Jewish leaders condemn Sri Lanka bombings

The death toll in the Sri Lanka bomb attacks has risen to almost 300. Photo: Getty Images

JEWISH communal leaders in Australia have condemned the Sri Lanka bomb attacks on Sunday, which left at least 290 people dead and more than 500 injured.

Two Australians are among the dead after suicide bombers targeted a number of Catholic churches and hotels frequented by western tourists on Easter Sunday.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of the innocent civilians who were killed by the terrorists,” the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) said in a statement.

“Easter is the most important of Christian holidays, a time when churches are attended by large numbers of worshippers. There can be little doubt that Christians were a primary target.”

ECAJ said the scale of the attacks, and their close sequencing, indicates “both the malevolence of those responsible and their high level of planning, organisation and co-ordination”.

“Although the Sri Lankan government has now attributed responsibility for the attacks to a little-known Islamist extremist group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath, it is entirely possible that other Islamist terrorist organisations were involved in the atrocity.”

Describing the attacks as “a shocking manifestation of immense evil”, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council said, “We hope that the unimaginable suffering of the Sri Lankan Christian community, with so many having had their lives stolen from them and many more suffering physical injuries and immense psychological pain, is eased to some degree by the knowledge that they are in the thoughts and hearts of so many others all around the world.”

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff and acting president Isabelle Shapiro said, “We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Sri Lanka and with all who have lost loved ones in this terrible atrocity and in condemning this horrendous act of bigotry, hatred and cruelty.”

Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich said the attacks were a reminder that “no-one is safe until the evil of terrorism and extremism is defeated”.

“It is our hope that those who aided in the planning and in the carrying out of this sickening assault are apprehended and brought to justice,” Abramovich said.

The Rabbinic Council of Australian, New Zealand and Asian Progressive Rabbis said it was “horrified” by the attacks.

“All people of faith, indeed all humanity, are connected one to another, and this attack is an attack on all of us,” the rabbinic council said in a statement.

“Our hearts turn to the families of those who were killed, and our prayers of healing to all who were injured. We stand with people of all faiths (and no faith) in condemnation of such murderous violence.”

In a statement, the Australian Council of Christians and Jews said, “We express our deepest solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka who have survived years of civil strife and division in their attempt to embrace the multicultural and multi-faith reality of their society, and hope that this violence will bring the nation together in mourning and confirmation of our common humanity.”