"I have been there before" - For Sri Lankan Christians like me, the Easter attacks revived old
Date Written: 2019-04-30
Publisher: Europe Solidaire Sans Frontieres
Year Published: 2019
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX23631
A personal narrative about the complicated politics of language, ethnicity, and religion in Sri Lanka in the wake of the Easter bombings.
Over the past week, people have repeatedly asked me what it means to be a Sri Lankan Christian, and how the Easter Sunday attacks relate to Christian communities - a line of inquiry that links us not to other Sri Lankans but to other Christians around the world. I answer slowly, carefully, attempting to be precise. In Sri Lanka, I say, people are making an effort to grieve across community and ethnicity. Churches and clergy have issued statements not only condemning the violence but also warning against any retaliation against minority Muslim communities that might follow. We have already seen isolated incidents of such violence. We fear more will follow....
Even a basic attempt to convey Sri Lanka’s demographics grows complicated quickly. Sri Lanka is divided between Sinhala and Tamil speakers. The Sinhala speakers mainly comprise one ethnic group, the Sinhalese, and are predominantly Buddhist, with a small Christian minority. The Tamil speakers are composed of many ethnic minorities.... Among Sri Lankan Tamils, the community I belong to, the majority are Hindu, and 15 percent are Christians of various denominations. In Sri Lanka, Christians are not their own clear-cut minority group but, instead, are defined in relation to their ethnic group, the language that they speak and their denominations.