Saudi Islamic scholar arrested over Easter bombings in Sri Lanka

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Saudi scholar arrested over Easter bombings in Sri Lanka

Mohamed Aliyar, 60, is the founder of the Centre for Islamic Guidance, which boasts a mosque, a religious school and a library in Zahran’s hometown of Kattankudy, a Muslim-dominated city on Sri Lanka’s eastern shores.

WORLD Updated: May 13, 2019 10:46 IST

Reuters
Reuters
Kattakudy, Sri Lanka
The government says Zahran, a radical Tamil-speaking preacher, was a leader of the group.(AFP FILE/ Representative Image)

Sri Lankan authorities have arrested a Saudi-educated scholar for what they claim are links with Zahran Hashim, the suspected ringleader of the Easter Sunday bombings, throwing a spotlight on the rising influence of Salafi-Wahhabi Islam on the island’s Muslims.

Mohamed Aliyar, 60, is the founder of the Centre for Islamic Guidance, which boasts a mosque, a religious school and a library in Zahran’s hometown of Kattankudy, a Muslim-dominated city on Sri Lanka’s eastern shores.

“Information has been revealed that the suspect arrested had a close relationship with … Zahran and had been operating financial transactions,” said a police statement late on Friday.

The statement said Aliyar was “involved” with training in the southern town of Hambantota for the group of suicide bombers who attacked hotels and churches on Easter, killing over 250 people.

A police spokesman declined to provide details on the accusations.

Calls to Aliyar and his associates went unanswered. Reuters was unable to find contact details for a lawyer.

The government says Zahran, a radical Tamil-speaking preacher, was a leader of the group.

Two Muslim community sources in Kattankudy told Reuters his hardline views were partly shaped by ultra-conservative Salafi-Wahhabi texts that he picked up at the Centre for Islamic Guidance’s library around 2-3 years ago. The sources are not affiliated with the centre.

“I used to always run into him at the centre, reading Saudi journals and literature,” said one of the sources.

During that time, Zahran started criticising the practice of asking God for help, for instance, arguing that such pleas were an affront to pure Islam.

“That kind of teaching was not in Sri Lanka in 2016, unless you read it in Salafi literature,” the source added, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions in Kattankudy.

Salafism, a puritanical interpretation of Islam that advocates a return to the values of the first three generations of Muslims and is closely linked to Wahhabism, has often been criticised as the ideology of radical Islamists worldwide.

Wahhabi Islam has its roots in Saudi Arabia and is backed by its rulers, although Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has committed the kingdom to a more moderate form of Islam.

Other than the fact that Zahran visited the centre, the sources in Kattankudy said they did not know of any personal ties between him and Aliyar.

Aliyar founded the centre in 1990, a year after he graduated from the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, in what one resident said marked a key moment in the spread of Salafi doctrine in Kattankudy. The centre was partly funded by Saudi and Kuwaiti donors, according to a plaque outside.

TROUBLEMAKER

Reuters spoke to three members of the centre’s board before Aliyar’s arrest. They asked to remain anonymous, citing security concerns amid a backlash against some Muslims.

They said Zahran was a troublemaker and that they had warned authorities about his extremist views. The members said they thought Zahran frequented the library around a decade ago, but had no recollection of him visiting recently and denied that any of its books were to blame for his views.

Funding for the center came from local donations, student fees, and private donors who were classmates of Aliyar’s in Riyadh, the centre’s sources said. Reuters was unable to immediately determine further details about the funding of the centre.

The Saudi government communications office in Riyadh did not respond to requests for comment on the funding of the centre.

(Additional reporting by Stephen Kalin in Riyadh and Ranga Sirilal in Colombo; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer, Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

First Published: May 12, 2019 14:25 IST

India: BJP Leader Shot Dead By Militants In His Home

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

BJP leader shot dead by militants in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag

BJP leaders said that Ghulam Mohammed Mir was without any security which was withdrawn by the government recently.

