By Donovan Levine
On April 21, Easter Sunday, suicide bombers blasted and tore open three churches and four hotels across Colombo, Negumbo and Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, killing 290 people and wounding 510 others.
The tragedy spanned three major Sri Lankan cities and killed both natives and foreigners. The foreigners included Indian, British, Australian, Turkish, Danish, Dutch, American, Portuguese and Chinese nationals, as reported by the government. The U.N. Children’s Fund reported 45 children had been killed, including a fifth-grader from a prestigious school.
All social media from within the country has been blocked by the government. No one has claimed the attack as of yet, but there have been several allegations from Islamist hate groups, such as National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim, as told by Sri Lanka’s defense minister via NPR news. There was even mention of the Islamic State claiming the attack as well as suspicion that the act was in retaliation of the Muslims killed in New Zealand.
Regardless of who is confirmed as the culprit, it will be another example of the global community ailing from the wound of religious discrimination and struggle. Since 2010, there have been 198,502 fatalities from terrorist attacks alone, as reported by Our World In Data’s empirical chart.
In 2019 alone, the global community has faced wide scale tragedies such as the 50 Muslims killed in Christchurch, New Zealand and the 130 Christians whose lives were violently taken in Yola, Nigeria. These have caused both rise and fear of terrorism that has lasted since the beginning of religious discrimination ever since the Sicarii in ancient Jewish history.
Sri Lanka, the country famously known for being in the shape of a teardrop, has caused a season of “mourning and sorrow” as described by Pope Francis upon hearing of the news on the final day of the Lenten season.
The incident has become yet another wake-up call for those who forget religious persecution exists everywhere regardless of the country lived in or the religion practiced. The biggest danger with religious extremists stems from two things: one, that they know their actions come unexpected and without preparation, and two, that they are not afraid to die for what they believe in.
There will always be issues surrounding religious extremism, from the discrimination of Muslims and Jews during the 20th century, which has now bled into the 21st century, as well as the immense amount of poverty in dominantly religious countries like India or Egypt, for instance.
Even despite these issues, we are human, and we have the resources of the internet and the United Nations which are global communities that can raise awareness, help to end the poverty in these countries and better the situation so that seasons of mourning like these can never be repeated.