11/10/2009, 00.00
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Blasphemy in Pakistan and the European Court’s attack on the crucifix

by Bernardo Cervellera
Launched today from Rome the European leg (France, Holland, Belgium, Germany) of a campaign to raise awareness in Church and society of the plight and oppression of minorities in Pakistan, particularly the Christian one, due to the blasphemy law. A most unusual unity of purpose joins Islamic fundamentalists and European relativists.

Rome (AsiaNews) - Representatives of Justice and Peace in Pakistan today launched their European campaign (France, Holland, Belgium, Germany) from Rome to raise awareness in Church and society of the plight and oppression of minorities in Pakistan, particularly the Christian one, due to the blasphemy law. 

AsiaNews has decided to support their struggle. Moreover, from its inception 6 years ago, the promotion of religious freedom has been the cornerstone of our agency.

The Christians of Pakistan are a mere 4 million in a sea of over 160 million Muslims. This small minority of believers therefore is calling for the repeal of the notorious blasphemy law. This law, in force since 1986, legislates for prison or the death penalty for all those who insult the Quran or Muhammad. In these past 23 years nearly a thousand people have been accused of this crime and several hundred have been killed. In recent years, at least 50 Christians have been tortured and eliminated for this crime and many villages and Christian churches destroyed and burned. The latest episode in order of time is Koriyan and Gojra, where thousands of Muslims attacked Christian homes and churches for a false accusation of blasphemy and killed 7 people, including women and children, burning them alive. These killings take place without trial, the result of a rough justice dispensed by angry crowds, incited by their imams or by prison guards, who are complicit in the bigotry or corrupt.

In the dossier AsiaNews (Save Christians and Pakistan from the blasphemy law), also covered in our this month’s edition of our magazine, we can see that this law is actually an tool misused to eliminate political opponents, competitors in business, neighbours and to silence the Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadis, and even the Shiite Muslim minority. It is actually a time bomb that threatens to explode the entire Pakistani society, dividing these groups one from the other, and betrays the founding ideals from which the country was born in 1948, which excluded any religious discrimination, valuing the contribution of each community.

The blasphemy law, as well as various laws inspired by Sharia law in Pakistan, is a sign of the increasing Islamization of the country which is subjected to military and cultural pressure by the Taliban, which is close to modern imams who preach and teach in teeming madrassas.  

Can this campaign suggest something to our Europe? The Italian and European world, engaged in an exhausting war in Afghanistan, are increasingly becoming aware that they cannot win by military might alone, but also need to approach the cultural problem of the relationship between Islam and modernity, Islam and coexistence with other religions and minorities.  

A reconciled Pakistan could have a beneficial influence also on the nearby Afghanistan.

This campaign against blasphemy comes just a few days after the curious decision of the European Court for Human Rights which prohibits the display of crucifixes in public schools, because they have been deemed offensive to children of other religions or atheists.  

There is a link between these two positions. Not for nothing, years ago a Muslim fundamentalist demanded the same thing from the Italian government. Curiously the empty tolerance of relativists and Islamic fundamentalism tend toward the same conclusion: eliminate all traces of Christian symbols and figures: in Pakistan with the blasphemy law. In Europe with a “blasphemy” against attacks on relativist beliefs.

In both cases, we propose coexistence between identities, without having to force anyone to hide their identity, the guarantee of being able to work with their faith for the advancement of peoples.

We believe a strange connivance between anti-Christian relativism and Islamic fundamentalism is taking place, perhaps motivated by hatred toward the Christian roots and economic interests. How can we otherwise explain the support of several Western countries for the possibility of sharia among Islamic communities in Europe, or their support of a UN resolution, proposed by Islamic nations, for an international blasphemy law. These resolutions, if implemented, could undermine global coexistence. 

Once again we must affirm the prophetic value of the speech by Benedict XVI in Regensburg. In it, he asked the religions (fundamentalist Islam) to renounce violence as irrational and contrary to God at the same time he asked the Western world to once again look at God and religion not as an impediment to reason, but as its completion.














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