INDIA Updated: May 05, 2019 09:25 IST

Mir Ehsan
Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
breaking,death,crime'
Image for representation(ANI file photo)

Ahead of Monday’s final phase of polls for Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, militants shot dead district vice president BJP in Anantnag district late Saturday night.

Ghulam Mohammed Mir,55, who had contested assembly elections on a BJP ticket from Anantnag was killed inside his house at Verinag.

BJP leaders said that Mir was without any security which was withdrawn by the government recently.

BJP state spokesman Altaf Thakur said that Mir was killed by militants inside his house on Saturday night. “He received several bullets and died on way to hospital.”

Thakur termed the killing of Mir barbaric and said despite threats from militants his security was withdrawn by the government. “He was under constant threat from militants, yet his security was taken back.”

Police spokesman said that unknown militants fired upon a member of the BJP Ghulam Mohammed Mir at Nowgam Verinag. “He was shifted to hospital in critical condition.”

This is the second attack on any political worker in South Kashmir. On Thursday militants shot and injured a civilian Abdul Rashid Bhat of Kuchmulla Tral. Bhat was a former member of a political party

Pulwama and Shopian districts will go for polls on Monday in the third phase. Due to security reasons, polls for Anantnag Lok Sabha seat is being held in three phases. Two phases had passed without any militant attack on any worker.

First Published: May 04, 2019 22:45 IST

 tags

Sri Lanka Attacks: Relatives Of Key Suspect Zahran Hashim Killed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Sri Lanka attacks: Relatives of key suspect Zahran Hashim killed

Sri Lankan army personnel stand guard at a checkpoint as they search people and their bags at a check point in Kattankudy near Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, 28 AprilImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Searches have been carried out in Kattankudy

The father and two brothers of the alleged organiser of the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, Zahran Hashim, were killed in a security forces operation on Friday, police say.

Hashim, who blew himself up at a hotel in Colombo, founded an Islamist group, the NTJ, which has now been banned.

Police have raided the group’s HQ in the eastern town of Kattankudy.

The Sri Lankan president has announced a ban on face coverings, aimed at Muslim women following the attacks.

The attacks targeted churches and hotels, killing at least 250 people.

Sunday church services were cancelled across the country as a precaution but worshippers in the capital gathered to pray outside St Anthony’s, which was badly damaged in the attacks.

How did Hashim’s relatives die?

Security forces raided a house in Sainthamaruthu, near Hashim’s hometown Kattankudy, on Friday.

Gunmen opened fire as troops moved in, police say, and three men set off explosives, killing themselves, six children and three women. Three other people died in gunfire.

The headquarters of the NTJ under police guardImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionPolice sealed off the NTJ’s headquarters on Sunday

A close family relative confirmed for BBC News that Hashim’s father and two brothers died in the raid.

Police sources who spoke to Reuters news agency named the three men as Mohamed Hashim, and his sons Zainee Hashim and Rilwan Hashim.

All three had been seen in a video circulating on social media calling for all-out war against all non-believers, Reuters adds.

In Kattankudy itself, police searched the headquarters of the NTJ (National Thawheed Jamath), which Zahran Hashim had led.

Presentational grey line

‘Safe house’ discovered by chance

By Anbarasan Ethirajan, BBC News, Sainthamaruthu

GV of house that was raided
Image caption The safe house was discovered after local people alerted police

When I entered the house where the Islamists and their families were killed on Friday evening, the smell of death was unbearable.

A police officer at the site also said Zahran Hashim’s mother was also believed to be among the victims.

Security forces have been conducting raids across the country but this safe house was discovered by chance, when the suspicious house owner and local people alerted the police.

Every day, police are making arrests, seizing weapons, explosives and jihadist material suggesting the radicalisation process, however small it may be, has been happening over a period of time. If the security agencies had missed this, then it is a colossal failure.

