The immovable feast cooked in Easter fires
Posted on April 27th, 2023

Malinda Seneviratne

Over the last 24 years, Easter Sunday has been celebrated on various days, from the 23rd of March to the 5th of May. It is then a movable holiday or, if one wants to be overly technical about it, a movable holy-day given that the word derives from the Old English hāligdæg (hālig ‘holy’ + dæg ‘day’).  Not all holidays have anything to do with divinity or religious purpose, but Easter certainly is. In Sri Lanka, however, while the ‘true’ Easter, if you will, is movable, there’s also a political Easter that is not only static but has in fact taken on greater significance. That’s the Easter Sunday of the attacks on several churches executed by…hold you breath…a since hardly-mentioned organisation led by a since-hardly-mentioned man.

April 21, 2019. The audacity of the attacks, the magnitude of the damage caused and the enormity of the tragedy certainly makes casual passover impossible, even though the politics that followed is as unholy as it can get.

So, first of all, a moment of silence.

A moment of silent in memory of those who lost their lives, were injured or who lost loved ones. A moment of silence for members of the clergy (let’s leave the relevant faith and denomination out) who called out for justice quite out of character to the ‘turn the other cheek’ recommendation.

A moment of silence for the perpetrators, the architects of the attack and those who executed them, their backers, apologists and others who through various means ensured that the name of a particular organisation and the names of particular perpetrators of a particular religious persuasion were systematically removed from the discourse on terrorism, truth, justice and retribution.

A moment of silence for whoever first touted the idea of a ‘mahamolakaru’ and all those who turned it into a refrain when talking about the tragedy, tossing around insinuations, tossed out the dictum ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ and proceeded to judge, condemn and execute…no, not the perpetrators, but some who were at worst enables on account of incompetence and negligence.

A moment of silence for the over 700 persons arrested in relation to these crimes, the over 300 enlarged on bail and the over 40 persons on whom 11 indictments have been served.

A moment of silence for those who believe justice was done the day stiff fines were imposed on some people whose ‘crime’ was, as mentioned, of the omission kind; the ‘some people,’ coincidentally or otherwise, belonging to a particular community which has been considered ‘The Enemy’ by spokespersons for both the accusing religious community and the religious community which the perpetrators belong to, now and in the long centuries that have passed.

A moment of silence for those whose fixations, ideological and political persuasions and shameless designs to use the Easter Sunday attacks to exact revenge on people they hated for reasons that had nothing to do with the tragedy pushed them to make a mockery of justice, truth and due process.

A moment of silence for selective amnesia. A moment of silence for selective and pernicious targeting. A moment of silence for ignoring the truth and in the process affecting a lovely pass for the religious fundamentalism that was the bedrock on which the attacks were planned and executed.

Those who carried out the attack were of a particular faith. Let’s not name it because that would be unholy. They prayed to an entity they considered divine before embarking on their murderous mission. Indeed they may have uttered the name of this entity at detonation-point by way of consoling themselves that the appreciative omnipotent would arrange a heavenly afterlife for them.

But no, terrorists have no religion. At least that’s the weak and laughable dismissal offered by those who were trigger-happy to attribute to an entire community numbering over ten million the crimes of a handful who happened to belong to that community because of given name, yes, not even close to, say, religious affiliation reverentially obtained and affirmed as was the case of the Easter Sunday terrorists.

Let’s forget all of the above, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s join hands with the vile, revengeful, pernicious, lying and myopic. Let’s form a human chain from Peduru Thuduwa through Colombo, Devundara Thuduwa, Madakalapuwa and back to Peduru Thuduwa.

Let us, in this hand-holding way, express unity in calling upon leaders to render justice to victims and remain conspicuously silent about the names and convictions of those who caused so much grief on that immovable and immutable Easter Sunday in the year 2019 and made us forget THAT resurrection and embraced the resurrection and re-resurrection of deceit and crass politicking in the name of justice and truth.

And let us celebrate the fact that thanks to these devious machinations, we’ve unshackled ourselves from the tyrannies of the Gregorian and Julian calendars. Let us retire prayer. Let us feast to our hearts’ content. Tongue-in-cheek of course.

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