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ICC Note:

The Church in Sri Lanka is leading the charge to promote religious coexistence after years of intolerance. Leading a multi-faith program, church leaders rallied with leaders of other faiths to promote religious tolerance. Following the rally, the religious leaders walked around the city appealing for support for religious coexistence. Sri Lanka has been hit with rising religious intolerance mostly driven by radical Buddhist nationalists. Attacks on religious minorities and their places of worship in Sri Lanka is not uncommon, but programs like this would seek to diminish that threat. 

08/05/2017 Sri Lanka (Asia News) – Seth Sarana, the Caritas of the Colombo Archdiocese, promotes coexistence in Sri Lanka as a multi-national and multi-religious country.

Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Catholic clergy met at the Buddhist temple of Angurukaramulla in Negombo on 29 July where they collected signatures from supporters of interfaith coexistence with different backgrounds.

Setting off from the temple, the group walked around the city for about 10 km, visiting several places belonging to various religious groups, always asking people to sign their appeal for coexistence.

This comes at a time when the country is still emerging from almost thirty years of civil war between Tamil and Sinhalese, often presented as a war between Hindus and Buddhists. Still today, tensions remain between Buddhist, Christian and Muslim groups.

“We must overcome violence in different parts of Sri Lanka done in the name of religion and ethnicity,” said the Venerable Yatawatte Ganarama Thero, current head of Bodirajarama Maha Viharaya, in Negombo. “We must prove that we can live as one family in our multi-ethnic and multi-religious country.”

“In the past, we have shown that we can live together, but harmony has been completely destroyed by several episodes of violence,” said Muslim representative Abdhul Rahuman, who spoke to Asia News at the Periyammula Maha Palliya Mosque.

“Still, we shall once again achieve unity between us and this will teach people to think and accept all religions and ethnic groups as they are. We bless and appreciate the action taken by the Catholic Church to promote interfaith coexistence.”

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