04/29/2013, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Punjab, Muslims and Christians clash over threshing machine: one dead and two injured

by Jibran Khan
A trivial quarrel between two old friends - one Christian and one Muslim - triggers wrath of the Islamic community, who opened fire on a Christian village. Police and rangers struggle to stop fighting. Local priest: "Hatred of the neighbor has become common practice; authorities must defend religious minorities."

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - A shootout leaving one person dead, two wounded and the arrest of dozens of people: the episode took place in Pakistan, after a quarrel between two old friends - a Christian and a Muslim - over a threshing machine turned into a violent attack of a group of Muslims against the Christian village Chak No. 31/10R (Khanewal district, southern Punjab). The clashes broke out on April 27, and continued for over an hour, with the local police unable to stop the riots. Only the intervention of the rangers (paramilitary forces that respond to the Interior Ministry, ed) brought the situation back to normal. For Fr. Aher Javed, a Catholic priest who lives in the area, the attack "shows that religious intolerance is growing and hatred towards each other has become common".

Everything stems from a dispute between John Gill and Muhammad Safdar (fictitious names for security reasons), a Christian and Muslim, described as close friends since childhood. On April 26, the two argued over agricultural issues, both being farmers: the Christian decided to rent the threshing machine from someone else and not his friend. Their fight first involved their families and then the whole Islamic community. Fifty Muslim rallied against the Christian village: Gill suffered a gun wound to the neck, injuring him seriously. The Christians reacted, killing Safdar.

The death of the Muslim unleashed the wrath of his community, which violently attacked and threatened to burn the village. The police and rangers were able to quell the rage only after more than an hour, arresting members of both factions. Yesterday, Mass was held on a regular basis, but with the presence of paramilitary troops.

The incident recalls the arson attack on a Christian neighborhood in Lahore, where on March 9 last 178 houses were razed to the ground. "By now, even a little dispute - notes Fr. Javed - can cause suffering for an entire community. We condemn such incidents: our religion is a religion of peace and tolerance, we promote tolerance and acceptance. We ask the authorities to ensure the security of religious minorities. "

 

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