ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s leaders called for peace and tolerance at Christmas as the country tries to leave behind decades of ethnic strife and simmering nationalism.
"Today, we live in a society that seeks freedom from tyranny and injustice, stigma and
Prejudice," Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a Christmas messge.
"One in which people will be free from religious and ethnic strife, able to live
together in harmony and a spirit of tolerance."
"The Holy Bible tells us that good trees bear good fruit; an outpouring of goodness in our
hearts can help us find the good in others."
President Maithripala Sirisena at a ceremony at President’s residence earlier in the week also called for reconciliation and togetherness.
"The dawn of Christmas is a time for everyone to move with renewed determination towards national reconciliation," President Sirisena said.
Sri Lanka is looking forward to peace and reconciliation after a 30-year civil war which ended in 2009.
Sri Lanka was hit by East European-style nationalism in the latter years of 19 century, with the rise of mass media and the popular vote, with liberal human values taking a back seat.
Tools such as birth certificates, visas, passports and citizenship laws as well as parliaments themselves inherited from the West made it easy for nationalists to identify and target minorities in newly set up post-feudal nation-states, unlike in earlier ages.
Sri Lanka stopped naturalization in a glaringly nationalist move after independence ending thousands of years of immigration and integration.
Sri Lanka’s leaders call comes as nationalist hate is on the rise around the world and minorities and immigrants are under fire.
Pope Francis in his Christmas eve mass Sunday urged the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics not to ignore the plight of migrants who are "driven from their land" because of leaders willing to shed "innocent blood".
"So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary," the Pope Francis, leader of 1.3 billion Catholics, himself the grandson of Italian migrants to Argentina, told worshippers in Saint Peter’s Basilica the Vatican.
"We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away but, driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones."