The head of Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic church dropped a bombshell Sunday declaring that the 2019 Easter attack was “politically” driven and had nothing to do with Islamic extremism.
Malcom cardinal Ranjith said those who carried out the April 21 suicide bombings against three churches and three hotels were only pawns manipulated by powerful political forces.
“Our brethren were attack not by (Islamic) religious extremism, but by a group that exploited it to use the attackers as pawns in order to strengthen their political power.”
“What we see in this (Easter Sunday attack) is not religious fanaticism or a love for a religion, but the attempts of certain forces to consolidate their position.”
The Cardinal did not name names at a ceremony at the General Cemetery in Borella to bless a memorial for the victims of the attack, but his remarks resonated with claims of a conspiracy.
Members of the current opposition have accused the ruling party, then in the opposition, of directly or indirectly supporting the suicide bombings in order to undermine the shaky coalition government.
The current opposition has noted that Gotabaya Rajapaksa launched his presidential election bid two days after the Easter attack on a pledge to restore national security which became a key campaign issue.
Opposition parties have alleged that the leader of the suicide squad, Zahran Hashim, had previously been on the payroll of the intelligence services during the previous Rajapaksa administration.
Cardinal Ranjith on Sunday opened two monuments at the Borella and Madampitiya cemeteries where some of the 279 people killed in the Easter attacks have been buried.
He pressed for justice for the victims, but stopped short of repeating his demand to punish then president Maithripala Sirisena for failing to prevent the bombings despite advance warnings.
The PCOI appointed by Sirisena found that he was negligent and recommended criminal proceedings against him for not stopping the attacks despite an Indian intelligence agency alerting to it 17 days earlier.
More than 200 people have been arrested in connection with the bombings, but no one has been indicted yet.
Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect World Forum for Sri Lankan Muslims (wfslm.org) point-of-view.