A church building in Karuwalagaswewa, a rural and strongly Buddhist area of Sri Lanka, has been attacked and burned by a Buddhist mob. Recently, the local pastor of the minority Christian community was threatened and then told that if he complained to the police he would be killed. In spite of the intimidation, the threats were reported to police. The local police inspector called a meeting with the pastor and the local Buddhist monk, and promised to maintain peace, law and order. But that very night (5 January), a Buddhist mob over 200 strong attacked and destroyed the church.
Sri Lanka’s constitution declares that Buddhism, the religion of the island’s ethnic Sinhalese majority, shall have “the foremost place”. Christians, who comprise 8% of the population, are commonly harassed and have been victims of violence, with Buddhists claiming churches need to be “registered”, even though it is not actually a legal requirement.
The vulnerable congregation in Karuwalagaswewa continues to meet in the open air, despite the destruction of their building and the threats against them.