The ongoing raids and discovery of weapons and material are gradually building up tensions among the communities. A hotel owner said she was worried because she was a Catholic. Muslims say they are nervous to visit Sinhala-majority areas. Some foreign governments have warned that there is a possibility of further attacks and if those happen, fragile ethnic relations could be further strained.

Presentational grey line

Announcing the ban on face coverings, which will begin on Monday, President Maithripala Sirisena said he was taking the emergency measure on national security grounds.

The announcement made no specific mention of the niqab and burka – worn by Muslim women – but instead said people’s faces should be fully visible so they could be identified.

What happened on Easter Sunday?

Sri Lanka has been on high alert since a co-ordinated wave of bombings last Sunday, which also wounded more than 500 people.

The bombings targeted churches that were packed full for the Easter holiday, as well as hotels popular with tourists.

As well as St Anthony’s Shrine, bombers struck churches in Negombo and the eastern city of Batticaloa, and hotels in the capital, Colombo.

Most of those killed were Sri Lankan, but dozens of foreign citizens were also among the dead.

Media caption‘This is Sri Lanka’: Fighting back with peace

While the authorities have blamed the NTJ for the attacks, they say they must have had help from a larger network.

The Islamic State group, which carried out mass attacks on civilians in Paris and other locations in recent years, has said it was involved, but has not given details.

How are the victims being remembered?

Christians in Sri Lanka prayed at home while the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, held a televised Mass, attended by the president and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

He called the attacks an “insult to humanity” in the service, broadcast from a chapel in his residence.

Media caption Sri Lankans pray and light candles, one week after a string of bombings by Islamist militants

“Today during this Mass we are paying attention to last Sunday’s tragedy and we try to understand it,” he said.

“We pray that in this country there will be peace and co-existence and understanding each other without division.”

Scores of people gathered for the public service outside St Anthony’s, where Buddhist monks joined Catholic priests in a show of solidarity with the Christian community.

Crowds of people watched the heavily-guarded church from behind a barricade, with some singing hymns and passing rosary beads through their hands.

Many lit candles and placed them in a makeshift memorial for the victims.

The church’s bells tolled at 08:45 (03:15 GMT) – the exact moment a bomber detonated his device one week ago.

The hands of its damaged clock tower are still stuck at that time.

Chabad shooting victim named as Lori Gilbert-Kaye, said to have shielded Rabbi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Chabad shooting victim named as Lori Gilbert-Kaye, said to have shielded rabbi

Friend says 60-year-old mother jumped between gunman and rabbi at Poway Chabad center; Israeli girl and her uncle injured in rampage

Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in a shooting at a San Diego County synagogue on April 27, 2019 (Facebook)

Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in a shooting at a San Diego County synagogue on April 27, 2019 (Facebook)

The US woman killed in a shooting at a San Diego County synagogue was named late Saturday as Lori Gilbert-Kaye, a 60-year-old mother.

Gilbert-Kaye was attending Passover services at the synagogue when a gunman opened fire with an assault rifle on worshipers at the Poway, California, synagogue, local authorities said.

Three other people were injured, including Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 57, who was leading services at the time and was shot in both hands.

The other two were Noya Dahan, 8, a girl originally from Sderot in Israel who was hit by shrapnel in the face and leg, and her uncle Almog Peretz, 31, who was shot in the leg as he ushered children in a playroom to safety, according to media reports. Israel’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the two were injured, adding that the consul in Los Angeles, Avner Saban, had spoken with the girl’s mother and offered help.

Authorities said all three were in stable condition.

Gilbert-Kaye was described in media reports and by fellow congregants as a mother of one.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Chabad of Poway, California. (Facebook)

Her friend Audrey Jacobs, a community activist, said Gilbert-Kaye had jumped in front of Rabbi Mendel Goldstein — Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein’s son — “to take the bullet and save his life.”

