By Divya Thotawatte
Anglican Bishop of Colombo Rev. Dhiloraj Canagasabey yesterday called on authorities to take strong action to prevent mob violence, and warned that failure to do so will only expand rifts between the majority and minority communities in Sri Lanka.
Addressing the media, Canagasabey stated that the Government should act without fear while enforcing the law strictly and impartially, to safeguard the life and property of each individual of the country. He also urged the Police and armed forces to not be influenced by vested political agendas.
“I appeal to the Police and armed forces to act according to your conscience, and be true to yourself, and do not be led by the negative emotions of people intent on creating chaos,” he stated.
He said that while the victims of the Easter bomb blast were mostly Sinhala and Tamil, as well as foreign visitors to the country, all Sri Lankans irrespective of class, caste, religion, or race flocked to the blood bank to offer blood, or to help the victims in other ways. According to him, that is the true noble character that Sri Lankans possess.
“On Easter Sunday, ISIS-inspired extremists turned on Sri Lanka. Today, Sri Lankans are turning against their own fellow citizens. Due to the acts of a few violent, destructive, and foolish people, more bloodshed, injury and hurt have been inflicted upon the Muslim community, our brothers and sisters and so, on our nation.”
Referring to prior attacks against the Muslim community in Aluthgama and Digana, he explained that in some cases, they have been left without the protection of the forces of law and order, which like any other citizen of Sri Lanka they are fully entitled to.
He noted, “While I do not condone anyone taking the law into his own hands, but is it any wonder that going by past experiences, the Muslim community has been forced to defend themselves, their wives, mothers, sisters, and children when they have no one to turn to?”
Canagasabey then stated that all citizens must assist in stopping the violence and destruction that is taking place in the country today. He said that people should be guided by the teachings of whatever religion they follow, since no religion encourages hate, harm, and destruction of those who are different from them.
“I call upon all Sri Lankans to learn a lesson from the 1983 violence, and work towards building trust and confidence among communities to build one nation and one family,” he said, while highlighting the fact that doing otherwise will only harm the citizens as well as the image of the country, while destroying the economy.