ASIA/PAKISTAN - Church ransacked and Christian children beaten: a Muslim blogger defends them

Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - A Muslim intellectual and blogger took to the streets to defend the Christian children beaten in an episode that has recently shaken the Christian community in Karachi, the capital of Sindh: In past days a group of 4 Muslims attacked a Christian Pentecostal Church in New Colony Mianwali in Manghopir (an area in Karachi), they hit the children, ransacked the church, damaged the holy vessels, trampled on the Bibles and broke the sound systems. According to the attackers, coming from a mosque which is located nearby, "Christian children songs disturb their prayers".
"The local Christian community did not want to press charges - a Christian explains to Fides, a local representative of APMA (All Pakistan Minorities Alliance) - for fear of retaliation. The attack frightened the community to the extent that all nine churches in the area were closed for several days. Especially children are terrified".
To take up the defense of the small local community was the intellectual and Muslim blogger Sana Saleem who, as reported to Fides by the Commission "Justice and Peace" of the Bishops of Pakistan, said she was "shocked" and called the episode "heinous , barbaric, despicable". The intellectual, a blogger for the Pakistani and international newspapers such as the "Guardian", said that "it will happen again, because this is not just bigotry, but blind hatred that our silence feeds". The blogger also defends other religious minorities like the Ahmadis (considered an Islamic sect), victims of abuse and harassment in Pakistan, and writes: "If we do not find the strength to take a stand against bigotry, to express outrage against barbarity, to be compassionate toward those who suffer, we will be well on our way to self-destruction". In the New Colony Mianwali about 400 Christian families live in the midst of Muslim families of ethnic Pashtuns. In past days, the Catholic politician Michael Javed reported to Fides that over 5,000 Christian faithful in Karachi are victims of unspeakable violence by members of Pashtun and Islamic movements in other districts of Karachi (see Fides 14/01/2011). After the episode of Manghopir some local Muslim leaders are trying to promote meetings of reconciliation between the two communities. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 17/01/2011)

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