11/23/2023, 12.49
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Punjab: Islamic extremists use Gaza war to target Christians

by Shafique Khokhar

In recent days, a Muslim radical killed a 20-year-old Christian. The attack was based on alleged social media posts by the young man in support of the Jewish state in the war in Gaza. A similar motive had triggered an assault in October, forcing more than a hundred people to flee. Activists call for justice and government intervention.

Pasrur (AsiaNews) - The murder that occurred in recent days of a twenty-year-old Christian student, Farhan-ul-Qamar, in addition to having thrown a family into desperation, raises the alarm at the same time about the violence against religious minorities in Pakistan, also and above all for the contours in which it occurred.

The incident dates back to 9 November in the Pasrur area, Sialkot district (Punjab province); The shooter would have been Muhammad Zubair, a Muslim, who according to initial reconstructions would have struck for alleged posts published on social media by the young man in support of Israel in the war against Hamas in Gaza.

The following day the police arrested the murderer, but to repeated requests from Farhan's family about the course of the investigation and the true motive for the murder, the police remained completely silent, refusing to answer questions. The investigators report that the investigation "is still ongoing" without adding further details, leaving the relatives in the dark.

Noor Ul Haq, Farhan's father, says that the murder took place at 3 in the morning when Zubair, identified as a Muslim extremist, crossed the wall of the house and entered the house using the opening in a wing at the time under renovation.

The assailant opened fire, exploding three shots that hit the 20-year-old Christian in the neck, ear and shoulder; the family, woken up by the mother, tried to help the young man only to be held at gunpoint and threatened by Zubair for over 45 minutes, peppered with extremist slogans and sectarian threats from the Muslim against the Christian minority.

Farhan's sister, Shoua ul Qamar, does not hide her pain by highlighting her brother's kind nature and her bond with her family, while calling for justice. “My brother was murdered she-she states-she before my eyes, and we live in agony every day. We demand justice."

A similar incident had already occurred in the same village in October, when a Christian named Aqib Javed was the victim of an assault and his father, Javed Masih, was arrested and detained by the police without any reason for about ten days.

The attacks were allegedly based on demonstrations of Christian support for Israel in the fight against Hamas, firmly rejected by the family who denies similar positions - especially public ones - on the part of the young man. Nonetheless, the rumors, although unfounded, have triggered a climate of hostility and violence that has pushed hundreds of Christians to flee their homes in search of shelter.

Commenting on the story, Joseph Jansen, president of Voice for Justice, expresses "deep concern" and condemnation for the "terrible situation" faced by around a hundred Christians "forced to flee" in the face of threats of "Muslim attacks".

Highlighting the case of Aqib Javed, whose father faced illegal detention for ten days, Jansen underlined the unfair repercussions suffered by innocent individuals and the "alarming increase" in intolerance and sectarian hatred in Pakistan.

The Farhan-ul-Qamar affair, combined with the recent outbreaks of violence in Jaranwala incited by Muslims against Christians, has further exacerbated an already "terrible" situation and it is "worrying that the government does not address the underlying social factors that fuel this violence".

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