Why do attacks on places of worship go unabated?

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#SalamSeriLanka vigil

The Association for Community and Dialogue (Acid) condemns the blasts that ripped through hotels and churches on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka.

Hundreds of people have been killed and many more have been injured.

This comes after the shootings at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 15 March that killed many worshipers.

Those acts of hate have no boundaries because the world is going through a crisis of communal and religious identity rooted in fear of the other.

Fellow citizens and refugees are seen as threats rather than human beings who experience joy and suffering.

Justice is narrowed down to communal and religious sectarianism rather than considering broader aspects of justice that value humans for their dignity.

In spiritual terms, everyone is God’s child.

It is sad there are people who take sides by interpreting bombings and shootings from an ethno-religious sectarian perspective.

In Malaysia, it is vital that we understand the root causes of terrorism, which stem from global to national politics that have underlying economic dimensions, to understand why terrorist attacks on places of worship or elsewhere go unabated.

Europe is seeing the emergence of far-right parties that fear immigrants and are prejudiced against Muslims who have left their war-torn countries seeking help in the West. The pogrom by Islamic extremists against Christians in the Middle East and Africa has driven millions from their homeland.

There is another dimension that is seldom debated in the Western media. This has to do with global politics between the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia, which are engaged in proxy wars in Syria, Yemen and Libya, as well as Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land in the Middle East.

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This has caused an influx of refugees into Europe and has created uneasiness among Europeans, who fear their culture and civilisation are at stake.

All these have been cemented by a neoliberal economic system that encourages the plundering of land and resources, besides fuelling a thirst for cheap labour that has created apprehension among national and local populations whose jobs have been outsourced to other countries.

It is obvious that the loss of job security, inequality and the influx of refugees have driven people to their cocoons of ethno-religious security, instead of prompting them to work with ethnic and religious communities to oppose unjust political and economic systems.

Politicians and religious leaders seeking power and authority are capitalising on such fears, leading some people to extreme behaviours and terrorism.

In this context of global and national crisis, it is vital to rejuvenate interreligious dialogue in Malaysia so that people of different faiths can come together and address the root causes of hatred in the world and ethno-religious politics in this country.

Our interreligious interaction should go beyond consultation and building goodwill during festive seasons. We should oppose political hegemony, economic imperialism, national poverty and sectarianism, which are the root causes of extremism.

It is hoped that our dialogue addresses injustice and hatred. This is to prevent terrorism from happening on our soil.

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