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» 10/23/2007
PAKISTAN
Talibans attack Catholic schools in Swat Valley
by Qaiser Felix
Schools are under threat from suicide bombers. Students, forced to follow Islamic precepts, are leaving the valley. A long report by Minorities Concern of Pakistan points the finger at the unchallenged advance of Taliban groups in the country, which have reached the Swat Valley, an area also known as the ‘Switzerland of the Orient.’

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – The process of talebanisation of Pakistan continues despite formal pledges by the central government and local authorities. Islamic extremism has in fact reached the Swat Valley, once known as the Switzerland of the Orient, this according to a report by Minorities Concern of Pakistan, a local organisation which monitors the situation of minorities and violations of the human rights of the population.

One of the cases cited in the report involves a Catholic-run public high school in Sangota, in the Swat Valley. In a recent letter, a group calling itself Janisaran-i-Islam (Sacrifices of Islam) attacked the school administration for allegedly “forcibly converting students” and “encouraging un-Islamic behaviour.”

The fundamentalist group calls for the firing of all Christians employed by the school and their replacement with fervent Muslims. It also threatens suicide bombers “if its orders are not followed.”

Instead of finding out what the school had to say, the local government agreed with the letter, and issued an order that all female students cover their heads in the school to preserve local Islamic morality from conversion and atheism.

Extremists enthusiastically welcomed the order, citing the case of the three young Christian women in Indonesia who were decapitated for not wearing the veil.

Worried by the turn of events, many parents pulled their daughters from the school, which was forced to shut down till next week when local authorities will send security agents to enforce security. However, only half of all non Muslim students are planning to come back. Many are actually thinking about leaving the country to avoid further violence.

What is happening does not worry the Christian minority alone. In the Swat Valley, a region much loved by Pakistanis and one of the country’s richest areas, greater Islamist pressures show that the government has failed to stem the flow of Talibans from neighbouring Afghanistan.

In an editorial article, the Daily Time says that the “government seems unable to control the militant groups, who have been controlling the different areas in the province and making people’s lives miserable,” opposed to everything that makes Pakistan a modern country.

On September 26 various Christian and Muslim non-governmental organisations operating in the country demonstrated in Islamabad against the rising tide of violence. They warned the government that if Islamic extremism is not stopped, humanitarian aid of any kind will dry up.


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See also
05/20/2009 PAKISTAN
Swat Valley: two million refugees on the run, as Caritas Pakistan provides assistance
by Qaiser Felix
05/04/2007 PAKISTAN
Female Muslim students want fatwa against moderate Islam, cause of obscenities
11/10/2007 PAKISTAN
Another attack on the giant Buddha of Swat
07/29/2009 PAKISTAN
Sharia is still the law of reference in the districts of North-West Frontier
by Fareed Khan
04/21/2009 PAKISTAN
Archbishop of Lahore: Sharia in the Swat Valley is contrary to Pakistan's founding principles
by Qaiser Felix

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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