Religious terrorism, extremism and citizen responsibility | Sunday Observer

Religious terrorism, extremism and citizen responsibility

To commemorate the first month after the Easter Sunday terrorist attack, a seminar titled ‘Religious terrorism, Extremism and Citizen Responsibility’ organised by the Civil Society and Trade Union Collective was held on May 21st at the Lighthouse Auditorium of the Lakshman Kadiragamar Institute. It was presided over by Ven. Dabara Amila Thera. Dr. Wickramabahu Karunaratne, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Prof. Chandraguptha Thenuwara, Dr. Jehan Perera, Upul Jayasuriya, Saman Ratnapriya, Kumudini Samuel and Chameera Perera addressed the seminar.

Black July 1983 began with the killing of 13 military soldiers in the North. The riot that broke out ended in the 30- year civil war.

After the brutal terrorist attack on Easter Sunday, due to the praiseworthy efforts of Malcom Cardinal Ranjith and other religious, anxiety and tension among the public was allayed. But several weeks later, organised communal terrorist attacks were launched, targeting unarmed Muslims in an unprecedented manner.

Anyone who has an understanding of Sri Lankan politics can understand that these attacks were conducted purely with political motives. Speaking at the seminar Dr. Wickramabahu Karunaratne said it is important to understand that organisations such as ISIS are an outcome of the frustrations of liberal democracy.

“This is not simply an issue that arises from the Muslim religion. What we have to understand is that religious extremism can be within any religion and we have to fight against all extremism,” said Dr. Wickramabahu. It is widely accepted that a great responsibility should be played by the media to create racial and religious harmony among the citizens of the country.

Although it is visible that people are going back to their normal lives, the entire Muslim community has been subjected to unreasonable and baseless allegations. Civil society representatives at the seminar stressed the importance of responsible media practice in all print and electronic media which need to be more sensitive when broadcasting news.

“In the recent incident of May 13 although we are aware of the culprits, it is apparant that the authorities are not paying attention. This cannot be allowed in a democratic country and uncivilised mobs are not welcome in a civilised, liberal democratic society. Therefore the accountability is so very important in this critical situation and we cannot let the authorities escape from their accountability,” said Dr. Saravanamuttu. He further stressed that all ministers who have been accused, should immediately be questioned and necessary action taken by the authorities. This situation has to be changed immediately and all members of parliament should take responsibility - all should unite to take the country on the right path,” he said.

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