Sri Lankan Christians Face Increasing Persecution

Christians in Sri Lanka are in increasing danger as the number of violent attacks on churches has risen sharply, reports International Christian Concern.

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By Maria Mackay, Christian Today Reporter
May 19, 2006|10:27 am

Violence directed towards Christians in Sri Lanka is on the increase at an “alarming rate,” warns International Christian Concern.

The U.S.-based human rights group has reported that Sinhala Buddhist extremists are continuing with a campaign of terror against Christians in the country as Sri Lanka sits on the brink of war once again. The report follows an announcement from the National Christian Fellowship of Sri Lanka (NCFSL), an umbrella body made up of 100 indigenous churches, in which it expressed alarm over the rise of attacks on Christian places of worship.

The NCFSL said the attacks were a dangerous trend of anti-minority behavior and part of an extremist agenda motivated by the desire to see Sri Lanka isolated and condemned internationally.

One such attack involved the Methodist Church at Piliyandala, south east of Colombo, which reopened for services last month after being forced to close down 3 years ago because of threats from Buddhist monk-led agitators.

When the opening service was held – only after numerous threats to the senior pastor – the police guards prevented a crowd of around 100 radicals from forcibly entering the premises and assaulting the congregation.

Inflammatory anti-Christian slogans were shouted at the believers before some of the crowd eventually broke through into the service. Cars parked outside the church had their tires flattened and vehicles and motorcycles were overturned, including the pastor’s van which was badly smashed. A number of the congregation were also assaulted as they attempted to leave the church.

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In a second attack, workers at the Methodist Church at Kesbewa were also attacked and beaten by a mob of radical Buddhist monks. The windows of the church were also smashed.

International Christian Concern reports that more than 250 churches have been attacked since 2000, with little or no action taken to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“This is a very alarming situation. While the reputation of Buddhists around the world is deservedly peaceful and non-violent, the Buddhist monks of Sri Lanka have a history of agitating hatred towards Christians. It seems this hatred is now metastasizing into acts of violence against Christians,” says Jeff King, ICC president.

“We also have seen that in the past, Sri Lanka is a country that cares about its relations with the United States and will respond to requests to protect Christians. Therefore, ICC is requesting that all concerned individuals contact the Sri Lankan embassy in their country to politely request protection for Sri Lankan Christians.”

 

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