ASIA/SRI LANKA - "Interreligious dialogue, a necessary basis for a perspective of peace"

Monday, 29 April 2019 dialogue  


Colombo - (Agenzia Fides) - The concern of local Muslims is rising in Sri Lanka for possible attacks on the community after the massacre in Catholic churches on Easter Sunday. And while the investigation continues on the Islamist track, the government claims that the alert that could have prevented the tragedy never arrived. "The reason for these attacks is apparently to hit the economy and create a division among the different communities", says to Agenzia Fides Mgr. Indunil Janaka Kodithuwakku, Sri Lankan priest and Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. And this is how to the east of ISIS, defeated in Syria but with an ideology that is still alive and disruptive, radical organizations are being established that focus on terrorism to destabilize a country like Sri Lanka. "The Islamic State is aiming for a strategy to provoke an insurrection also in other countries. This type of tension creates a fertile climate for such movements", he adds.
Former Ceylon, which became independent in 1948, after 150 years of British rule, is experiencing an uneven political, cultural and religious situation. Fr. Indunil explains: "The country has failed to shape an inclusive, pluralistic national identity, where all communities feel respected and accepted". The coexistence of 23 million Buddhists (70%), Hindus (12.6%), Muslims (9.7%) and Christians (7.6%) has not always been easy: in the background the legacy of a war that lasted almost thirty years between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil Tigers guerrillas, secessionist group remains.
In recent years, Buddhist identity organizations have developed that, with violent militancy, have targeted Muslims and Christians. The government has tried to scale them down but failed to avoid violent campaigns, victims: since 2013, and then until 2018, Buddhist extremist movements conducted hostile campaigns by burning Muslim homes, properties and mosques in areas inhabited by Sri Lankan citizens of faith Islamic. "Today - the Undersecretary continues - there is no single political vision capable of facing the problems of the nation. The inability to reconcile differences and discords, whether ancient or new, has given rise to ethnic and religious tensions, frequently accompanied by explosions of violence".
Here the importance of interreligious dialogue comes into play: "Our Dicastery is working in this field so that through dialogue between religions, the intercultural one, one can know the other, overcome misunderstandings and heal wounds". "The president of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena - says Mgr. Kodithuwakku - in these days will meet the leaders belonging to the different religious communities to contribute to the search for a solution that brings harmony and peaceful coexistence". (ES) (Agenzia Fides, 29/4/2019)