Lahore: Shias take to the streets to protest "genocide" against their community
by Kamran Chaudhry

Scores demonstrate in front of the Lahore Press Club. Waving green flags and chanting mournful lamentations, they demand justice for four more Shias murdered on Thursday. For Shia party official, some 25,000 Shias have been killed in Taliban-inspired sectarian violence.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Pakistani Shias gathered in front of the Lahore Press Club to protest the "genocide" against their communities across the country, and to demand justice after four Shias were shot dead on Thursday.

A Shia political party, the Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen* (MWM), observed a day of mourning after a lawyer and teachers were killed in Dera Ismail Khan, a city in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Meanwhile, police have opened separate investigations against unidentified gunmen.

Protesters marched waving large green flags with red and black stripes, chanting nohay (mourning lamentations).

“Our battle is against the mind-set that wants to turn the country into a Taliban state,” said Asad Abbas Naqwi, MWM political affairs secretary.

“Madrassas (Islamic seminaries) plagued with takfir** have become hideouts for terrorists. We demand justice for the families of martyrs,” he added.

In recent years, sectarian clashes between majority Sunnis (70 per cent) and minority Shias (20 per cent) have increased. Ismaili Shias are known for their modern vision of Islam.

Over the past decade, some 25,000 Shias have been killed in clashes and terror attacks, Naqwi said.

In Quetta (Balochistan), many Hazara Shias have moved to enclaves exclusive to their community over the years, this according to the 2015 Annual Report of the Human right Commission of Pakistan.

Last October, more than 60 people were killed in a suicide attack on a Shia mosque in Shikarpur district, Sindh province. Before that, an attack outside a Shia mosque in Balochistan’s Bolan district caused the death of 11 people.

Allama Muhammad Hussain Akbar, who runs an Islamic University in Lahore, blames Saudi Arabia for funding sectarian violence against Shias in Pakistan.

“My university has been receiving threatening phone calls and letters for years. It’s routine,” he said.

* Assembly of Muslim Unity.

** Takfir is the accusation by Muslims against fellow Muslims of being a nonbeliever.