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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
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ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

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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