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Pastors and worshippers assaulted and threatened in Sri Lanka

Breaking News South Asia

Pastors and worshippers assaulted and threatened in Sri Lanka

Young Sri Lankan worshippers. Photo credit: Facebook page of Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka

Christians have been targetted in three recent incidents of persecution in Sri Lanka, according to the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka.

In Batticaloa, eastern Sri Lanka, around 7:40 am on 21 October soon after the Sunday service had started, three people forced their way into a church demanding the pastor leave the service to speak to them outside.

When an elderly female member of the congregation, owner of the building in which the church meets, went to speak with them they shouted at her and attempted to assault her. The pastor intervened and was struck. The attackers left when the pastor said he would call the police.

In another confrontation, a leader of a church in Passara, central Sri Lanka, faced angry villagers at a community hall on 20 October, where they called for local officials to stop the construction of a church building. In a rare move, the local official supported the pastor, telling villagers that it was his right to worship.

On 15 October, church leaders in Bulathkohupitiya, around 40 miles east of Colombo, were summoned to the local police station after two Buddhist monks made false accusations against a pastor. They demanded he stop holding church services and a local government official supported their calls for an end to Christian worship. The pastor refused to give in to their demands and the police recording officer convened a meeting for a later date. At the time of writing, it is not known whether the church has been ordered to halt services, or if any charges have been made against the pastor.

Christians make up eight percent of the population of Sri Lanka, but face frequent persecution and local opposition, which is often led by Buddhist monks. Christians have also been attacked in the north-east of Sri Lanka where there is a Hindu majority. Opposition to church meetings is often justified by a false, but widely believed, perception that churches in Sri Lanka are legally required to register to hold services.