“Lori you were a jewel of our community a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valor,” Jacobs wrote on Facebook. “You were always running to do a mitzvah (good deed) and gave tzedaka (charity) to everyone. Your final good deed was taking the bullets for Rabbi Mendel Goldstein to save his life.

“Lori leaves behind a devastated husband and 22-year-old daughter,” she added.

Witnesses said the injured rabbi continued his speech calling for unity and peace despite suffering gunshot wounds to both index fingers.

“The rabbi said, ‘We are united,’” said congregation member Minoo Anvari, who said her husband witnessed the shooting.

“He prayed for peace,” she said, according to the Chabad website. “Even in spite of being injured he refused to go to the hospital until he spoke. And he finished his speech and he then left the synagogue.”

“We are strong; you can’t break us,” Anvari said.

Rabbi Goldstein also serves as a Jewish chaplain at the local San Diego police department.

He underwent surgery and would have to remain hospitalized for several days, according to Dr. Michael Katz, trauma chief at Palomar Medical Center, according to the San Diego Jewish World.

According to Jacobs’ Facebook post, the family of the injured Israeli girl and her uncle “moved to San Diego from the Israeli city of Sderot to get away from the terrorism and the constant attacks on their community.”

Sderot has been targeted by thousands of rockets fired by terror groups in the Gaza Strip over the last 15 years.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore addresses the media in front of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue after a shooting on April 27, 2019 in Poway, California. (Photo by SANDY HUFFAKER / AFP)

Rabbi Yonah Fradkin, executive director of Chabad of San Diego County, said in a statement that “in the face of senseless hate we commit to live proudly as Jews in this glorious country. We strongly believe that love is exponentially more powerful than hate. We are deeply shaken by the loss of a true woman of valor, Lori Kaye, who lost her life solely for living as a Jew.”

“Lori Gilbert-Kaye is a Jewish heroine, and will be remembered as a heroine in Jewish history,” said Israel’s minister of diaspora affairs, Naftali Bennett. “She sacrificed her own life, throwing herself in the path of the murderer’s bullets to save the life of the rabbi. But it is clear that such heroism and good deeds are not only characteristic of dear Lori in death, but that this was the way she lived her life — constantly doing charity and good deeds for those in need.”

Police have named the suspect in the shooting as John Earnest, 19, from San Diego, and have said they are reviewing an anti-Semitic white nationalist manifesto allegedly posted by a user with the same name.

“We’re looking into digital evidence and checking the authenticity of an online manifesto,” the office of San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said.

Earnest surrendered to police after leaving the synagogue and calling to report the shooting, according to authorities.

Gore declined to say what the motive for the crime was, but Poway Mayor Steve Vaus and others have said it appeared to be a hate crime.

Agencies contributed to this report.

READ MORE:

Give Me Soft Targets And I’ll Kill you all!

Give Me Soft Targets And I’ll Kill you all!

 

This title is for two purposes, to get your attention and to try to get people to actually think a little bit. I had just finished my supper and had sat down to write a poem for this blog but I got distracted by the news of a mass shooting in southern California so I decided to write this first. I am also writing this letter to you today so as to make sure to everyone exactly how I feel on the issue of firearms. I am a person that when I do go out of the house I very often carry a 45 Ruger (concealed) everywhere I go. When I go into a store around here I know that plenty of folks are carrying a sidearm also. If I go into a store or business of any kind I know that if I chose to act the part of a fool and pull my sidearm that most likely several people around me would shoot me dead, as they should. The management of businesses also know that the people like me who carry are actually extra security for their business and for their employees and they don’t even have to pay for the protection. It is the same for when people go to a House of Worship, if there are let’s say, 200 people in the building probably at least 20 are carrying a firearm. Because of the Constitutional right that we all have to protect ourselves we then become not such a ‘soft’ target.

