05/16/2006, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Three churches attacked in less than a month

Buddhist monks are leading the attacks. Sri Lanka's parliament is examining two dangerous anti-conversion bills.

 

Colombo (AsiaNews) – In less than a month three churches were attacked in Sri Lanka as a result of incitement by Buddhist monks, this according to Compass Direct which has reported arsons and threats against Christian targets in the country.

The first incident occurred on May 6 when a Buddhist monk led a mob to a site where members of the United Christian Fellowship in Poddala, Galle district, had begun building a community hall on land they had purchased in the village. The monk threatened the pastor and the construction workers.

The mob shouted they would set fire to the building if construction continued. Although the pastor told them that it was to be a community hall, and not a church, this failed to cool tempers.

Church staff reported the incident to police. Construction is on hold due to fears of another attack.

On April 30, Buddhist monks led another mob against a Methodist church in Piliyandala, south-east of Colombo.

Eyewitnesses said that a few monks and followers prevented the faithful from entering the church for Sunday mass.

The mob set car tires on fire on the road outside the church to frighten people away from the building.

When church members phoned the police, about 30 policemen arrived but said they could do nothing until they received instructions from their superintendent.

Church members were advised to make an official complaint, noting that the police had advised them not to hold the service in the interests of maintaining peace.

The police arrested 10 people in the mob and remanded them on a bail.

Similarly, an Assembly of God church has faced intense opposition, also in Piliyandala. Villagers launched a poster campaign in April, threatening mass protests if the church did not close down.

On April 9, a small crowd of 24 people gathered outside the church and chanted Buddhist prayers.

According to the National Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka, this is the same church that was bombed and completely burned to the ground on September 25, 2003.

Many Buddhist monks belong to the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) or National Heritage Party which is introduced one of the two dangerous anti-conversion bills that are currently under review in parliament.

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Anti-conversion bill: minorities fear restrictions on religious freedom
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