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International Relations

Not in our name – UK MPs, interfaith leaders and Lankan diaspora

Sri Lankan British community representatives and religious leaders along with UK parliamentarians together denounced the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka at an interfaith meeting held in the House of Lords, Westminister, on Monday (29 April).

Deploring the attack, the participants condoled with the victims’ families and propounded universal loving kindness, a statement from the Sri Lanka High Commission in London said.

The interfaith meeting was organised by Lord Mohamed Sheikh, Member of the House of Lords, in partnership with the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in the UK Manisha Gunasekera, in remembrance of the victims in Sri Lanka.

Speaking at the ceremony, Lord Sheikh said the UK stands in solidarity across faiths with Sri Lanka in the face of this tragedy which he said “is not committed in our name”.

“The heinous acts of terror and carnage committed by misguided groups and entities should not shake people’s resolve and should not result in any division within peacefully co-existing communities and peoples in the UK, in Sri Lanka and throughout the world,” the Sri Lanka High Commission quoted him as saying.

Everyone must unite against such terror, bigotry and extremism to ensure non-recurrence, the Lord further said, referring to the support extended by the UK Government to Sri Lanka through, inter alia, the dispatch of a Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command specialist team and Family Liaison Officers. In its statement, the High Commission said he emphasised that these acts of terror run counter to the teachings of Islam which like the teachings of all religions express messages of universal love and peace.

High Commissioner Manisha Gunasekera in her address observed that the world’s spotlight is on Sri Lanka at this moment, in addressing this tragedy, which also highlights the growing terrorist threat to secular democratic states as well as the rapidly transforming international nexus between terrorism and radicalisation today.

Referring to the global condemnation of the carnage, she also highlighted the global recognition of the need for concerted action to combat this existential threat. While being a predominantly Buddhist country, Gunasekara went to say, Sri Lanka’s very fabric and identity is multi-faith.

“The terrorists, therefore, while targeting the Christian community, also targeted the very multi-cultural and multi-faith nature of being Sri Lankan,” she said.

Others who spoke at the event included Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and  Minister for Faith Lord Nick Bourne of Aberystwyth, former Minister for South Asia at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and former Minister of State for International Development Rt Alistaire Burt.

Chief Sangha Nayaka of Great Britain Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thero,, Bishop of Westminster John Wilson and other religious leaders also took part, along with a number of other dignitaries.