Christians in a church in Sri Lanka had their Christmas Day service disrupted by mob violence.


On Christmas Day, a mob of about 30 people accosted members of the King's Revival Church in Alawwa, Kurunegala District, west central Sri Lanka. They threatened the pastor and warned the congregation not to attend the service. They told the pastor not to hold a Christmas service and warned they would attack again on New Year's Eve. Many worshippers fled in fear, according to a report by the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka. Those who continued on their way to church were beaten up. One man and three women were injured, and the man was taken to hospital for treatment. One of the women was pregnant. The incident was reported twice to the local police, on December 25 and December 28, but no action was taken to apprehend the attackers until December 29 when the police finally detained some people for questioning. In another incident on Christmas morning, a prominent Tamil, Joseph Pararajasingham, MP for the Tamil National Alliance party, was shot dead while attending a late night Christmas Eve service at St. Ann`s Catholic Cathedral in Batticaloa (Eastern Province). In a separate incident, five days before Christmas, the family of Mr Karunaratne, a deceased Christian, were refused permission to bury their relative in a local public cemetery. Local Buddhists told the family, from Hopton, Reindapola in Lunugala, Uva Province, south eastern Sri Lanka, that they could not bury the dead man in the cemetery because he was a Christian. The local police and authorities eventually intervened, and the burial went ahead, but the initial refusal is an example of continuing anti-Christian discrimination in Sri Lanka. CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: "We are most disturbed that this Christian community has been unable to celebrate Christmas in peace. We are also appalled that a family was initially denied permission to bury their relative in a public cemetery, simply because he was a Christian. We are pleased the local authorities appear in both cases to have eventually intervened to uphold the law, but we would urge the Sri Lankan Government at all levels to be proactive in ensuring protection for Christians, equal rights and freedom of religion for all. We urge the authorities to bring the perpetrators of violence to justice, and to do everything possible to eliminate extremism and intolerance."

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