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Are the Easter Sunday massacres in three churches in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa and three leading tourist hotels in Colombo going to be the end of a ten-year respite the country has been enjoying after the end of the three-decade-old morbid ethnic war? No sane person in the country would prefer to go back to that dark era.Even to recall those horrific days is nightmarish. Those were the days when the parents waited with bated breath until their sons and daughters returned from school, father and the mother did not travel in the same vehicle despite the destination of both of them being the same, for fear of sporadic bomb blasts.
The free movement had only been in the law books and not even in remote villages then, as there had been strings of roadblocks, checkpoints where vehicles and pedestrians were stopped by security personnel. People were detained just for not taking their national identity card with them. People had to languish in their vehicles for hours due to random checks by the law enforcement authorities.
We have seen ten years ago enough number of human bodies torn off, limbs strewn on roadsides and inside vehicles. We saw hundreds of people blown to pieces or shot dead. Are we heading again towards such a horrifying period? There is no reason whatsoever for anyone in the country to let the country tread on such a ghastly path again.
What might have been the motive of the perpetrators of Sunday’s massacres? Whatever it might have been the means they pursued was unquestionably barbaric. Whatever the ideology that had driven them to execute such an inhuman act on innocent, unsuspecting men, women and children cannot succeed as they cannot justify it, in whatever language.
The Government Analyst after analyzing the information that had been gathered so far by the police who are investigating into the attacks had ruled that all six attacks in churches and hotels had been carried out by suicide bombers. At the same time, the same information suggests that a Muslim group is behind the unpardonable crime.
Yet, one should not be hasty to blame an entire community for the crime, however much it is barbaric or however much its impact on the society at large would be. There is no historical evidence to suggest that the Muslims as a community had resorted to violence, despite there being isolated mobs and isolated incidents.
Yet, it is the responsibility of the Muslim community and especially their leaders to understand the gravity of the situation, as the heinous crime committed on Sunday apparently by the members of their community has already tarnished their faith immensely and those crimes are viewed not in isolation but along with the similar barbaric crimes committed by various extremist groups in various parts of the world, especially in the Middle East.
It would not be so easy for them to clear their faith of allegation of violence, unless they take pains not only to explain what the real Islam is to other communities but to weed out the extremist elements from the community, on their own and with the help of the law enforcement authorities.
A group of Muslim religious and political leaders had met Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith on Sunday and discussed maintaining communal harmony. Though it was commendable to take efforts to share the pain and frustration felt by the Catholics in particular and Christians in general, at this juncture, they also must vigorously come forward for an open struggle against the extremism within the community that is now clearly perceptible.
It has now been surfaced that the authorities had prior information by April 11 that suicide attacks were going to take place even with the names of the suspects. This has been confirmed by the Police Spokesman, Defence Secretary and especially Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.