Sunday’s bombings in Sri Lanka marked the country’s deadliest violence in a decade, leaving 290 dead and more than 500 injured. But the attacks, which targeted a religious minority in a predominantly Buddhist country, also resonated abroad — especially in Europe.
To some, it was further proof that Christians in many parts of the world are under attack. Several churches were targeted in Sunday’s bombing attacks, along with hotels and a banquet hall. At one Catholic church in Negombo, more than 100 people were killed. The attack took place on Easter, one of the most important dates on the Christian calendar.
“My thoughts are once again with the persecuted Christians around the world,” Marine Le Pen, president of France’s far-right National Rally party, wrote in a tweet on Monday. Those who died on Sunday were “targeted for their faith,” she added.
Le Pen, like some other European far-right leaders, had initially offered only vague condolences to victims of the bombings on Sunday. However, after Sri Lankan officials blamed a local Muslim militant group, National Thowheed Jamaath, for the attack on Monday, European far-right groups and activists began to describe the attacks in specifically religious terms.
Regional branches and sites associated with Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party framed the Sri Lankan bloodshed as an attack “against us Christians,” even though the party officially claims to be open to members of all religions, including Jews and Muslims.
Local party branches in the city of Solingen and eastern Germany lashed out at journalists for initially refraining to establish a link to Islamist terrorism. Some far-right groups claimed hypocrisy and double standards, arguing that attacks on Christians failed to receive the same response as attacks on Muslims.
Social media accounts that appeared to be associated with supporters of far-right groups drew connections to the Christchurch attacks, arguing that shooting sprees at two mosques in New Zealand were condemned as anti-Muslim attacks early on, whereas governments and media outlets were more cautious in the case of Sri Lanka.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Adam Taylor and Rick Noack