Members of Parliament, faith leaders and Sri Lankan diaspora deplore Sri Lanka terror attacks as ‘not in our name’ and propound universal loving kindness and solidarity at inter-faith meeting in UK Parliament

Media Release by SLHC

UK Members of Parliament, faith leaders and the British Sri Lankan community leaders deplored the Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka, condoled with the victims’ families, and propounded universal loving kindness at an inter-faith meeting held in the House of Lords, Westminster on Monday 29 April 2019. The interfaith meeting was organised by the Lord Sheikh, Member of the House of Lords in partnership with the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in the UK Manisha Gunasekera, in remembrance of the victims of the Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka.

Welcoming the eclectic group gathered, the Lord Sheikh emphasized that the UK stands in solidarity across faiths with Sri Lanka in the face of this tragedy which he affirmed ‘is not committed in our name’. He added that the heinous acts of terror and carnage committed by misguided groups and entities should not shake people’s resolve and should not result in any division within peacefully co-existing communities and peoples in the UK, in Sri Lanka and throughout the world. The Lord Sheikh added that all must unite against such terror, bigotry and extremism to ensure non-recurrence. He also referred to the support extended by the UK Government to Sri Lanka, through inter alia, the dispatch of a Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command specialist team and Family Liaison Officers. The Lord Sheikh emphasised that these acts of terror run counter to the teachings of Islam which like the teachings of all religions express messages of universal love and peace.

High Commissioner Manisha Gunasekera in her address observed that the world’s spotlight is on Sri Lanka at this moment, in addressing this tragedy, which also highlights the growing terrorist threat to secular democratic states as well as the rapidly transforming international nexus between terrorism and radicalisation today. She referred to the global condemnation of this carnage and the global recognition of the need for concerted action to combat this existential threat today. The High Commissioner emphasised that, while being a predominantly Buddhist country, Sri Lanka’s very fabric and identity is multi-faith. The terrorists, therefore, while targeting the Christian community, also targeted the very multi-cultural and multi-faith nature of being Sri Lankan. She commended the British Sri Lankan community of all faiths for standing in solidarity with Sri Lanka and the victims at this moment. The High Commissioner extended her deep appreciation to Lord Sheikh for organizing this interfaith meeting which provided a much needed moment of prayer and reflection for everyone.

The Lord Nick Bourne of Aberystwyth, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Faith and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales, speaking on behalf of the members of the House of Lords, referred to the universal condemnation of attacks on faith in Sri Lanka as in other parts of the world, and the external links of such attacks. He emphasised that ‘we must remain very clear that ‘this is not done in our name.’ Referring to the support extended by the UK political leadership across party lines to Sri Lanka in the face of this tragedy, he called for all faiths and communities to stand united and resolute against such attacks. ‘As somebody who has visited Sri Lanka frequently, my heart goes out to the people of Sri Lanka,’ added Lord Bourne.

The Rt Hon. Alistaire Burt, former Minister for South Asia at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and former Minister of State for International Development, deplored the abuse of faith and lack of tolerance prevalent globally, and indicated that ‘an attack on one, is an attack on all’. He emphasised the celebration of togetherness and unity as opposed to perpetuation of divisions, and appreciated his links with Sri Lanka.

The Most Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thero, Chief Sangha Nayake of Great Britain; Mr John Wilson, Bishop of Westminster; Rev Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons; Rabbai David Mason; Rev Father Sudham Perera, Chaplain of the Sri Lankan Catholic Sinhala Speaking Community; Krishan Kant Attri, Hindu Chaplain to the UK Army; Dr Al Dubayan (Muslim Leader); Mr Imam Qasim and Mr Yousuf Al Khoei were among the faith leaders that addressed the gathering. The Lord Dholakia OBE DL; The Rt Hon. Lord Swraj Paul; Virendra Sharma MP; Catherine West MP; Seema Malhotra MP and Afzal Khan MP, also addressed the gathering. Liz McInnes MP and Shadow Minister for South Asia; Christian Matheson MP, and UK Commonwealth Envoy Philip Parham were among those who attended the Meeting, along with members of the British-Sri Lankan community.

The Lord Sheikh Member of the House of Lords welcoming the gathering at the interfaith meeting

H E Manisha Gunasekera High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in the UK addressing the gathering at the interfaith meeting

The Lord Nick Bourne of Aberystwyth, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Faith and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales addressing the gathering at the interfaith meeting

The Rt Hon. Alistair Burt, former Minister for South Asia at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and former Minister of State for International Development addressing the gathering at the interfaith meeting