» 09/23/2013, 00.00
Pakistani Christians and Muslims condemn “cowardly" attack on Peshawar church
The President of the Catholic Bishops speaks of "shameful and cowardly" act. Bishop Coutts calls for " special prayers " for the victims and their families , and appeals to Christians "for calm and peace." Muslim leader expresses closeness "to our Christian brothers and sisters ." Protests across the country against the massacre , claimed by an Islamist group .
(AsiaNews) - The Christian community is still in shock over yesterday's
massacre in Peshawar, in northern Pakistan , where two suicide bombers blew
themselves up outside a Protestant church causing a hundred dead and over 130
injured, some severe . The
condemnation of religious leaders - Catholics, Protestants, Muslims - has been
unanimous. They are praying for the
victims and their families. A
note from the Episcopal Conference ( PCBC ) , signed by the President Msgr. Joseph
Coutts - Archbishop of Karachi - expresses "strong condemnation" in the
"strongest terms" to what he called an "attack on innocent men,
women and children". In
cities across the country demonstrations were held to protest against the
suicide attack, claimed by the Islamic extremist group Jandullah , already
known in the past for attacks against the Shiite minority and the death of nine
foreign climbers - on the Himalayas - last June.
morning, at the end of Sunday service, two suicide bombers blew themselves up
near the Protestant Church of All Saints in Kohati Gate, Peshawar , capital of
the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , in northern Pakistan . The
historic building, built in 1883, echoes the mosques , is facing Mecca and is
an iconic building for its attempt to foster peace, harmony and co-existence
between the Muslim majority and the Christian minority . At
the time of the attack - favored by poor security measures granted by local
authorities, even though the building is located in what is considered the
"red zone" - there were at least 600 people.
his message, the president of the Pakistani bishops speaks of a "shameful
and cowardly" act and expresses sorrow for the lose of "so many
innocent lives" and " solidarity " to the families . The
prelate also announced the closure of all Christian educational institutions
September 23 to 25 " as a sign of mourning and protest." Archbishop
Coutts also calls for "special prayers" for "those who have been
martyred and wounded", while launching an appeal to the whole Christian
community to "remain calm and avoid violent acts". He
turns finally to the government to "take all necessary measures to catch
the perpetrators," and urgent measures to "protect the places of
worship of religious minorities " against attacks that have reached "alarming
proportions " .
and condemnation is also expressed by other Christian and Muslim leaders . The bishop of Islamabad /
Rawalpindi Msgr. Rufin
Anthony speaks of "a terrible event " for a country "plagued by
are living in conditions of insecurity because of government policies",
adds the prelate, who urged Christians "to protest in a peaceful manner
and not cause incidents" at a time when "maximum unity is required." Today,
among other things , the activists of APMA - as announced
yesterday by Paul Bhatti to AsiaNews - are holding an impressive (but
peaceful ) demonstration in Islamabad.
were also expressed by Maulana Tahir Ashrafi , chairman of the Ulema Council ,
who emphasizes his closeness "to our Christian brothers and sisters".
is shameful that the government - adds the Muslim leader - fails to protect
minorities in Pakistan," the Constitution provides "the protection of
their rights." "We
ask - he concludes - that minorities are protected". Fr. Chand
Gill , a priest in Peshawar , whose parish is located not far from the area of
the attack speaks of a "devastating" scene. "The wave of
violence and terrorism - he adds - is unstoppable".
a population of over 180 million people (97 per cent Muslim), Pakistan is the
sixth most populous country in the world and the second Muslim nation after Indonesia.
Just under 80 per cent are Sunni Muslim, and 20 per cent are Shia. Hindus are
around 1.85 per cent; Christians are 1.6 per cent and Sikhs 0.04 per cent.
Violence against ethnic or religious minorities is commonplace across the
country, especially Christians a favorite target for Islamic fundamentalists. There
have been dozens of incidents of violence, including targeted attacks against
entire communities - Gojra in 2009 or Joseph Colony Lahore in March last year -
or abuses against individuals, often perpetrated under the pretext of blasphemy
laws that end up hitting innocent victims (the case of the Christian minor
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Islamabad “uses terrorism against minorities".
Peter Jacob, secretary general of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace Pakistan, visiting Europe tells AsiaNews, "Under the guise of Islamic identity and the war on terror, the government keeps in force the laws of religious discrimination."
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Peshawar massacre, Indian Christian leaders: All places of worship must be protected
Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), condemns the attack against the Protestant church in Pakistan. "The murder of the faithful and innocent children - he says - is a cowardly act. We are worried about the violent contempt of Islamic extremists. "
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