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Sri Lanka Tragedy — It’s Personal

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Sri Lankan soldiers outside St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo on April 21, 2019, following a bomb blast during the Easter service that killed tens of people. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Sri Lankan soldiers outside St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo on April 21, 2019, following a bomb blast during the Easter service that killed tens of people. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

I’ve just woken up on Easter Sunday to the Sri Lanka tragedy — the news of eight bomb blasts in the small country in which, at this time, at least 215 people have been killed and 400 hurt in explosions at churches and hotels.

As Congresswoman Ilhan Omar may say at some point about these attacks, “some people did something….” We know that it was our co-religionists who perpetuated this horrific attack on innocent people and places of worship on a day that is holy to Christians.

Unfortunately, this tragedy may reflect the words of Omar, because it’s not getting the same coverage as the Christchurch attack in New Zealand.

We wait with bated breath for Muslim leaders and organizations to soundly condemn armed jihad and this attack and to acknowledge that it was done by those who call themselves Muslim. Will heads of states wear Christian garb, go to church this Sunday and sing hymns in solidarity with their Christian brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka?

For me this is very personal.

I was educated in convent schools and a convent college and grew up with close Christian friends with whom we celebrated Easter and Christmas. I learned “The Lord’s Prayer” at a young age and my Christian teachers (Irish nuns) were instrumental in molding me as I was growing up to love and respect “the other.”

Fast forward to 2018 when my mother-in-law was very ill and had to be taken to Pakistan to her daughter’s home where she now lives. Her caregivers are Christian women who dedicate themselves solely to caring for my mother-in-law around the clock. It’s not easy as she’s 88 and bed ridden with many physical ailments.

When I asked them on my last visit how they handled the challenge, they replied, “We do it so we can get prayers from her and because our faith tells us to love and care for others as Jesus taught us.”

Today it’s not “some people who did something.” This terrible attack on Easter Sunday has clearly been done by radicalized Muslims. The sad part is that most Muslims will not acknowledge this, take responsibility for the hate that leads to such violence, and there will be those who will make excuses for them.

This is not a time for excuses, deflections or apologists for radicalized Islamists. We have to directly and unequivocally condemn this heinous attack and work towards eliminating the ideology that leads to violence in the name of faith.

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Raheel Raza

Raheel Raza is ​an adviser to Clarion Project. ​She is an award-winning author, journalist and filmmaker on the topics of jihad and sharia. She is president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an activist for human rights, gender equality, and diversity.