News & Politics

Sri Lanka Official: Easter Church Bombings Were 'Retaliation' for Christchurch Mosque Shooting

Dead bodies of victims lie inside St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)

On Tuesday, Sri Lanka’s defense minister claimed that the radical Islamic terror bombings targeting churches during Easter Sunday that killed at least 321 people in the South Asian country were carried out in retaliation for the white supremacist terror mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, last month.

“Extremist group named National Thowheed Jamaath carried out Sunday’s terror attacks in response to terror attacks in Christchurch,” Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said.

The Christchurch mosque shootings, carried out by a terrorist whose white supremacist manifesto went viral online, killed 50 people and injured 50 more. World leaders immediately condemned the attacker’s anti- Muslim hatred, with loud condemnations of Islamophobia.

The Christchurch shooter mentioned the Medieval Crusades and called for the Christian reconquest of Constantinople (modern Istanbul). His manifesto claimed he targeted Muslims as a form of “revenge against Islam for 1,300 years of war and devastation that it has brought upon the people fo the West and other peoples of the world.”

While Muslim empires did conquer vast parts of the world and many threatened the nations of Europe, there was no evidence to suggest the churches this terrorist targeted supported political Islam that would force Sharia (Islamic law) on non-Muslims.

Similarly, while the Christchurch terrorist claimed to fight in the name of the West and claimed the imprimatur of the Crusades, Christianity does not support terrorism and there is no suggestion that the churches targeted in the Sri Lanka bombings had any connection to the Christchurch terrorist.

Yet Wijewardene claimed that National Thowheed Jamaath, a radical Islamist terrorist organization, planned the Easter Sunday church bombings in retaliation for that horrific act of terrorism.

New Zealand officials said there was no evidence to make this connection. “New Zealand has not yet seen any intelligence upon which such an assessment might be based,” the office of New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said in a statement.

Two days after the Easter church bombings, the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the act of terror.

Many have shied away from noting that Christians were the clear target of terrorism in Sri Lanka, and they did not emphasize the hatred against Christians in the same way as news outlets and world leaders rightly emphasized the hatred against Muslims after the Christchurch attacks.

All terrorism should be equally condemned, and the media must not emphasize Islamophobia over Christianophobia. The cycle of retaliatory terrorism — if indeed that is the case in this situation — must be put to an end.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.