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Easter 2019: Hostility and loss in a season of hope

  • April 23rd, 2019
  • Posted by EU Australia

Easter has brought a cruel trial for Christians world-wide with the coordinated bomb attacks on churches and major hotels in Sri Lanka.

That outrage and the devastation by fire of Notre Dame at Paris the week before will be remembered for the season this time.

In Christian belief Easter marks the anniversary of the crucifixion and later resurrection in Jerusalem of Jesus Christ.

More than 300 were reported dead and 500 others hurt in Sri Lanka. Police began rounding up members of a radical Islamist group; it remained uncertain whether the perpetrators were linked with groups outside the country. Among recriminations, the Sri Lankan government admitted it had received intelligence of an impending attack earlier in April and made a public apology for letting it happen. A failure to pass on warnings was being blamed on conflicts within the government’s own ranks. Police operations continued to find planted or hidden explosives meaning little relief for an anxious public.

Christians are a prominent minority known as peace-makers for including both Sinhalese and Tamils in their congregations. There are 1.5-million, some 7% of the population of 22-million. Over 70% of Sri Lankans are Buddhist, some 13% Hindu and 9% Moslem.

PRESSURE ON CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

The Foreign Policy news service has provided some analysis, quoting reports of 86 incidents of discrimination, threats and violence against Christians during last year.

It says:

“While authorities are still piecing together what happened, the blasts bear at least some resemblance to the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, which simultaneously targeted two luxury hotels, a busy railway terminal, and a Jewish outreach centre. According to Indian intelligence, the Mumbai attacks were designed not only to cause the highest possible number of casualties but also to target groups—such as Western tourists—that would lead to the greatest amount of international media coverage.”

AUSTRALIA

The tragedy disrupted the relative tranquillity in Australia, (see picture, service on Sunday in country Queensland).

Two Australians who had been living in Sri Lanka were among those killed: Manik Suriaaratchi and her daughter Alexendria, aged ten. An English couple resident in Perth Western Australia, Bill Harrop and Sally Bradley, also lost their lives in the chain of bombings.

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten took time from electioneering for briefings.

Morrison had described Easter Sunday as a time of hope.

“We deeply regret these deaths and we extend our deepest and most sincere sympathies to the family,” he said.

Shorten told journalists:

“At a time like this, politics is not as important… Easter Sunday’s senseless and barbaric murder of hundreds of citizens, including two Australians and 500 injured, is something we should all mourn and we do.”

PARIS

In Paris Holy Week services cancelled at Notre Dame were moved to the Eglise Saint-Sulpice not far away.

The Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit posted a message:

Notre Dame our beloved cathedral witnessed so many events in the history of our country … France cries and with it all its friends from all over the world. It is touched because its stones are the testimony of an invisible hope …”

Members of the Gilets Jaunes protest movement again took to the streets of Paris as they have done for six months.

The demonstrations which look to be getting wilder as numbers fall away over time, took up protests about the large amounts of subscription money flooding in to rebuild Notre Dame.

Leaders said the movement that started as a reaction against state austerity wanted to see the same priority given to human services.

President Emmanuel Macron (picture) who has been conducting hundreds of town meetings to address concerns of the Gilets Jaunes has pledged to rebuild the cathedral as a high priority, giving a deadline of five years.

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