Pakistan: local Muslim leaders apologize for anti-Christian rampage

Passing Gojra

Gojra. Image by Dr EG via Flickr

The culprits of the massacre were acquitted, but two imams have apologized about it. The say that the attackers are misunderstanders of Islam, but what they don’t add is the reason why they were actually acquitted.

Two years after a mob of 1,000 Muslims attacked Christians in the northeastern Pakistani city of Gojra, leaders of a local madrassa and mosque have apologized and asked for pardon.

“Even though they weren’t in any way involved in what happened that day,” the two Muslim leaders “gave a full apology for what happened,” said Father Aftab James Paul, an official of the Diocese of Faisalabad. “They said that Islam as a religion does not condone killing. They went on to say that those responsible did not understand the spirit of Islam, and they condemned their actions.”

via Catholic Culture : Latest Headlines : Pakistan: local Muslim leaders apologize for anti-Christian rampage.

Pakistan: Court Acquits 70 Muslim Radicals of Burning 8 Christians Alive during 2009 Gojra Massacre

Pakistan’s fundamentalists are rejoicing following the acquittal verdict. The country’s Christian minority is “under shock” because, this time as well, the massacre of innocent victims done in the name of the infamous blasphemy law will go unpunished. The justice system also shows its powerlessness vis-à-vis extremists who can carry out heinous crimes with total impunity, whilst the government remains silent. Meanwhile, a Muslim religious leader publicly says that Christians “deserve” to be murdered.Burning

A Pakistani anti-terrorism court acquitted 70 people who, in various roles, were involved in the Gojra massacre of August 2009 (see Fareed Khan, “Eight Christians burned alive in Punjab,” in AsiaNews, 2 August 2009). The anti-Christian violence broke out following blasphemy allegations. During a wedding, a group of Christians supposedly burnt pages of the Qur‘an, a pretext used to strike at the religious minority.

More here.

Background: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Pakistani Christians protest violence**

Pakistani Christians in New York demonstrated in front of the United Nations against the recent anti-Christian violence in Pakistan in which seven died (Related: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Protest leaders Wednesday condemned last week’s violence in Gojra district in the Punjab Province in which a Muslim mob, irate over alleged desecration of the Koran, attacked a Christian neighborhood. The Christians have denied the allegations.

(…) In a memorandum to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the protesters representing the Pakistan Christian Association in North America and the Christian Community in New York called for greater security for Christians and the release of those detained under the blasphemy law.

Back in May they protested in the Netherlands other episodes of violence:

Pakistani Christians protest in Holland May 2009

Pakistani Christians protest in the Netherlands May 2009

Don’t have much hope in the UN

*Petition calling for End of Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan.

*More here:

Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad, told Aid to the Church in Need that this was a rare opportunity for the Pakistani government to introduce changes into the law. (…) However, he added, changing the law is not enough.  “We need a radical change of attitudes so that people no longer emotionally react when they feel their religion is not being respected.”  “What we have seen in recent days could lead people to think differently,” he said.

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Pakistan: PM announces possible changes in blasphemy law

Pakistan’s prime minister pledged Thursday to review laws that may be sharpening tension among the country’s religious communities, days after a Muslim mob burned houses in rioting that killed eight Christians.

The killings Saturday in the eastern city of Gojra came amid concerns that rising extremist Islam has deepened the vulnerability of Pakistan’s minorities.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani’s announcement suggested that the government may seek to change Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which can carry the death penalty for those convicted of insulting Islam, the prophet Muhammad or the Koran.

They really should do it… although I doubt they will. This is just a way to distract criticism now…

The Turk President of OIC has condemned the Malatya killings, another killings based on Christianophobia, although this time on Turkey:

According to Ihsanoglu, who is himself a Turk, the “savage murders” in Malatya, even if they are “an internal question” for Turkey, he felt obliges to intervene given that “the authors of the murders linked them to Islam”. Islam affirms a statement released by the secretary on behalf of the 57 countries who comprise the Organization, “is a religion of peace, tolerance and coexistence – above all between members of Islam, Christianity and Judaism – which forbids the gratuitous murder of human beings”. Moreover the OIC will continue in its efforts to “promote a culture of diversity and to help support a politics of peace, dialogue, modernization and tolerance”.

I don’t trust this guy at all:

Ihsanoglu warned against using freedom of expression to offend Islam

Hmm… not at all:

In 2007, the Secretary General of the OIC, Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a “moderate” Muslim from Turkey, used the “International Day of Tolerance” to assert that freedom of speech is defiling Islam. He stated, “[M]uslims around the world are the first victims of intolerance. They are facing a campaign of hatred and prejudice, what is otherwise known as Islamophobia. This growing trend of Islamophobia has subjected them to discrimination including religious profiling and stereotyping. The right to freedom of speech is being used to defile the sacred symbols of Islam.”

He continued, “[I]t is high time that the international community considers enacting legal measures against defamation of religions and religious beliefs. I would urge the Alliance of Civilizations and the Human Rights Council to take pro-active action in this regard.”

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (“IHEU”) warned that UN approval of a law combating defamation of religions would have grave implications for the freedom to criticize a religion or its practices. It explained that countries will have broad latitude in how they penalize the disrespect of religion because OIC’s resolution did not define what constitutes “defamation.” Further, the resolution failed to distinguish between defamation of religion and incitement to racial and religious violence.

But the mistreatment of Christians has been so grave here, that he should say something. Only I don’t really believe that coming from someone who supports the punishment of the defamation of religions is really able to critizise violence, specially when precisely the root cause of the violence and mistreatment of Christians and other minorities is the so-called “Blasphemy Law”.

Related: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

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Pakistan: Islamists ask for Christians to be hanged on false blasphemy charges

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that several Muslim groups met in Gojra, Pakistan, today to hold a press conference calling on the government to exonerate religious leaders accused of inciting the anti-Christian attacks that occurred this past weekend. In addition, they threatened to hang the Christian whose alleged blasphemy sparked the violence (what is more: blasphemy which was FALSE).

Muslim groups Jamiyat Islami Gojra (a religious group) and Anjman-e-Tajran (a trade union) initially condemned last weekend’s violence in their statements. However, they quickly reversed course by calling for the release of Ulma and the other clerics named in the official police report. They further contradicted their initial statement by threatening to hang Talib Masih and others accused of blasphemy in the Gojra bazaar if the government had not arrested him by August 10 (that is called BLACKMAIL).

This press conference is a sign that the government has not restored rule of law in this area, and is risking another outbreak of violence by its delay in responding adequately to the situation.

Related: 1, 2, 3, 4.

But nothing happens. The world is silent. Why bother about some Christians in Pakistan? Meanwhile, Zardari is worried about “jokes mocking him”.

Shameful. Absolutely shameful.

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Pakistan: “Attacks on Christians were premeditated”, says Archbishop Saldanha

We must defend ourselves” from “premeditated” attacks against Pakistan’s Christian minority. For this reason it is necessary “to keep a low profile” and avoid giving fundamentalists “any more pretexts” to carry out violence on confessional grounds, said Mgr John Lawrence Saldanha, the archbishop of Lahore, about anti-Christian attacks in Gojra and the village of Korian, in Punjab (There are no pretexts, no reasons for this, Mgr. They attack Christians because they are Christians…) .

“The Christian community suffered two premeditated attacks,” Archbishop Saldanha. “The first one, on 30 July, fortunately produced no victims. But on 1 August, people were not prepared to confront the onslaught and some died.”

About “seven people died, six from the same family,” the prelate added. But the number of casualties could rise.

He also pointed to the root cause: religious intolerance in Pakistan. Yep, I agree: and the symbol of that intolerance is the Blasphemy Law. If you believe in other God, you would say Allah is not god… soooooo you’re a blasphemous infidel. Note that they didn’t even took these Christians before a magistrate, they just took injustice in their own hands. It’s not only the Islamists‘ fault: that law give them the pretext to attack as it’s right to prosecute an infidel. This is confirmed by the police not stopping the carnage.

Poligazette writes that “If you’re a young fundamentalist thinking of setting out to kill some Christians or Hindus or Hare Krishnas over the alleged desecration of a book, at least have the presence of mind to establish their guilt before torching their home and butchering them as they flee“. The problem is that it seems they wanted a pretext, an excuse to attack, with the complicit participation of authorities who did nothing to stop the violence.

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Pakistan: an investigation will be opened on Muslim riots

An update on this story: Pakistan: Police patrol streets after Christians murdered – CNN.com

Security forces patrolled the streets of the eastern Pakistan city of Gojra on Sunday, one day after seven people were killed and 20 injured when Muslim demonstrators set fire to houses in a Christian enclave and fighting broke out (a fighting?? Christians had to flee for their lifes to a near-by forest from where they saw their houses being burnt…), authorities said.

(…)

There was a demonstration by about a thousand Christians who refused to bury their dead until the government registered a criminal case against those they alleged to have carried out the attacks.

The government would register a criminal case, Sana Ullah said. Registering a case means a criminal investigation will be opened. Sana Ullah added that the government strongly condemned the incident. He said the attack was not a sectarian issue, but rather terrorism. He blamed the incident on attackers with ties to militants in Northwest Pakistan, where the government is carrying out an offensive against Taliban groups.

At least 8 Christians (among others, women and children) were burnt alive.

Suheil Johnson, member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan: if the country really wants to end with all anti-Christian violence here, they should abrogate the blasphemy law, because it is, in the end, legitimizing the violence against those who are accused of insulting Islam. Even the ulemas, the imams, at the prayer hour, have called the masses to go and get the Christians.

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