WELLINGTON, Fla. — As the world waits to learn more about who exactly is behind the bombings in Sri Lanka, people who live in South Florida with connections to the country are speaking out. They say this isn’t just an attack on their homeland, but on their religion too.
“I’m like, 'Wow,' it’s hard to comprehend that. It’s just crazy,” said Heshan Demel.
Demel was born in Sri Lanka but has lived in the United States for several decades. He and other Floridians were stunned when they woke up to the learn what happened on Easter Sunday.
“My husband, he was frantically trying to reach me,” said Shiro Horshington.
Horshington and her husband are also from Sri Lanka. They have lived in Wellington for more than 14 years but travel back to their birth country often.
However, this Easter she stayed home in Florida while her husband went back to celebrate the holiday with family. She says her phone was silent Saturday night when her husband started to text her about what happened.
“It is sad as a Christian,” said Horshington.
Horshington says Christianity isn’t the most common religion in the country. However, in the capital of Colombo, four sites were targeted in a popular spot for Christians to live, worship and gather.
“It’s just very sad that this happened. I’m still trying to figure out why,” said Demel.
Several Sri Lankans here in South Florida say it’s become a little bit more difficult to contact friends and family members after the Sri Lankan government temporarily blocked social media. The government says it’s in an effort to prevent misinformation from circulating.
“They temporarily banned WhatsApp, Viber and some of the main social media platforms, which they have done before,” said Demel.
Both Demel and Horshington say they are praying for those affected by this tragedy and they refuse to let this horrific act prevent them from traveling back to Sri Lanka.
“It has been a safe country for the last 10 years, so this one thing is not going to prevent, hopefully not prevent others from going,” said Horshington.
One of the bombings occurred at St. Anthony’s Shrine, which Horshington says is a national landmark.
“It’s a Catholic church where non-Christians go, there are Hindus, Buddhists. They all go there because it’s known they go and pray there and that God answers prayers,” said Horshington.