Former President Barack Obama and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton are under fire from conservative commentators for calling the victims of Sunday's Sri Lanka bombings "Easter worshippers” in offering their condolences.
Obama tweeted on Sunday, "The attacks on tourists and Easter worshippers in Sri Lanka are an attack on humanity. On a day devoted to love, redemption, and renewal, we pray for the victims and stand with the people of Sri Lanka." Laura Ingraham responded by writing, "Christians. We don’t worship Easter. We worship Jesus Christ."
Fox News host Jesse Watters tweeted a short segment on "The Five" on the topic, captioning it, "Easter Worshippers? This is a made up phrase. Why do liberals make up phrases like this?" Watters accused liberals of "pandering to Muslims" because they are afraid that "their own rhetoric causes Islamophobia."
“Fox and Friends” discussed Sunday’s horrific terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka on Monday morning, framing the attacks, three of which hit churches on Easter Sunday, in the terms of a “holy war.”
Co-host Pete Hegseth said, "This hasn't stopped, isn’t stopping, you’re seeing desecration of religious sites and attacks in Europe. You’ve seen it in the Middle East, Christian churches, Christians, Jews targeted directly, and it’s radical islamists. You got to get at the ideology and then you got to find them and get rid of them too.”
"In a world of the internet, with the global Islamist movement, any church could be a target. Any minority group could be a target," Hegseth added. Co-host Steve Doocy concluded saying, “It is literally a holy war.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday blamed “a horrific wave of Islamic radical terror” for the deadly bombings and added the U.S. will have to remain “vigilant” in fighting this “evil.”
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“What was supposed to be a joyful Easter Sunday was marred by a horrific wave of Islamic radical terror and bloodshed,” Pompeo said at a news conference at the State Department.
“But sadly, this evil exists in the world and the United States and all of its partners that are cooperating in the de-ISIS campaign, some 80 countries, and other nations too that are assisting us in defeating this terrorism around the world, we have to remain active and vigilant and it’s going to require attention. There is no doubt about that,” Pompeo added.
Trump tweeted sympathies for Sri Lanka early Sunday morning, but with one major mistake. "Heartfelt condolences from the people of the United States to the people of Sri Lanka on the horrible terrorist attacks on churches and hotels that have killed at least 138 million people and badly injured 600 more. We stand ready to help," the president said.
Trump later deleted the tweet and posted a corrected version with the 138 figure, which is now close to 300, corrected.
Trump pledged American support to Sri Lanka in bringing the perpetrators of the coordinated bombing attack "to justice" during a call with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, a White House spokesman said on Monday.
Sri Lanka's president has given the military sweeping war-time powers to arrest and detain suspects following a series of Easter Sunday bombings that killed at least 290 people.
President Maithripala Sirisena's office announced late Monday that the measure would take effect at midnight. In addition, a government curfew was to begin at 8 p.m.
On Monday, armed security personnel stood guard on street corners in central Colombo that were largely deserted, with most shops closed.
Provisions that granted police powers to the military had been withdrawn at the end of Sri Lanka's civil war, which ended in 2009.
Sri Lanka's minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels, while another 28 were wounded.
John Amaratunga says his ministry is working closely with the ministry of foreign affairs and local diplomatic missions to "ensure formalities with regard to the victims are sorted out as quickly as possible."
In Monday's statement he added, "The government has already offered assistance to all victims, the damaged places of worship as well as the hotels affected by Sunday's attacks."
He said Sri Lanka's tourism industry and the government was doing everything possible to ensure the safety of those in the country.
A total of nine bombings Sunday killed at least 290 people and wounded about 500 more.
Pope Francis is asking everyone to join him in condemning the "inhuman" Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka.
Greeting faithful in St. Peter's Square on Monday, Francis also invited prayers for the victims of the attacks, including at least 290 dead and some 500 wounded.
The pope said, "I hope everyone condemns these inhuman and never justified terrorist acts."
Expressing his fraternal closeness to the people of Sri Lanka, Francis encouraged people not to hesitate to offer all necessary assistance in the wake of the nine bombings, which devastated three churches during Easter services and three hotels filled with tourists.
A day earlier, after celebrating Easter Mass in the square, Francis had expressed his sorrow and dismay over the attacks.