Prince Charles meets families of terror attack victims on visit to Manor Park Tamil church
PUBLISHED: 16:00 21 December 2019
The Prince of Wales said that "compassion and community will always prevail" during a visit to a Tamil Christian church in Manor Park.
Prince Charles told the congregation the terrorist atrocities in Sri Lanka, which claimed the lives of more than 250 people when churches and hotels were targeted in April, were "an assault on religious freedom everywhere".
Among the worshippers at the Emmanuel Christian Fellowship, in High Street North, were those who lost family and friends in the attacks.
He expressed his solidarity with the worshippers during an advent service on Wednesday, December 18 and said: "I've come here to stand with this community in remembrance of all those who were killed or whose lives were changed forever in the utterly barbaric attack on churches in Sri Lanka this past Easter day.
"There are no words that can heal the wounds that you and your fellow Christians have endured, but I did so want you all to know just how much I, and so many people in this country, mind about what you've suffered and how much we have been thinking of you all."
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A collection was made for one of the bombed churches during the service, and in an adjoining church hall Charles was later shown static displays of the religious sites targeted, which included some pictures of the victims.
Many of those killed were Sri Lankan but there were a number of foreign nationals, including from India, America and Britain.
With a cup of tea in his hand, Prince Charles chatted to Kamiston Jogathilaraja, 27, originally from Sri Lanka but now living in nearby East Ham, who lost six members of his wider family and four friends in the bombing of Saint Anthony's Shrine.
Mr Jogathilaraja said: "Jesus told us to forgive those who do wrong to you and show the other cheek, but even though we did it and are Christians, sometimes it's hard - because we are human - just to forgive."
Speaking about a cousin killed in the bombing, he added: "Every time I see my cousin's wife, whose got a three-month-old baby, crying in front of my cousin's picture it's very hard - but at the end of the day we are forgiving, we are just moving on as a nation."
Before leaving, the prince unveiled a plaque to mark his visit and went on a brief walkabout, meeting a small group of well-wishers who had gathered outside.