Another Face of Pakistan :: Pakistan annihilates Christians

In Pakistan, Christians Hit by Islamic “Purity” Programme

Nine dead in one village put to fire and sword. It is the latest in a series of attacks against those whose only fault is that of not being Muslim. To the silence and disinterest of the rest of the world >>
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ROME, August 5, 2009 – They threw stones, burned homes, and pursued  those fleeing, firing wildly. In the end, nine people were dead. Seven of them have the same last name, Hamid, and belong to the same family clan as Fr. Hussein Younis, a Franciscan. They include two children (in the photo by Saqib Khadim, the coffins). Their only fault is that they were Christian.

It took place in Pakistan, in Gojra, in the province of Faisalabad in eastern Punjab. There are 1.3 million Catholics in all of Pakistan, and the same number of Christians of other denominations, out of a population of 160 million, almost entirely Muslim. But the intolerance against this small, poor, peaceful minority has become a fact of life, exploding at times into bloody aggression.

The latest episode was sparked by an innocent marriage celebration among Christians in Koriyan, a little village near Gojra. It was July 30. Interviewed by Lorenzo Cremonesi for “Corriere della Sera” on August 3, Fr. Younis recounts:

“As is customary, at the end of the ceremony in the church the guests tossed flowers, rice, a few coins as tokens of prosperity, and slips of paper with greetings or prayers written on them. The problem is that some Muslims started to claim that the slips of paper were pages torn out of the Qur’an, an extremely serious offense for Islam and even more serious in these times of fanaticism. Very soon insults and accusations were flying, and then stones. A few homes were set on fire in the afternoon. But the more serious violence exploded on the morning of Saturday, August 1, in Gojra, around the Christian neighborhood.

“Our people counted eight buses full of extremists who had come from outside the area. Unfamiliar faces, people armed to the teeth. Their slogan was that we Christians have the same religion as the American soldiers, and therefore we are enemies, we deserve death. First they threw stones, then they sprayed gasoline, and finally came machine gun fire and bombs. Here around me everything is burned, charred. The death toll could have been much worse if the Christians had not fled immediately. My relatives were not fast enough, and they were burned alive, trapped in the flames.”

The bishop of Faisalabad, Joseph Coutts, also interviewed by “Corriere della Sera,” commented as follows:

“It is clear that these pogroms have been organized by groups that, for the purpose of disrupting Pakistan, in addition to Afghanistan, are doing everything they can to sow violence. They have proven this to us with their attacks on major Pakistani cities, and are now moving on to attacks on Christians. The most serious fact is that now they are able to mobilize great crowds of faithful against us. I find this an alarming phenomenon, worse than the isolated bombing attacks on churches that have terrorized Christians since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan in 2001.”

The bishop recalls at least four anti-Christian pogroms that have seen the mobilization of large masses of demonstrators ready to use violence: “The first time in recent years was in 1997, in the village of Shanti Nagar. Eight years later, the attack was repeated in the town of Sangla Hill. Last June 30, there was one in the village of Bahmani Wala, in the region of Kasur, not far from here. And now in Koriyan and Gojra, they have set fire to dozens of homes.”

The pretext for the violence and persecution is almost always law 295, which in the name of sharia stipulates extremely harsh punishments, even life in prison, for those who offend the Qur’an or Mohammed. “The problem is that this law is used in a completely arbitrary way. Often the word of a Muslim citizen is enough to have a Christian put in prison without any concrete proof,” Bishop Coutts continues. The latest trial concluded last April 17 in Lahore, with the acquittal of two elderly Christians, James and Buta Masih. The two innocent men had spent more than two years in prison. It has been calculated that since 1986, the accusation has been used against 982 Christians. 25 of these were killed by Muslim fanatics.

After the latest massacre, the prime minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, appointed a committee of inquiry and announced compensation of 500,000 rupees, a little more than 4,000 euros, for the relatives of the victims.

Last July 6, compensation of 20,000 rupees was given to each of the 57 families whose homes were destroyed in the anti-Christian pogrom on June 30 in Bahmani Wala. The payment was given in the presence of three Catholic priests and other Christian leaders, in front of the village church used by the various confessions.

