01/04/2020, 11.00
PAKISTAN
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Nankana Sahib, Islamic radicals attack a Sikh temple

by Shafique Khokhar

Crowd fomented by the family of a young Muslim arrested for kidnapping and converting a Sikh girl.  The attacked city is the birthplace of the founder of Sikhism.  The religious minority remained hostage to extremists for hours.

 

 

Nankana Sahib (AsiaNews) - A crowd of Islamic radicals attacked the Sikh temple in Nankana Sahib (in Punjab), the hometown of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, to avenge the arrest of a Muslim man who had kidnapped and  converted a Sikh girl to Islam.  The crowd gathered yesterday evening in front of the main entrance of the sacred place, throwing stones at the temple.  The extremists threatened to eliminate every single Sikh faithful from the city and announced that they have renamed the location with an Islamic name.

The Rwadari Tehreek (Movement for Tolerance) condemns the episode and calls for "the immediate intervention of the Federal Minister for Religious Minorities Peer Noor ul Haq Qadri.  The attackers and hate bearers must be immediately arrested.  We want zero tolerance for extremists."  The activists express deep concern about yet another case of intolerance against religious minorities in the country.  The group said: "The attack on the Sikhs holiest shrine shows that it is easy to unleash a frenzied crowd in the name of Islam.  Nothing changes the bigoted mentality of the  promoters of hate."

Speaking to AsiaNews Kalyan Singh, a Sikh leader, explains that the violence "was triggered by the family of Mohammad Hassam, the boy who kidnapped and converted Jagjit Kaur about six months ago.  The girl's parents managed to get her home thanks to the intervention of government officials.  But Mohammad's relatives want the young woman to come back to them.  The case is in court and in the meantime the police have arrested the Muslim. "

The Sikh leader complains that his "religious community has been held hostage by Muslims in homes for hours."  Finally, calm returned thanks to the intervention of Peer Sarwar Ahmed Shah, a relative of the Minister of the Interior, who acted as a mediator between the local administration and the angry crowd.  In addition, the police prevented the crowd from committing more serious devastation.  Meanwhile, the community remains in fear and its leaders are planning to bring the case to court.

Samson Salamat, president of Rwadari Tehreek, says: “The Sikh community believed they were a safe minority in Pakistan.  The accident shows that it is not so, they are just like other minorities.  The worst part is that the government tries to deny what happened, despite a temple being attacked, the Sikhs threatened with being eliminated and the city with being renamed in homage to Islam.  We condemn all this and call for the immediate arrest of those responsible. "

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