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ANS (01/03/06) – Christians in a church in Sri Lanka had their Christmas Day service disrupted by mob violence.

According to a news release from British- based human rights organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), on Christmas Day, a mob of about 30 people confronted members of the King’s Revival Church . The church is located in an area in west central Sri Lanka .

Members of the mob threatened the pastor and warned the congregation not to attend the service. They told the pastor not to hold a Christmas service and warned they would attack again on New Year’s Eve. Many worshippers fled in fear, CSW stated, according to a report by the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka.

Some of those who continued on their way to church were beaten up, CSW reported. One man and three women were injured. The man was taken to hospital for treatment. One of the women was pregnant.

The incident was reported twice to the local police; once on Dec. 25 and again on Dec. 28. However, CSW reported, nothing was initially done to track down the attackers until Dec. 29, when the police did hold some people for questioning.

In another incident on Christmas morning, CSW reported, a prominent Tamil, Joseph Pararajasingham, MP for the Tamil National Alliance party, was shot dead while attending a late night Christmas Eve service at St. Ann ‘s Catholic Cathedral in Batticaloa ( Eastern Province ).

In a separate incident, five days before Christmas, family members of Mr. Karunaratne, a deceased Christian, were refused permission to bury their relative in a local public cemetery. CSW reported that area Buddhists told the family, from an area in south eastern Sri Lanka , that they could not bury the dead man in the cemetery because he was a Christian.

The local police and authorities ultimately got involved, and the burial went ahead, but, CSW reported, “the initial refusal is an example of continuing anti-Christian discrimination in Sri Lanka .”

CSW’s Chief Executive Officer Mervyn Thomas said in a news release, “We are most disturbed that this Christian community has been unable to celebrate Christmas in peace. We are also appalled that a family was initially denied permission to bury their relative in a public cemetery, simply because he was a Christian. We are pleased the local authorities appear in both cases to have eventually intervened to uphold the law, but we would urge the Sri Lankan government at all levels to be proactive in ensuring protection for Christians; equal rights and freedom of religion for all. We urge the authorities to bring the perpetrators of violence to justice, and to do everything possible to eliminate extremism and intolerance.”… [Go To Full Story]