On Sunday, a series of bomb attacks struck churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. As of now, the death toll is at 290, while hundreds of innocent civilians were critically injured. First news of the attack came in as churches in minority Christian communities in Sri Lanka's Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo were struck during the busy Easter celebrations.
While the rest of the world celebrated the resurrection of Jesus, devastating images of bloody church walls and weeping innocents flooded social media.
According to reports, this is the worst attack to have ripped through Sri Lanka in the past decade, especially after the end of the civil war.
Out of all the images that have been widely circulated online, there is one particular image that has almost gained symbolic status. It is an image of the statue of Jesus, stained with blood, in the aftermath of the blast. The image is from St. Sebastian's Church, Negombo, which was one of the first places to have been hit.
Easter, for Christians is representative of hope. It marks the resurrection of Jesus, exactly three days after he was crucified by the Romans in 30 A.D. In other words, Easter is a day of hope, of peace and most importantly, of faith. The terror group which carried out this brutal attack clearly had one agenda in mind - to rip out faith and hope from the hearts of innocent Christians, and replace it with fear, to mar the tranquility of Easter celebrations and stain it with violence.
But did they succeed?
The image of the blood-splattered statue of Jesus is a haunting one - yet, it has emerged as symbolic of the violence and the savagery that resides deep within man's heart. The brutality and bestiality which man harbors surfaced during Jesus's crucifixion. It raised its ugly head again this time when hundreds of innocent individuals became its victim.
Children and adults. Foreigners and natives. This photo, in a way, becomes symbolic of the attempts of the terror group to divide a country and sow terror in the minds of people, many of whom are still nursing scars from the memories of violence from a decade ago. The blasts were the final blow to a country that had had barely started to recover from the ravages of a decades-long insurgency that had only recently given way to peace.
Yes, hatred and violence may surface from time to time, only to wreak havoc, but love and kindness do take precedence. Thousands around the world have offered their two cents on the incident - be it on social or legacy media. And the unity in these messages is a startling reminder that irrespective of the terror that follows such an incident, hope prevails.
The image of the bloodied Jesus with a blood-spattered wall acting as cyclorama, is a symbol of a country that is bleeding, of a country that had only just begun to come to terms with its history when it was dealt a devastating blow. But, could it also stand for strength in the face of crippling terror? After all, Easter stands for the resurrection of Christ. From the physical and emotional debris of the violence, let there emerge a country that is united and stronger than ever in the face of terror.