The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka said on Monday that the government should crackdown on Islamic extremists with more vigour “as if on war footing” in the aftermath of the Easter bombings. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, said the church may not be able to stop people from taking law into their own hands.
The cardinal said he is not satisfied with the government’s investigations so far and that it must conduct a thorough investigation to prevent further attacks. Urging the government to implement a “proper programme,” he said, “All the security forces should be involved and function as if on war footing. Further, the church assures Muslims that it will not allow any revenge attacks against them,” Ranjith told reporters.
He also said church services would be held coming Sunday after necessary precautions are taken. The number of Masses will be reduced at every church, with police and parish committees entrusted with the task of looking out for strangers.
Churches were shut across the nation on Sunday, a week after the bombings, for fear of an attack by Islamic State group-linked militants. Sri Lanka’s Catholics celebrated Mass in their homes as Ranjith presided over a televised service.
The closing of the churches came after local officials and the U.S. Embassy in Colombo warned that more militants remained on the loose with explosives. Even though all of the island nation’s schools are to reopen on May 6, Ranjith said Catholic schools could be kept closed after that date if the church is not satisfied with the security arrangments.
Meanwhile, the government has banned all kinds of face-veils that conceals people’s identities. The emergency law, which took effect on Monday, prevents Muslim women from veiling their faces. The decision came after the Cabinet had proposed laws on face-veils at a recent meeting. It had deferred the matter until talks with Islamic clerics could be held, on the advice of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.