradicate fear and insecurity’ | Sunday Observer

‘Only united efforts will eradicate fear and insecurity’

 Politicians lighting candles  Pix: Ranjith Asanka
Politicians lighting candles Pix: Ranjith Asanka

People from all walks of life and belonging to various religions, cast and creed gathered yesterday morning at the Independence Square. They stood under the scorching sun to send a message to their fellow citizens who were affected by the heinous Easter Sunday attacks that they were not alone and that Sri Lankans should stand tall in the face of terrorism.

Religious leaders, political leaders and leaders of the forces were present bearing a rose in their hand and a candle lit remembering the lives lost and people wounded forever.

Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy speaking at the event organised under the banner ‘Rise up for Solidarity – unity beyond religion’ said, “It is not time for only Muslim introspection. If we are going to call for introspection we must ask everyone to exercise.

How did the Tamils produce the LTTE, how did the Buddhists produce the BBS? How do we respond to extremism in our community? How do we speak? How do we make the voice of tolerance and inclusiveness speak out? How do we convince others that this calamity does not mean that we forsake our democracy or our decency? How do we turn this moment into a moment of co-existence?

President’s Counsel Ali Sabry told the Sunday Observer that the idea behind this commemorative event was to basically send out a strong message that Muslims hate terrorism.

“Muslims are totally against terrorism. These terrorists are not part of the religion. Don’t think that Muslims are terrorists. This is a fight between the terrorists and the Sri Lankan community. Not between the Muslims and some other community,” he said.

“We should not give into the terrorists by getting into a fear psychosis,” he said.The public should start their day-to-day lives and continue normally. “Start looking at your friends as normal as possible while taking precautions,” he said.

Chairperson of the Walpola Rahula Institute Ven. Galkande Dhammananda Thera said that it is important that the message of solidarity is sent across. “The victims of this incident should know that we are grieving with them, that we feel their pain and that we are with them together during these difficult times.”

“The evil forces have spoken. However, we are silent, but we should not be. It is always good to come together and show solidarity. We shouldn’t let it go without doing anything because they will remain with the wounds. But we come together and show them that we are also sharing empathy. This is an urgent need,” the Thera added.

“Human rights and national security are not mutually exclusive. There are areas of tension but there is a protocol and there are ways in which they can coexist. A country can be both free and secure. This is an important realisation not only because it is the humane way of looking at these problems but also because we do not want to radicalise another generation of youth who seethe with anger at the injustices they face,” Coomaraswamy said disapproving the call for a dictatorship during these difficult times with some even going as far as ascribing the fault on Human Rights supporters.

The churches they attacked were some of the oldest and most beautiful cathedrals. Most of those who died in these churches were not wealthy. They were ordinary people who went for Sunday mass. There is such cruelty in the act of bombing a place where families gather to seek solace, when people are most vulnerable.

“Sri Lankans were bold and rose in the aftermath of the bomb blasts to reclaim humanity. From blood donations to inter-religious activities guided by religious leaders we have tried to rekindle the bonds that connect us.

“But there is fear, insecurity, and a lot of ugliness out there that can only be defeated by united dedicated efforts. We have come today in solidarity.

“We can’t fight this by becoming terrorists ourselves. My mother went once a week to St. Anthony’s at Kochchikade even though she was Hindu. I think she went to pray for me.

That is what we were. Before extremism came to our religions and communities we inhabited each others’ religious faces, we celebrated each other’s festivals and holidays. Thanks to my roots in Sri Lanka, I find solace and peace in all religious faces.

I am moved by the sacred, regardless of which culture defines it,” she added.