 

Cowards love soft targets and the reason is simple, they want to cause as much death as possible without getting shot themselves. If a person goes into a ‘soft target’ like a synagogue they are not expecting to be shot at, they want to be the only one with a gun so that they can continue to kill people until they run out of bullets. Today at the Chabad Synagogue in Poway California a 19-year-old man walked into the Passover Service and started shooting, he shot four people killing only one even though he was using (reportedly) a semi auto AR-15 assault rifle. There is only one reason there are not many more dead people this evening and that was because there was a member of the Congregation, a Border Patrol Agent there WITH HIS FIREARM. This agent shot at the murderer (missing him) and the coward fled. Having a gun in the building saved many lives today.

 

Here in the U.S. the Democratic Party Platform has for years been trying to make every law-abiding citizen an easy kill for every lunatic, A-hole, hate filled soul as well as for all the terrorist. Also remember that not all police officers or all military personal are honest decent people either, this is why the framers of the Constitution insisted that the people have a way to defend themselves from a tyranny filled government. Have you ever noticed that the people who scream the loudest about ‘gun control’ like Hillary Clinton have multiple guns protecting her and Bill at all times. That is called hypocrites folks. These same people who do not want the U.S. building walls have themselves built high walls around themselves and their homes. Terrorists in this country have always chosen soft targets to do their evil, places like Churches, synagogues, and schools. The day will come where terrorists, domestic and foreign will start mass bombings and shootings here on our soil against police agencies and government agencies as well as against the politicians. If people like Hillary had any sense they would advocate for good background checks and for the citizens to be able to protect themselves. That is what honest politicians would do, ones who trusted their own citizens, but then again, that statement does say it all. You notice I did say ‘honest politicians’ whom actually trust their own citizens!

Citing ‘high, concrete’ terror threat, Israel tells citizens to leave Sri Lanka

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Citing ‘high, concrete’ terror threat, Israel tells citizens to leave Sri Lanka

Four days after Easter suicide bombings killed at least 359 people and wounded 500 more, Counter-Terrorism Bureau tells Israelis to come home, cancel planned trips

Security personnel stand guard in front of St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 23, 2019, two days after a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. (Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

Security personnel stand guard in front of St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo on April 23, 2019, two days after a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. (Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

The Israel National Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau on Thursday issued a warning for travel to Sri Lanka, saying there was a “high and concrete” chance of a terror attack, four days after the Easter Sunday suicide bombing attacks that killed more than 350 people in and around the capital of Colombo.

The agency said Israeli travelers should leave the island as soon as possible, and those planning to visit were advised to cancel their trips.

The announcement means the country now bears the security agency’s second-highest warning. The decision to issue the warning was made after consultations with security officials and the Foreign Ministry.

On Thursday, Sri Lankan authorities banned drones and unmanned aircraft and continued to set off controlled detonations of suspicious items. Sri Lanka’s civil aviation authority said that it was taking the aircraft measure “in view of the existing security situation in the country.”

A priest conducts a mass burial for Easter Sunday bomb blast victims in Negombo, Sri Lanka on April 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Hobby drones have been used by attackers in the past to carry explosives. Iraqi forces found them difficult to shoot down while driving out the Islamic State group, whose members loaded drones with grenades or simple explosives to target government forces. And Yemen’s Houthi rebels has used drones, most recently to target a military parade in January, killing troops.

Sri Lankan police continued their search for explosives, detonating a suspicious item in a garbage dump in Pugoda, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of Colombo.

The attacks Easter Sunday mainly at churches and hotels killed at least 359 people and wounded 500 more, the government said Wednesday. Most were Sri Lankan but the Foreign Ministry has confirmed 36 foreigners died. The remains of 13 have been repatriated. Fourteen foreigners are unaccounted for, and 12 were still being treated for injuries in Colombo hospitals.

Sri Lankan security personnel walk next to dead bodies on the floor amid blast debris at St. Anthony’s Shrine following an explosion in the church in Colombo on April 21, 2019. (ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP)

A top Sri Lankan official has said that many of the suicide bombers were highly educated and came from well-off families.

