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» 05/19/2011
PAKISTAN
Pakistani Christians "number one target " after the death of Bin Laden
by Jibran Khan
Fr. Javed Gill, parish priest in Abbotabad, confirms that the situation in the town is still "critical" for religious minorities. The killing of the Al Qaeda leader has increased fears and alert levels. Prayer and fasting for peace in the region.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - The situation in Abbotabad is "critical" for religious minorities, who are "fasting and praying for peace in the region", Fr Javed Akram Gill, a parish priest in the town where he was killed Osama Bin Laden tells AsiaNews. The priest confirms that the death of the Al Qaeda "has raised fears within the Christian community" because "every time the Americans say or do something, Christians [in Pakistan] become the number one target." Together with the Catholics, the faithful of other Christian denominations "prefer to stay inside" and their leaders refrain from making pastoral visits.

Bin Laden, founder of Al Qaeda was killed on May 2 in a U.S special forces raid in Abbotabad, about 60 km from Islamabad. His death sparked panic and fear in the town. Yesterday, the website of U.S. intelligence SITE released the contents of the last message of bin Laden, published on jihadist forums. In the 12 minute long audio file, he celebrates the Arab revolution in Egypt and Tunisia, calling it a "historic opportunity" for change. Meanwhile, the interim leadership of Al Qaeda is now headed by Saif al-Adel, an long-standing Egyptian terrorist, ahead of the official investiture of the number two al-Zawahiri.

Even today, two weeks after the raid, officials and analysts are wondering how it was possible for Bin Laden, the world’s most hunted man, to live so long and undisturbed in an area with a concentration of military headquarters, including the most important military academy. The day news of the Al Qaeda leaders death was reported, Fr. Gill says, Christians "were holed up inside their homes and asked us to keep a low profile." The same evening a meeting was held in the parish church of St. Peter, the faithful took part in mass to "establish security measures and the strategy for the coming days."

The priest describes how he was unable to "leave home for several days," virtually bringing "Church activities, pastoral visits to a standstill," while in town "was on a state of maximum alert." "The alarm level - he adds - has never been so high in Abbotabad: all major roads closed." The 160 Catholic faithful have constantly called Fr. Gill, recounting their fear of becoming victims of Islamic fundamentalists revenge. "The Christian families in the district of Bilal – he adds - where Bin Laden’s residence was located, have all fled to other places."

Fr. Javed Gill speaks of a "very low turn out for Mass," although the military have set up a strict security system around places of worship. "The people - he says - fear possible attacks" because they are aware that "every time the Americans say or do something, Christians [in Pakistan] become the number one target." Last year, for example, when the U.S. pastor Terry Jones announced plans to burn the Koran, we were subjected to threats. "We raised protective walls - he said - but they threw stones and empty bottles against the church."

Even members of other Christian denominations remain barricaded in their houses, in an area where "for many years there hasn’t even been a meeting or group Bible study," because of pressure from the local fringe. The situation in Abbotabad remains "critical" for religious minorities, concludes the priest, which is why Christians “pray and fast for peace in the region. "

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See also
11/29/2010 PAKISTAN
Asia Bibi fears for her life, while awaiting a government decision
by Jibran Khan
05/03/2010 IRAQ
Car bomb targets Christian student’s bus near Mosul
05/23/2011 PAKISTAN
Karachi: Pakistani Taliban attack military base, killing 11
by Jibran Khan
05/13/2011 PAKISTAN
Twin bombing in Pakistan, 90 dead. Al Qaeda’s response to killing of Bin Laden
11/10/2010 IRAQ
Three Christians killed and 26 wounded. Appeal of Al Maliki
by Layla Yousif Rahema

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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