Before this, the Catholic Church had also suffered damage as a result of the suicide attack on May 27 against a police building in Lahore. The building was entirely destroyed, with 35 killed. But four of the adjacent buildings were also partially collapsed: the bookstore of the Daughters of St. Paul, and three Catholic junior high schools.

In March of 2008, the cathedral of Lahore was also damaged by the bombing of a nearby government building.

For three days after the latest pogrom, all of the Catholic schools of Pakistan were closed as a sign of mourning.

The bishops and the apostolic nuncio Adolfo Tito Yllana have repeatedly asked the Pakistani authorities to act in defense of the assaulted religious minorities. Their conviction is that a genuine martyrdom is taking place, with the Christians chosen as “scapegoats” by the hatred of Muslim fanatics. Similar pogroms in Pakistan have also targeted an Islamic branch banned as “heretical,” which numbers about three million followers, the Ahmadi.

In a telegram sent on August 3 to the bishop of Faisalabad, Joseph Coutts, and signed by the Vatican secretary of state, Benedict XVI expressed his sadness over “the senseless attack on the Christian community of Gojra City,” with the “tragic killing of innocent men, women and children.” And he appealed to the Christians of Pakistan not to give up the effort to “build a society which, with a profound sense of trust in religious and human values, is marked by mutual respect among all its members.”

In an interview with Vatican Radio, the nuncio in Pakistan said he had been “comforted by the words of forgiveness from a Christian whose home had been burned, and said: ‘Let us hope only that God gives them the light to see the right way’.”

The nuncio commented: “This is more powerful than any homily that I could give. Here there is the Christian spirit that always reigns among these suffering people.”

Courtsey : www.faithfreedom.org

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One Response to “Another Face of Pakistan :: Pakistan annihilates Christians”

  1. mijanurn rahaman Says:

    The persecution of religious minorities is not new in Pakistan. This is Pakistani Tradition. We may read this report published earlier.

    Letters from Tokyo
    Pakistan and the Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslims and Christians
    By Lee Jay Walker
    Tokyo Correspondent

    Dr. Abdul Mannan Siddiqui is seen at Jalsa Salana Qadian 2005. the regional president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Mirpurkhas, Sindh, Pakistan was killed on Sept. 12, 2008 at around 2.30pm Pakistani time. Dr. Siddiqi was both a most eminent member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and also a renowned physician.

    In the land of Pakistan hatred continues to grow in many parts of this nation. This hatred, inspired and ignited by Sunni Islamic extremists, is directed against all moderates and all faiths. To make matters worse the institutions inside Pakistan, notably the government, judiciary, and police, is also part of the problem and internal security services are divided. Therefore, Pakistan is either unwilling or unable to stop the flow of radical Sunni Islam and nations like Afghanistan and India are bearing the brunt of this failed nation state. Also, the internal situation in Pakistan is out of control in parts of this nation. So how can this nation be trusted when so many failures are taking place?

    After all, within Pakistan you have many minorities who reside in fear because of the ongoing violence directed against them. This applies to radical Sunni Islamic extremists who are killing and persecuting Ahmadiyya Muslims, Shia Muslims, Christians, and other minorities. Even moderates within the Sunni Muslim community face persecution because the madness of radical Sunni Islam appears to be out of control. If this hatred is not challenged, then Pakistan faces a bleak future and regional nations will suffer via terrorism, indoctrination, and agitation.

    If we focus on Ahmadiyya Muslims, then it is clear that these Muslims only want liberty, freedom, and the right to live in peace. However, even Ahmadi doctors face persecution despite these doctors loving humanity. After all, Ahmadi doctors merely want to help all people, irrespective if Sunni Muslim, Christian, Shia Muslim, or a member of another faith or a person of no faith. Yet to extremists, mainly in the Sunni Islamic camp, they are deemed to be “infidels” and worthy of killing.