Junior defense minister Ruwan Wijewardene said at least one had a law degree and others may have studied in the UK and Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said one of the bombers had been in the country on a student visa with a spouse and child before leaving in 2013.

A British security official also confirmed one bomber is believed to have studied in the UK between 2006 and 2007. The security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation, said British intelligence had not been watching Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed during his stay in the country. His name was first reported by Sky News.

A photo published on the Islamic State terror groups propaganda outlet, the Amaq agency, on April 23, 2019, showing what the group says is eight bombers who carried out the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka. (Amaq)

Sri Lankan government leaders have acknowledged that some intelligence units were aware of possible terror attacks against churches or other targets weeks before the bombings. The president asked for the resignations of the defense secretary and national police chief without saying who would replace them.

Sri Lankan authorities have blamed a local extremist group, National Towheed Jamaat, whose leader, alternately named Mohammed Zahran or Zahran Hashmi, became known to Muslim leaders three years ago for his incendiary online speeches. On Wednesday, junior defense minister Ruwan Wijewardene said the attackers had broken away from National Towheed Jamaat and another group, which he identified only as “JMI.”

Sri Lankan security personnel inspect the debris of a car after it explodes when police tried to defuse a bomb near St. Anthony’s Shrine as priests look on in Colombo on April 22, 2019, a day after the series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. (Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Authorities remain unsure of the group’s involvement, though authorities are investigating whether foreign militants advised, funded or guided the local bombers.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara has said 58 suspects have been detained since the bombings.

READ MORE:

Christians Worldwide Face Serious Persecution As Sri Lanka Shows

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS)

 

Iwas up before dawn this morning, preparing for our first service of Easter. This meant that, around the same time as bombs were going offin churches in Sri Lanka, I was reading a passage to my congregation taken from the book of Ezekiel. The passage tells of dead bones coming back together, of bodies being re-clothed in flesh and of life being breathed back into them. Over in Sri Lanka, bones were being blown apart, and flesh stripped from skin. These people woke up this morning full of hope, excited in anticipation of the story of Jesus’s resurrection. They put on their best clothes and polished their shoes. Now their blood is being mopped from the sanctuary floor.

I was talking the other day to the classicist Mary Beard about Christian persecution in Roman times – all that stuff about lions and the Coliseum. She was of the opinion that it might not have been quite as big a deal as later Christians made it out to be. And no doubt there is nothing quite like a few over egged stories of gory martyrdom to deepen a sense of group solidarity among a struggling religious community. Well, I bow to Mary’s greater knowledge of classical Rome. But while it may have been true that too much was made of Roman persecution, the very opposite is true now. We are living though one of the most serious phases of Christian persecution in history, and most people refuse to acknowledge it.

During the past century, Christianity has been all but driven out of the Middle East, the place of its birth. This time last year I was in Damascus, visiting the Christian community there. On the front of the church that I went to on Sunday morning there was a huge mural depicting the horrors of the Armenian genocide. These Christians were originally refugees from Turkey, and had arrived there fleeing the most sustained and horrendous persecution. How much of this story do we know? This week, the Israeli historians Benny Morris and Dror Ze’evi will publish a much-awaited account of the period. The Thirty-Year Genocide: Turkey’s Destruction of its Christian Minorities argues that from 1894 to 1924, the Turkish authorities systematically murdered some 2.5 million Christians. At the beginning of that period, in places like Anatolia, Christians accounted for 20% of the population. By the end of it, there were just 2% left. Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, Christians have been driven from the Middle East with bombs and bullets, and with hardly a bat squeak of protest from the secular west.

Why no outrage? Yes, these horrendous murders will make the press for a day or two – but we generally care more about the fire in a famous cathedral than we do about those people who have their bodies blown to bits in architecturally less significant places of worship.

