The rise of religious terrorism in Sri Lanka has been evident in the last two months, especially since the Easter Bombings that occurred on 21st April, 2019. To uncover the root of all problems, what better place is there to begin at than the very beginning?
So, we must understand who caused these attacks, where exactly they happened, why the horrible massacre occurred and all the other possible details we can find. In fact, let us start with understanding what is meant by religious terrorism.
What is Religious Terrorism?
Terrorism, defined solely by its acts, is the violent indiscrimination against entire countries or citizens of a certain country of the world, involving acts of hatred. Adding the word ‘religious’ before it implies that these acts of terrorism are done in the name of religion, a ridiculous philosophy that many youth are brainwashed into believing.
I say it is ridiculous, because there is no religion in the world that could possibly justify violence and merciless killing of innocent people for any reason one can think of.
The first acts of terrorism was in 1790, when the government would use acts of terror to scare the citizens into doing what they were ordered to do. But terrorism has been adapted and changed a lot from back then, and it has grown in hatred, intensity, frequency and violence.
There are many terrorist organizations in the world. The names that everyone has heard of and is petrified of are the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban), the Boko Haram and the Al-Shabaab.
These four organizations have been responsible for almost 19,000 deaths in the last year, and they proudly claim for credit on more attacks, which is a viciously frightening thought. Their actions contribute to the instability of what are some of the most dangerous countries in the world, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria.
Some of the worst incidents of terrorism that have occurred in the last two decades include the bombing of the twin towers on September 11th, 2001, which had resulted in 2996 deaths, 19 of which were hijackers. The responsibility for this attack was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS).
In India, in 2001 again, there was the Parliament Attack in Delhi which had 14 kills, five of which were terrorists. The responsibility for this attack was claimed by both the Jaish-e-Mohammad as well as the Lakshar-e-Taiba.
Both of the mentioned are Pakistan-based terrorist organizations. Then in 2008 in India, there were the Mumbai Attacks that killed 174 people. The responsibility for this attack was claimed by Lakshar-e-Taiba again.
The Easter Bombings in Sri Lanka
The Easter Bombings in Sri Lanka occurred on 21st April, 2019. The terrorist attack was in fact carefully organised to occur almost simultaneously at six places. The locations in question were divided into three churches and three luxury hotels, most of them in the commercial capital of the Country, which is Colombo.
Later the same day, there were two more minor explosions at a guest house in Deliwala and a housing complex in Dematagoda. There were more than 250 people who died due to these attacks.
The Churches in question were St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, Zion Church in Batticaloa, and a small Church with St. Anthony’s Shrine in the Kochchikade district of Colombo. They were celebrating the Easter Service. As evident, the intended victims of this serial bomb blasting was the Christian minority community of Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan military believe that there were nine suicide bombers involved in this massacre. It is considered to be a retaliation for the recent bombings of the Christchurch Mosque in New Zealand. The hotels in question are the Shangri-La Hotel, the Cinnamon Grand Hotel and the Kingsbury Hotel, all three in Colombo.
Responsibility for this terrible incident was first claimed by ISIS, but there was no evidence to support the same. These attacks are possibly the worst seen in almost a decade of civility in Sri Lanka. However, there has also been a recent incident of such fights, although maybe not with the same severity.
In December of the last year, there were several Buddhist statues around the town that were vandalised. It was an attempt to inflame tensions and provoke communal rioting. This occurred in an area dominated by both Muslim and Buddhist communities. Soon after, there were riots held in Kandy, in 2018 that were anti-Muslim in nature.
Even at that time, there were certain young jihadists who claimed that something must be done against the citizens of Sri Lanka who were stealing their (the Muslim’s) rights and allowances.
From then on, Sri Lanka has been facing a state of religious war all over. This war threatens also to spread to all other nations, especially the neighbours of Sri Lanka.
Indians should be aware and alert, seeing as India is the closest neighbour of Sri Lanka. In the meantime, all we can do is sympathise with our heartfelt condolences and also come forward with any possible information we may be harbouring.
How can we Combat Terrorism?
The United Global Nations has set some counter-terrorism strategies that we can, or rather, must follow. The member nations of the UN have already undertaken this oath.
To be absolutely frank, there is no way that we as the citizens of a country, can contribute to the fight against terrorism other than either joining anti-terrorist squads or being informants to the police and defence force if there is any possible information we might know. In the meantime, I suggest we do not crucify any particular religion or community as terror groups.
Just the other day, while travelling in a rickshaw, another rickshaw slightly bumped into us, leaving no lasting or any damage at all. The only hitch was, the auto rickshaw driver was a Muslim and my driver was not. Our rickshaw somehow became part of a race for life, with the driver of my rickshaw hurling abuses such as “Pakistani bad words” or going so far as to refer to him as a “Terrorist”.
This happened while I clung on for my dear life, begging him to stop, with no idea what would be happening next.
Islam is not a terroristic religion. Neither is Hinduism, nor is Christianity. In fact, there are almost 72 religions in India, and not one of them suggests terrorism as its dictates.
In fact, they are all very peace-loving religions, and teach us to live as brothers and sister in spite of the different faiths or belief systems we follow.
After the recent attack in Sri Lanka, the Muslim Community made a lot of efforts to appease the citizens of the country, and did their best to ensure that the culprits were caught. Muhammad Taslim, a 37 year old Muslim politician, was shot in the head in March, for attempting to dissuade the attacks.
In spite of all of this, there are many anti-Muslim riots being held, which is bound to be irritating. If there are 3 billion Islam followers in the world, there would be only a maximum of 10% of them who joined terrorist organizations. This would mean that 0.3 billion are terrorists.
Imagine the shame and distress that the remaining seven hundred million people of the Muslim Community undergo. If the world is unfair to them, it will be their instinct to be unfair to the world.
As once rightly said by Abhijit Naskar, “You must remember, the so-called Jihadists who are in reality, mentally unstable individuals run by Quranic fundamentalists, do not represent the whole Muslim population of the world.”
To quote Noam Chomsky, “Everybody is worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there is a really easy way: stop participating in it.”
This is very aptly said, but it is still much easier to preach than actually practice. However, we can still try. We can try to keep each other safe, hope for the best, and keep everyone in our prayers.
Even if you are an atheist, send good wishes mentally, physically and verbally to everyone around. Send positive vibes wherever and whenever you can. You might not be able to help the gone victims, or the future victims of these terrorist attacks, but you can most definitely help their present life be a little better than it is.