Colombo (Agenzia Fides) - "In Kandy, interreligious violence has stopped and the situation has returned to normal. Tourism can return to prosper, as we all hope, while we are trying to mend the social fabric according to values of harmony, tolerance, peace and reconciliation, especially between Buddhists and Muslims. In this process the active contribution of religious leaders has been and remains decisive, and reaches the common people. Christians are also giving practical help to promote willingness to dialogue and contribute to an atmosphere of peace: it is a dialogue of life that starts from the exchange of experiences, to trace the shared horizon of the common good of the country": this is what Fr. Basil Fernando, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Sri Lanka said to Agenzia Fides, recalling the wave of anti-Muslim violence which broke out in the country in March, after a young Sinhalese died on 22 February following a private fight in Kandy.
The Director explains: "The recent violence has shocked us very much. Every religious faith has its negative extremist tendencies, and here also Buddhism has its own. We live in an environment with a large Buddhist majority: some sectors, even Buddhist monks, fuel violence, but I must frankly say that the majority of the Sri Lankan population rejects any form of new conflict. We lived a painful civil conflict for 30 years, which marked several generations; now the deep desire in the consciences is that of peace, harmony, well-being, construction of a free and prosperous country, free from all forms of violence and war".
Fr. Fernando notes that the world of artists, intellectuals, men of culture and media communication has also mobilized in Sri Lanka to condemn violence and ask for social peace: "New conflicts in society are being repudiated, especially if they are carried out in the name of religious faith", he observes.
In this delicate situation, the leaders of all religious confessions, says the Director of the Sri Lankan PMS, gathered and released very clear statements and messages, "deploring every form of aggression, violence and revenge, perpetrated in the name of God or by exploiting religion". "We want to avoid plunging back into that spiral of hatred that for years we experienced and made the population suffer so much, leaving thousands of victims. We must not fall into the trap of those few extremists who promote hatred and intolerance. We are aware of it and ready to commit ourselves to reconciliation and peace, in the name of the Gospel of Christ , concludes Fr. Fernando. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 22/3/2018)