10/06/2017, 17.00
PAKISTAN
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Sufi Mausoleum attacked to punish the tradition of music and dance, say activists

by Kamran Chaudhry

The Rawadari Tehreek group condemns the attack on the Pir Rakhel Shah shrine, in Balochistan. Radicals are against ‘dhamal’, the whirling dance, because it provides an emotional outlet. For Sufi poet, “terrorism poses greater challenges to activists who cure the evils of society.”

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Christian activists and well-known Pakistani Sufi artists have condemned the attack against the Pir Rakesh Shah Sufi mausoleum, in Jhal Magsi, Balochistan province, which was claimed by the Islamic State group. The latest death toll stands at 31.

"Shrines are targeted because of popular dances and music,” said Samson Salamat, head of Rawadari Tehreek (Movement for Tolerance), who spoke to AsiaNews about the attack.

Sufism is a moderate trend within Islam that includes mystical practices (like music and dance). However, the latter are ostracised by extremists, who regard Sufis as heretics and an insult to Islam.

The "dhamal (ritual whirling) is performed by both men and women. It is popular with drums and allows performers to find an emotional outlet. Terrorists want to end this tradition.

However, “dhamal does not harm anyone and does not violate any human rights,” Salamat said. “It combines pleasure and devotion. Such attacks undermine religious freedom."

Yesterday’s attack is the second this year. In February another Islamic State militant blew himself up at the Sufi shrine in Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, in the city of Sehwan, Sindh.

Three days after that attack, Rawadari Tehreek activists performed the famous dance at the shrine to protest against the murder of 85 innocent people. "We did it to challenge the terrorists," Salamat said.

"The philosophy of Sufism preaches love, harmony between religions, and sense of humanity,” said Baba Najmi, a Punjabi Sufi poet who has performed for the past 40 years.

“Killing innocent people is inhuman. We can’t do anything,” he lamented. “Only a change of heart can stop these terrorists who have lost touch with the earth, country, and religion."

For Sufism, "Everyone deserves to be loved and cared for without distinction of belief. The government has its responsibilities. The current wave of terrorism poses greater challenges to activists who cure the evils of society. Our poetry bears witness to that mission."

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