Why the blind spot – especially given that we do care about so many other forms of oppression? No, it’s not a competition. But I do wonder whether on some unconscious level the secular and broadly progressive west thinks that Christianity had it coming. They associate Christianity with popes and their armies, with crusades and inquisitions, with antisemitism, British imperialism, Trump supporters and abortion protesters.

Christians in the west haven’t helped. By describing as “persecution” the minor run-ins that Christianity has had with the law – about cakes for gay couples or street preachers, for example – Christians have debased the word persecution and made it sound like a manipulation designed to reclaim some lost place in the culture. Moreover, porky and pink-faced bishops in the House of Lords do not look like a persecuted species, and so when they talk about Christian persecution they look faintly ridiculous.

A memorial marking the 102nd anniversary of the mass killings of Armenians in Istanbul, Turkey, 24 April 2017.
Pinterest
 A memorial marking the 102nd anniversary of the mass killings of Armenians in Istanbul, Turkey, 24 April 2017. Photograph: Sedat Suna/EPA

And maybe there are some who don’t want to talk about Christian persecution because they fear that it could easily be used – as it sometimes is – as an alibi for Islamophobia. Easier to fall silent about the murder of Christians than to be seen to side with those racists who blame Muslims for everything. I understand this – but it’s still not good enough.

According to the widely respected Pew report, Christianity remains the world’s most persecuted religion. And the only reason for mentioning this so crassly in terms of league tables is simply that it serves to highlight the deafening silence of our response to it. From North Korea (OK, obviously) to China, and increasingly even in places such as India – all around the world Christians are subject to real and sustained violence for the profession of their faith, the one that we proclaim most insistently today. That life is stronger than death. That love will ultimately triumph over hate.

And this means that we believe terrorism can never quench the proclamation of the good news of Easter. At Easter, darkness doesn’t have the last word. That is why people were going to church in Sri Lanka in the first place, to listen again to this message: Christ is risen. Allelujah.

 Giles Fraser is a parish priest in Elephant and Castle, south London

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Coordinated attacks in Sri Lanka kill more than 200 people

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

In pictures: Coordinated attacks in Sri Lanka kill more than 200 people

Updated 9:43 AM ET, Sun April 21, 2019

Relatives of a victim of a blast at St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade, react at the police mortuary in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday.

Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

A series of bomb blasts struck luxury hotels and churches across Sri Lanka early Sunday. More than 200 people were killed and 560 injured in the coordinated attacks, which have put the entire country on lockdown.

The first wave of bombings struck at the heart of the country’s minority Christian community during busy Easter services at churches in the cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa.

PM Modi condemns Chhattisgarh attack that killed 5

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

‘Deeply anguishing’: PM Modi condemns Chhattisgarh attack that killed 5

In Delhi, the Election Commission said it had asked the state government and Chhattisgarh’s top election official for a report on the attack.

INDIA Updated: Apr 09, 2019 20:04 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PM Modi,Dantewada attack,BJP MLA
PM Modi said Bhima Mandavi, an MLA from the Dantewada constituency, was a dedicated party worker who assiduously served the people of the province.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the Dantewada attack that killed a Bharatiya Janata Party legislator and four security personnel on Tuesday in south Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada region.

“Strongly condemn the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh. My tributes to the security personnel who were martyred. The sacrifices of these martyrs will not go in vain,” PM Modi tweeted on the Maoist attack that comes days before Bastar votes in the first phase of Lok Sabha on Thursday.

PM Modi said Bhima Mandavi, an MLA from the Dantewada constituency, was a dedicated party worker who assiduously served the people of the province.

“Shri Bhima Mandavi was a dedicated Karyakarta (worker) of the BJP. Diligent and courageous, he assiduously served the people of Chhattisgarh. His demise is deeply anguishing. Condolences to his family and supporters. Om Shanti,” PM Modi added.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has called a high-level meeting to review the security situation in the state.

