Now is the Time for Compassion

Statement by Muslim Personal Law Reform Action Group (MPLRAG).

We are truly devastated by the bombings in Batticaloa, Colombo, and Negombo on 21 April 2019. Our hearts go out to those directly affected by this senseless violence. We extend our prayers and thoughts to the Christian and Catholic communities across the country that have experienced this heinous attack on a day of religious celebration.

Our heartfelt appreciation to those who are making  effort to ensure that no more lives are affected, and to everyone partaking in healing and helping others in their own ways big and small.

We condemn these atrocious acts. We also condemn all violence and hatred directed at individuals and groups based on their identities.  We call upon the government and relevant authorities to ensure a comprehensive, unbiased, and transparent investigation, and to take swift action against the perpetrators of this grave crime.

Acts like these affect us all; it is an attack on our shared humanity. It is an attempt to shake us at our very foundation. The path to overcome this tragedy and to persist over the nihilistic ideology of perpetrators runs through love and understanding, collective grieving and fight for accountability and justice.

Sri Lanka is home to a multitude of communities and cultures. No community is monolithic. There is diversity within each community in terms of ethnicity, history, culture and religious practices. It is what makes the fabric of this country so rich and vibrant. It is important at this time to acknowledge the strength in our diversity and not allow it to be turned against us.

No one religious, ethnic, or linguistic group can or should be held responsible for the actions of a few individuals whose ideologies are too extreme to comprehend.

The terror inflicted on Sri Lankans was meant to cause suffering, instill fear and panic, and tear our communities apart. We cannot give in to this. We understand that anger is a normal reaction to the pain and suffering. We must resist all efforts meant to cause distrust, disharmony, and division. We must not allow any more people to suffer any form of injustice or indignity. 

We owe this time to the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks and their families, to the first responders, and those working tirelessly to save lives and secure our cities. This is the time for grieving, healing, and restoring security and stability.

Our energies must go into reaching out to family, friends, and neighbours, across communal and linguistic divides, for sharing messages of solidarity and community, for demonstrating that we Sri Lankans are united in our grief and pain. Any and all efforts must be inclusive and involve women at all levels.

We know that extremist ideologies have been challenged and resisted by women and men globally, including within Muslim communities. Women’s groups especially have responded with an approach grounded in promotion of justice and equality.  

Our gratitude to every person speaking out against the hate speech, violence, and all forms of discrimination, and standing firm for the dignity of all citizens including women and men within their own communities.

The only way to defeat the efforts of those who intend to break us, is to emerge stronger as a more compassionate and just nation.

We must steadfastly stand on the side of compassion.

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