Just as society was grappling with how they felt about the Notre Dame accident and which side we all fell when it came to pledge extortionate amounts of money to rebuild it, Sri Lanka happened.
A calculated symmetrical trinity where three churches and three hotels were bombed killing over three hundred and fifty people, injuring hundreds maybe nearly a thousand more and crushing our faith in the presence of a greater good in each us. Instead it is the case that are people living, studying, working among us today that will in go on in the future to bring terror, hate and fear to the world by targeting and killing a random group and finally killing themselves.
Apparently, the homework was done long before the Christchurch attack and Easter Sunday, being the most symbolic Catholic celebration was agreed to be the most effective day to deliver such devastation. Truth is, carried out on any day, in any week, in any country, place of worship, shopping mall, hotel, housing complex, it would have been as bad. Suffice to say that the carrying it out on Easter Sunday, galvanising the hate, cements the intention and makes reform seem highly unlikely.
All seven of the suicide bombers were Sri Lankan citizens and it is reported that there were forewarnings of the attacks.
Online media has been highlighted that Notre Dame has been googled seven times more often than Sri Lanka. Not totally unexpected as the Notre Dame cathedral is recognised worldwide as a monument of significant architectural relevance, everybody feels they own a piece of it. Sri Lanka however, for many, is considered, far away. Christchurch is far away too, admittedly, but that attack, carried out by a white supremacist on a mosque during Friday prayer together with the amazing reaction of their prime minister constituted a good news story. A good news story is decided by what the audience find interesting or important. It should be relatable, it should strike a chord, have a unique angle, unfortunately, this is where Sri Lanka falls short because, there it doesn’t have a unique angle, all this has happened before, in Kenya, Morocco, Australia, Egypt, Iran, Netherlands, Jordan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Belgium, Indonesia, France, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, Spain, London, Germany, and so on. Likely the reason that our own Leo Varadkar, hasn’t make a formal comment, apology or statement on the six bombings, three of which were in Catholic Churches. Sri Lanka Easter bombings will fade by the day and are soon to resigned to history.
As terrorism has slowly become accepted as part of our norm, we have adjusted the goalposts to accommodate it and then we arrive at a sad day like Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka and unfortunately there are large chunks of the world where this devastation is passing by unremarkably. Three hundred and fifty people killed by seven people and all in the name of the terror a shocking epidemic and no signs of it to stop or an effective antibody.
The Emir, Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani expressed strong condemnation of the horrific crime, stressing Qatar’s firm rejection of violence and terrorism. News of Sri Lanka has hit Qatar harder that other atrocities. There are one hundred and fifty thousand Sri Lankan people living in Qatar, over 5% of the Qatar’s total population. Every year thousands of expats from Qatar take the opportunity to visit the east and set their sights on Sri Lanka, Thailand and the like for holidays, staying at hotels such as the Shangri la, perhaps going to mass in Colombo to mark Easter Sunday so for us here in Qatar, the bombings feel closer to home than comfortable.
Is that the upshot? Are we all just concerned when terrorism creeps a little nearer to threatening ourselves. Are the only devastations worthy of our serious attention those with new appeal. Surely as attack after attack brings acceptance after acceptance, surely there will come to time to stand and fight, but fight who – a suicide bomber? If feels pointless. It is sad. It is a reality that Three Hundred and Fifty people dying is not a sensation anymore.