September 23, 2019

Tensions building up between Muslims, Christians over attack fears in Sri Lanka


After the Easter Sunday attacks, the anger of the Christian community has been directed towards the Muslims living in their areas. Facing hostility, hundreds of Muslim refugees have moved to safer haven taking refuge in mosques and police station in Negombo town in Sri Lanka.

In a backlash, about 1,000 refugees from Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan living in asylum Negombo town, had to vacate their rented accommodations.

“Everyone there’s saying that we can’t give our home to anyone, to Pakistanis, Afghanis, we can’t give up our home, on rent or not, and now we don’t know where we will live,” said a Pakistani refugee named Sajal.

An Afghani refugee, who is also a father, said he is afraid what will happen to his children. He said they don’t have anything to eat and can’t go out to purchase anything.

Some of the refugees were even attacked and had to run for their safety to the police station.

“How would you feel if you escaped your country because of the terrorists and come to another country like Sri Lanka to ask the people for a shelter, for love and they treat you like you’ve been the reason for that tragedy,” said an Afghani refugee named Mahdi.

“There’s a problem, ISIS Muslim, that’s a problem, you know,” said a local resident.

Since the attack, the town with mixed ethnicity has been on the edge and communal tensions is building up.

“This apprehension is that these incidents might continue to escalate unless we nip them in the bud right now, so I think that’s why it’s very important to address them right now in the first few days itself, so that they don’t get out of hand and they won’t get widespread,” said Rooki Fernando, a human rights activist.

Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry on Thursday revised the death toll from multiple terror attacks last Sunday to around 253 from 359.

Due to the severity of the explosion and many body parts, there was a miscalculation, the health ministry said.

A string of suicide bombings exploded in hotels and churches across Sri Lanka last Sunday. The Sri Lankan police have so far taken more than 70 suspects in custody.

Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attacks.

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