World Tour: Unrest in Sri Lanka

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Mindy Belz.

MINDY BELZ, SENIOR EDITOR: Unrest in Sri Lanka—We start today in Sri Lanka.

AUDIO: [Sounds of rioters in Sri Lanka]

At least one man died Monday as mobs attacked Muslim communities in the country’s northwest. Government officials say members of the country’s Sinhalese Buddhist majority are responsible for violence that damaged mosques, shops, and homes.

Tension in the country has remained high since the Easter Sunday bombings at three churches and three hotels. The coordinated attacks by Islamic extremists killed more than 250 people, nearly 225 of them Christian worshippers and about half of them children.

In an attempt to quell the escalating violence, the government imposed a nationwide curfew Monday. It also blocked social media and messaging apps.

Catholic priest Prasad Harshana called on Christians to seek peace and pray for their enemies.

HARSHANA: We are going to pray that the Good Lord may not only heal the wounds of our people and console our hearts. May the Good Lord also transform and change the hearts of those terrorists and all those who are involved in this process.

Calling the mob attacks “abhorrent,” the National Christian Evangelical Alliance called on Sri Lankans to, quote—“turn away from violence and work toward de-escalating tensions.”

Asylum-seekers in Hungary—Next we go to Hungary. Officials there face renewed international criticism over their treatment of asylum-seekers.

A United Nations spokeswoman told reporters last week that Hungary is deliberately withholding food from migrants after denying their asylum requests.

SHAMDASANI: According to reports that we have received, since August 2018, at least 21 migrants awaiting deportation were deliberately deprived of food by the Hungarian authorities–for a period of up to five days.

The Hungarian government insists it is not responsible for migrants ordered to leave the country. Some who don’t go voluntarily have been taken across the border and left to fend for themselves.

Rights activists reported seeing Hungarian officials transport two families from Afghanistan into neighboring Serbia late at night. No officials from Serbia received the four adults and seven children, putting them in a tricky legal position.

SHAMDASANI: Now of course the problem with that, is that if they go to Serbia voluntarily, they will then be entering Serbia irregularly, and they will be contravening Serbian law.

Amid the international criticism, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán got a warm welcome in Washington on Monday.

Like President Trump, Orban has maintained a tough stance on migration. Human rights groups accuse him of undermining the basic rule of law and press freedom.

Asia Bibi lawyer defends other Christians—And finally, we end today in Pakistan. The lawyer who successfully defended Christian Asia Bibi against blasphemy charges is now working on behalf of other Christians.

Saiful Malook has taken the case of a young Christian couple also accused of blasphemy. A district court in Punjab sentenced both to death in 2014.

About 40 Pakistanis remain on death row for blasphemy, according to the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom.

That’s this week’s World Tour. For WORLD Radio, I’m Mindy Belz.

(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena) In this Sunday, May 12, 2019, photo, Sri Lankan soldiers stand guard at the entrance to Good Shepherd convent and the St. Benedict’s college in Colombo, Sri Lanka. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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