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» 08/17/2012
SRI LANKA
Forty radical Buddhists attack Protestant clergyman and his wife in Matara
by Melani Manel Perera
The attack occurred on 9 August in Deniyaya, southern Sri Lanka. President Rajapaksa's brother-in-law was present. The two, who belong to the Assembly of God Church, are accused of handing out Christian religious material in the area.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - A group of 40 Buddhists attacked a clergyman from the Assembly of God Church and his wife in Deniyaya (Matara District, southern Sri Lanka) on 9 August for allegedly promoting Christianity in the area. Radical Buddhists do not tolerate the presence of Protestant groups, and want them expelled from predominantly Buddhist regions. Deniyaya is home to about 500 Christians.

According to the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), the attackers stoped the clergyman and his wife with a jeep and three three-wheelers, acting in total impunity since local police did not intervene.

Some eyewitnesses said that among the attackers they recognised the group's leader, Thusitha Ranawaka, who owns a local construction company and is President Mahinda Rajapaksa's brother-in-law. Although present, he simply looked on what was happening. The attackers included five Buddhist religious and the local government secretary.

The NCEASL reported that, in addition to the attack against the Protestant clergyman, another mob of Buddhists harassed a Methodist woman, forcing her to leave the area.

In southern Sri Lanka, radical Buddhists have been engaged in anti-Christian campaign for some years. For them, the Christian minority constitutes a threat to local religious traditions.

In June 2008, more than 7,000 people took to the street in Middeniya (Hambanthota District) in order to expel the Assembly of God Church and its members because they are a menace to "Buddhist integrity".

The Jathika Hela Urumaya (National Heritage) Party and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (People's Liberation Front), two extremist parties in the ruling coalition government, back the anti-Christian campaign. The first is made up of Buddhist monks who support anti-conversion laws; the second is Marxist-oriented.

Christians, Muslims and Hindus have seen their religious freedom curtailed in other parts of the country. On 20 April, about 2,000 Buddhist believers and monks attacked a mosque in Dambulla (central Sri Lanka), calling on the government to tear it down and ban the construction of more non-Buddhist religious buildings.


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See also
05/11/2011 SRI LANKA
Christians should take part in ‘Vesak’ celebrations to boost ethnic reconciliation
by Melani Manel Perera
03/11/2005 INDIA
Christian and Muslim Dalits backed by fellow Dalits from other religions
02/04/2005 SRI LANKA
Mgr Gomis urges politicians to work for human rights and religious freedom
01/30/2009 SRI LANKA
Anti-conversion bill: minorities fear restrictions on religious freedom
by Melani Manel Perera
04/13/2007 NEPAL
Muslim minority wants quotas in parliament and civil service
by Prakash Dubey

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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