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  • » 03/11/2013, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Pakistan: Christians and Muslims protest against Lahore arson attack

    Shafique Khokhar

    The final toll is 178 homes destroyed. In Karachi and Lahore Christian schools closed as a sign of respect. In Faisalabad, thousands of people demonstrate against the violent episode. Muslim activists for human rights: "The police knew but did nothing. Our political leaders have to leave."

    Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Pakistani Christians and Muslims have joined together in their condemnation of the arson attack on a Christian neighborhood of Lahore, where on March 9 last 178 houses were razed to the ground. As a sign of respect, today the Christian schools of Lahore and Karachi will remain closed for the entire day. Yesterday thousands of people in Faisalabad - including women, children, priests, nuns and Muslim activists - organized a sit-in in the main street of the city, which ended peacefully with a general prayer.

    Meanwhile, the situation in the country remains tense. In Islamabad some people attacked Christians, but without setting fire to their homes.

    The fire at Lahore's Joseph Colony came after the arrest for blasphemy - reported a day before - by a young Christian accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad by a local barber.

    Ameena Zaman, a Muslim activist for human rights, says that "the police had ordered the Christians of Joseph Colony to evacuate their homes 12 hours before the accident. If the police knew that there would be an attack, why did they do nothing to save the Christians? ".

    For Fr. Bonnie Mendes, the Lahore attack "unequivocally shows the evil intentions that lie behind accusations of blasphemy. This was a premeditated way to threaten, destroy and loot the property of Christians, and possibly even kill them."

    According to Zaman Khan, a Muslim activist, "what happened confirms that our leaders do not consider religious minorities equal citizens of Pakistan. We must fight against this ideology that drives people to attack their neighbor" only because they are of another religion.

    Another Muslim of the same opinion is Arif Ayyaz who adds "it is time to speak out against the ineligibility of our politicians." Pakistan will vote in general elections between April and May this year.

     

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    See also

    16/02/2010 PAKISTAN
    Christians outraged in Lahore over release of young domestic worker’s murderer
    Angry protests receive judge’s decision to release Chaudhry Muhammad Naeem, charged with the murder of Shazia Bashir. Police, doctors and prosecutors are accused of complicity with the accused. The silence of political and legal authorities is deafening to many on Facebook.

    02/02/2010 PAKISTAN
    Activists warn, the murder of a 12-year-old Christian girl could go unpunished
    The murder of young domestic worker, raped and murdered by her employer, is marred by delays and red tape. The murderer, a rich lawyer from Lahore, is getting a VIP treatment from police. Catholics and members of human rights groups have come out in support of the family and are suing the culprit.

    03/11/2004 PAKISTAN
    Blasphemy law: death threats against teenage girl forces family to flee


    10/12/2004 PAKISTAN – HUMAN RIGHTS
    Religious minorities, persecuted and marginalised

    Non-Muslims are marginalised from the country's political and social life despite guarantees for equal rights and obligations under the 1947 constitution.



    17/04/2013 PAKISTAN
    Faisalabad: Muslim leaders defend young Christian against false blasphemy accusations
    Philip Masih was accused of removing a poster on a shop wall by a Muslim neighbour who got armed men together to punish the alleged blasphemer. The police and the authorities successfully prevented a violent escalation. The two had argued before and the Muslim man wanted revenge.



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