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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
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"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
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"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.

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