    This is clearly happening because since 1982 you have had 15 brutal murders of Ahmadi doctors in Pakistan. The most recent murder happened on September 8, 2008, when Dr Abdul Mannan Siddiqi was killed. Therefore, a man of peace and a highly respected individual who helped the poor and all people who needed help, was killed in the name of radical Islam. This hatred is sadly growing and all minorities reside in fear and more alarmingly, to the haters of humanity, their list of so-called infidels appears to be growing.

    Abid Khan, a representative of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, stated that “The murder of Dr Abdul Mannan Siddiqi is a grave tragedy. He was a true servant of mankind and lived his life according to the Ahmadiyya motto, ‘Love for All, Hatred for None.’ His death was simply due to his being a peace loving member of the Ahmadiyya Community.” Yet this man of humanity was deemed to be an infidel and “the forces of evil,” the very same forces of evil who massacred hundreds in Mumbai, India, in 2008; appear to be growing in power and influence in Pakistan.

    Also, it is not only radical Islamists that minorities fear, but the Pakistan government itself and the judicial system which is openly biased. This applies to the blasphemy law, and other laws which infringe on the rights of equality. Yet of major concern is the blasphemy law because all non-Sunni Muslim minorities fear this law and the same applies to liberal Sunni Muslims who face the same consequences. For blasphemy in Pakistan is punishable by death and Sunni Muslims can use this law in order to persecute minorities and liberals within the Sunni community.

    Overall, in modern day Pakistan you have frequent cases of Sunni Muslims raping Christian women and then converting these Christian women to Islam. For Christian parents, it is one long nightmare because regional police forces and the judiciary are obviously biased. All too often these Christian girls are denied equal rights and the courts deem their conversion to Islam to be final, despite the seriousness of their respective ordeals. Therefore, rape and liberty is “thrown out of the window” and instead Islamization is the winner.

    I remember writing about the same issue many years ago after the brutal death of a brave Muslim cleric called Mohammed Yousaf Ali. For in 2002 this brave Muslim cleric spoke out against discrimination and he condemned religious Islamic extremism. This brave cleric called Mohammed Yousaf Ali was therefore a threat to Islamic militants, for he happened to care for people from all faiths and in the eyes of Islamic extremists he was no longer a Muslim. Therefore, Mohammed Yousaf Ali made many enemies and for this he was murdered.

    To make matters worse, this brave Muslim cleric was not only killed by an Islamic zealot, but he was also condemned by the judiciary of Pakistan and, more worryingly, by the government of Pakistan which allows people to be put in prison on the grounds of blasphemy. This means that Mohammed Yousaf Ali was murdered collectively by the judiciary who put him in prison, by the Islamic zealot who killed him, and by the government of Pakistan which allows blasphemy to be a criminal offence.

    The gunman who murdered Mohammed Yousaf Ali showed no remorse, on the contrary, he believed that this was legal and part and parcel of the teachings of Islam. For the alleged killer, Tariq Mota, stated that “I now feel spiritually satisfied. It is the responsibility of every Muslim to kill these infidels.” Therefore, this hatred is not only deep but it is based on the Hadiths and Islamic Sharia Law which clearly supports the theory of killing apostates. This fact can be seen clearly in Saudi Arabia where leaving Islam equals the death penalty. So this issue is not just about Islamic extremists, but it is about aspects of Islam itself.

    Yet six years later, moving from 2002 to 2008, and we still see the same hatred. Therefore, Pakistan must be sternly rebuked and the international community needs to wake-up! Also, militancy within this nation is being exported to Afghanistan and India, and much further. After all, the terrorist attack in London was done via the behest of radical Sunni Muslims within the Pakistani community in the United Kingdom.

    Therefore, how much longer do Ahmadiyya Muslims have to wait before they have equality? Also, why should Christians, women, Shia Muslims, liberal Sunni Muslims, Hindus, and others, reside in fear? Surely this nation needs to be challenged verbally and these crimes should not be hidden from readers. Instead people like Mohammed Yousaf Ali should be remembered for speaking out against hatred, if not, the only winners in modern day Pakistan will be Islamic zealots and criminals who are abusing women. Surely this situation needs to be changed and quickly, but does the international community care?

    Lee Jay Walker Dip BA MA
    lee_jay_teach@hotmail.co.uk

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