08/13/2007, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Christians targeted: or conversion to Islam or suicide attacks

Qaiser Felix
The Christian community of Peshawar has received anonymous letters, demanding they convert to Islam under the threat of suicide attacks. The episode is denounced by a deputy from the National Assembly. Similar threats are made in Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Christian families in Peshawar are living in great fear after receiving anonymous letters threatening suicide attacks if they did not convert to Islam. The episode was reported by Pervez Masih - a minority Member of National Assembly (MNA) – who denounced the event August 10th last, during the assembly session of the Pakistan Parliament.

Giving details, he said the hand-written letter entitled “knock of the death”, was full of slogans in favour of Islam and a Jihad and against non-Muslims and America.  The MNA then read out the contents of the letter for the Assembly, “All of you are being invited to quit Christianity and become Muslim to save a place in the heaven. Otherwise, by the next Friday (August 10) your colony will be destroyed and you will be responsible for the loss of life and property. Be ready as it is not only a mere threat. Our suicide bombers will kill you. Consider it a final call”.

According to Pervez Masih, the government says it will take matter into consideration, which has created a situation of insecurity among all Christians in Peshawar. The letters have been sent to some members of the Christian community in the Kohati area, a neighbourhood in the interior city, where some of their old places of worship are situated.  August 10th the members of the community held a meeting with Peshawar City Police Chief, informing him about their apprehensions. The police have increased patrols in the area and the number of policemen deputed there had been raised.

It is not the first time that Pakistan’s Christians have been similarly intimidated.  June 12th last, Christians in Shantinagar village in the Khanewal district, Southern Punjab received anonymous letters on 12 June, written in Urdu, in which they were told to convert to Islam or leave the area, or be ready to face the consequences. The same threat May 7th to Christians in Charsadda City - North-West Frontier Province – ten days later Christians found the same message written on a wall near a church.

 

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