In Delhi, the Election Commission said it had asked the state government and Chhattisgarh’s top election official for a report on the attack.

The Election Commission had settled for voting in three phases for the state’s 11 Lok Sabha seats to give security personnel enough time to move from one constituency to another and familiarise themselves with the area that they have to secure.

Tuesday’s attack took place between Kuakonta and Syamgiri in Dantewada.

Maoists had blown up an IED on the road when the legislator’s convoy was passing through the district. One SUV was blown up in the attack that left a crater on the road. A reinforcement of CRPF contingent has been rushed to the explosion site.

First Published: Apr 09, 2019 20:01 IST

India: Jawans were killed for votes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

‘Jawans were killed for votes’: SP leader calls Pulwama attack a conspiracy

Big fish will be caught if the new government after 2019 Lok Sabha elections probe Pulwama terror attack, says Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav. UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath demands an apology from Yadav.

LOK SABHA ELECTIONS Updated: Mar 21, 2019 16:48 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Samajwadi Party,Pulwama Terror Attack,Ram Gopal Yadav
Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav has raked up fresh controversy over Pulwama terror attack terming it a conspiracy.(ANI)

Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav has revived attack on the Narendra Modi government over Pulwama terror strike owned by Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed. Yadav has called the Pulwama terror attack a “conspiracy” in which “soldiers were killed for vote”.

The SP leader said if the government changes in 2019 Lok Sabha election, and a probe is conducted into the Pulwama terror attack, “big fish” will be caught.

“Paramilitary forces are unhappy with the government. Soldiers were killed for votes. There was no security checking between Jammu and Srinagar. Soldiers were being transported in ordinary buses. This was a conspiracy. I did not want to say this at this point of time. When the government changes, (and) it is probed, many big fish will be caught,” news agency ANI on Thursday quoted Yadav as saying.

ANI UP

@ANINewsUP

RG Yadav,SP: Paramilitary forces dukhi hain sarkar se, jawan maar diye gaye vote ke liye,checking nahi thi Jammu-Srinagar ke beech mein, jawano ko simple buses main bhej diya,ye sazish thi, abhi nahi kehna chahta, jab sarkar badlegi, iski jaanch hogi, tab bade-bade log phasenge.

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Responding to Yadav’s comment, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said the SP leader should apologise for “lowering the morale of soldiers”.

“Ram Gopal Yadav has presented an undignified example of politics. He should apologise to the public for his comment meant to raise question on the martyrdom of the CRPF jawans and lowering the morale of the soldiers of the nation,” he said.

Forty CRPF jawans were killed on February 14, when a suicide bomber targeted a convoy carrying more than 2,500 personnel from Jammu to Srinagar. The incident took place in south Kashmir’s Pulwama.

The Pulwama terror attack saw escalation in tension between India and Pakistan. Days after the terror attack claimed by the JeM, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a “pre-emptive” strike in Pakistan’s Balakot. The target was what was believed to be the biggest terror training camp of the JeM.

Pakistan responded to the IAF strike on terror camp by violating Indian airspace in its attempt to target military installations. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) used a large package of fighter jets including the F-16 in its aerial campaign. An IAF response team foiled the PAF’s attempt to hit India’s military installations.

One F-16 fighter jet of the PAF was shot down by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was flying a MiG 21 Bison. The IAF aircraft was also shot down by the PAF. Pilot Abhinandan ejected safely but landed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, where he was captured by the Pakistan Army.

Amid mounting international pressure, Pakistan released IAF pilot Abhinandan leading to easing out tension between the two countries. The BJP-led government termed the development as its diplomatic victory following a “bold move” to hit at terror camp deep inside Pakistani territory.

The opposition has targeted the government alleging that it is using Pulwama terror attack and IAF strike at Balakot for political gain with an eye on the Lok Sabha election in April-May.

First Published: Mar 21, 2019 15:34 IST