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By Morak Babajide-Alabi
It would be inhuman to ignore the pains and deaths that were visited on the innocent people of Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019 – a few Sundays ago. There is no disputing the fact that madness was let loose by a group of demented individuals who believed religion should be a turf war. Ironically, these mad individuals who had congregated themselves into the notorious terror group, named, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) visited death on Christians and tourists as they celebrated Easter.
On a Sunday when Christians all over the world were celebrating the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, these terrorists thought otherwise and saw it as an opportunity to kill, maim and cause pain for hundreds of families and individuals. Eight suicide bombers had exploded themselves in three churches and luxury hotels leaving 253 people dead and 400 more wounded.
The Christians, unaware of the terror lurking in the corner had adorned their Sunday bests, looking radiant and happy as they picked up their bibles and rosaries. They had packed the churches, looking forward to the priests’ admonitions to them. Most of them would have relayed the sermons over and over in their heads; some knew the topic by hearts as this has always been an annual event. The priests talk about sacrifice and love. The worshippers love the stories; they love to hear about how Jesus loves the world that he had to sacrifice himself to take away the sins of the people.
The evil terrorists have different ideas. They joined the worshippers, not with their bibles or rosaries, but with evil in their hearts and bags filled with shrapnel, nails and explosives. They had not come with love, but with hatred. They came like thieves as described by Jesus Christ in John 10:10 to “steal, and kill and destroy”. They had been well-schooled by the remnants of the defeated notorious ISIS.
They had come with the same mindset of the Australian self-confessed white supremacist Brenton Tarrant. He killed fifty people in the Christchurch, New Zealand mosque attacks on March 15, 2019. You could mistakenly think they were acting the same script, as the end game was to kill as many worshippers as they could in one go. This is where the differences end, though.
One cannot but sympathise with the Sri Lankans and the foreigners that died from these attacks. It later emerged, these were attacks that could have been prevented or at worst, caused minimal damage, if the Sri Lankan officials had been very proactive. It was claimed the country’s intelligence officials had informed the state of the impending attacks. To me, this is a very unpardonable lapse on the part of the government that has been torn, in recent times, by political infighting.
You wonder what is wrong with the third world countries, where they play games with the lives of their citizens. This was a clear example of the selfishness of politicians who, rather than put the security of the common men and women at the forefront, would rather take on useless and pointless fights that serve no purpose. In Sri Lanka, the President and Prime Minister have both been travelling different roads, with parallel missions.
The two individuals, President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, are supposed to preside over a country that has been through a lot in recent times. But they have been busy scheming against each other. It was supposed to be a coalition of strange bedfellows, formed to save the soul of the country, but these two politicians have for the past two years been struggling to upstage the other. We can still recollect the dramatic sack of Wickremesinghe last year and the attendant drama that followed.
Now, these shameless leaders have the blood of the people on their hands all in their selfish bid to control the political soul of the country. It is not clear to me why such an important security detail could be kept away from those who should authorise a clampdown on the identified terrorists.
Unabashedly, these politicians are still trying to justify their positions for failing the citizens and allowing preventable deaths. I know a few top security agents have been sacrificed for the lapses of the government in power; this definitely should not be the end of it. The lack of coordination between the two individuals (offices) that run the country is a definite conclusion that the coalition government is working against each other and serve no purpose, any more.
It is sad that innocent lives have been sacrificed by the sheer madness of a government that is supposed to protect the people. It has conveniently allowed a celebratory party by the evil organisation – ISIS. What excuse would they give at the next polls? When are developing countries’ politicians going to realise that it is not all about them and the struggle for positions? When will they get it that politics is to serve and not to occupy for selfish gains?
The attacks on the country, without saying it lightly, should be blamed on these selfish Sri Lanka politicians. Shame on you Sirisena, Wickremesinghe and all their supporters.
Meanwhile, after a similar terrorist attack in Brussels in 2016, I wrote a piece on the dastardly activities of terrorists. Read the excerpts from the column published on April 3, 2016:
“Terrorism has again managed “front row attention” in the international media. In the past two weeks, there have been terrorists’ attacks that claimed innocent lives, leaving the world and the leaders baffled and shocked with unspoken questions on their lips. They also momentarily brought trepidation to the ordinary men and women on the streets.
“There seems to be no letup, no matter how “hard” the security forces around the world try, terrorism is increasingly becoming part of everyday lives.
“We now look over our shoulders everywhere we go while trying to play safe. If there is an opportunity to ask those who died as a result of terrorist attacks why they did not play safe, they would tell you, terrorists are cowards, they rarely chose their victims. Precaution is mainly effective when you know where an attack is coming from. Making it worse is the fact that terrorists do not announce their itineraries.
“From the Metro Station in Brussels to the crowded park in Lahore or a village of North-Eastern Nigeria, tens of innocent victims have been murdered by terrorists. These criminals have no respect for human lives, – theirs or victims’. The religious terrorists, who are common nowadays, claim they are fighting holy wars on behalf of God. To a reasonable human being, it is hard to explain the rationale behind fighting God’s war in the most violent manner. They claim they are out to “wipe out” unbelievers. However, most times (if not all the time) they are not discriminatory in their acts, as they affect men, women and children of a different faith.”
We mourn with people of Sri Lanka as we call on them to stand up and demand answers from the two individuals who are supposed to make informed decisions for them. As the Christians in Sri Lanka continue to sleep with one eye closed, we hope people of faith all over the world will one day be free to practice their religions, free from any threat of attack.
The day is coming very soon when true Christians and Muslims would rally round each other and stand up to terrorism in the name of religion. The day is tomorrow.
As written for the Diaspora Column, Sunday Vanguard, May 5, 2019.