Over 200 young and old Christian Sri Lankans who went to worship and people sleeping in their hotels dead and even more wounded. How do you heal from such a tragedy? Such a sad thing to happen in such a beautiful, peaceful, hospitable country.
World leaders have condemned the attacks. President Erdogan of Turkey, Donald Trump of America, Theresa May of Britain, Emmanuel Macron of France, Imran Khan of Pakistan, Narendra Modi of India and so on.
Sri Lanka is around 70% Buddhist, 13% Hindu, 10% Muslim, and about 7.5% Christian. In April 2018 there was a wave of Buddhist violence against Muslim-owned shops and homes, caused by rumours being spread on social media. This may have been why the Sri Lankan temporarily banned several social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Viber.
If you are Sri Lankan, how does one appropriately react to such horrible actions?
Sri Lankan donor clinics are overflowing with volunteers. Thankfully, everyone is working together. Yet the anger must be immense. The feelings of rage to get retribution and justice towards those who did it. The feelings to lash out at anyone that looks similar or may share something, anything at all in common with the terrorists.
We live in a world where just a few radicalized individuals can do so much damage so easily.
What can we do?
We need not fall into a downward cycle of violence. We need to fight the urge to lash out indiscriminately towards those who have nothing to do with what happened.
While we don’t know yet if it’s an Islamic-inspired attack, we can say Muslims have been condemning such acts. The majority see it as nothing to do with their religion. We need to allow them to have this interpretation while also being able to state that there are awful things in their sacred texts that need to be scratched out or interpreted away. We need to encourage believers to be skeptical. To see that most hadith are questionable. That there is little we actually can really be certain about Muhammad’s life. That it doesn’t make sense to bring back 7th century Islam, but rather to bring Islam into the 21st century.
I have spoken to an individual in Syria and was at one point fighting. He is now a skeptic and I believe probably an exmuslim. This effort we are doing is so necessary. Please continue to support freethinkers, skeptics, and secularists. It is an ongoing battle and we cannot let down, an ongoing investment that has to continue. Liberal secularism is one of the best things we have, and we need to continue to fight for it, however we can.
April 21, 2019