By THE BLUE AND GRAY PRESS EDITORIAL BOARD
On Easter morning, nine bombs detonated in and around Colombo and Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. As of Wednesday, the death toll has risen to 359 with over 500 injured. The U.N. children’s agency said the dead included at least 45 children. The suicide bombings, which the Islamic State has now claimed responsibility for, targeted three churches and three hotels during the Sunday morning service.
The Sri Lankan state minister of defense, Ruwan Wijewardene, said that intelligence units were previously aware of the attack and that a “weakness” within Sri Lanka’s security led to the failure to prevent the bombings. Several other groups have also been implicated in the attack. Wijewardene said the government has evidence that the attack was “by an Islamic fundamentalist group” in retaliation for the March 15 New Zealand mosque shootings that killed 50 people.
This was a pointed attack on a minority group. The pointless slaughter of hundreds of people is tragic and unacceptable, but it is unfortunately no longer uncommon.
Sri Lanka has not seen violence of this kind since the end of its civil war in 2009. Sri Lanka has no history of Islamic militancy, and its small Christian community has seen only scattered incidents of harassment. This is not a far away issue; this could have happened anywhere, and we can never know what group is going to be targeted next.
This is why it is especially important for the public to come together and recognize the simple, common ignorance and prejudice that spirals into carnage. We should take every opportunity to educate and call out hatred and aggression wherever it exists. We should go out of our way to support people who are different from us. We need to respond to these events after they happen, but also make change in our daily lives to prevent these situations from arising within our communities, at home and worldwide. Our hearts go out to the family members and communities affected by this tragedy.