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Rushdie Award Upsets Pakistan Churches: CEN 7.06.07 p 6. July 6, 2007

Posted by geoconger in British Foreign Policy, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Islam.

Church leaders in Pakistan have condemned the award of a knighthood to author Salman Rushdie saying the government honour could provoke violence against Christians.The award was a “very bad decision” the general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Pakistan, Victor Azariah, told Ecumenical News International on June 28 as “such insensitive decisions will only worsen the anti-Christian feelings in the Muslim world.”

“Revenge attacks against Christians in Pakistan could take place like they did last year,” Fr Aftab James Paul, the director of the Roman Catholic National Commission for Interfaith Harmony and Ecumenism in Pakistan, told Asia News.

Reaction to the award has been fierce in Pakistan. “We deplore the decision of the British government to knight him,” a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said, while the lower house of parliament unanimously passed a government-backed resolution calling Rushdie a “blasphemer.”

Pakistan’s minister of religious affairs, Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq, son of the late dictator General Zia ul-Haq, endorsed suicide bombing against Britain as a response. “If someone exploded a bomb on his body, he would be right to do so unless the British government apologizes and withdraws the ‘sir’ title.” He told the Pakistani parliament that “If someone commits suicide bombing to protect the honor of the Prophet Muhammad, his act is justified.”

The Foreign Office Other has issued a statement of “deep concern,” through its High Commissioner in Islamabad, but noted the minister’s threat will not harm a “very good relationship” with Pakistan and has not blocked a private visit by ul-Haq to Britain.

The death threats against Salman Rushdie bagan in 1989 when Ayatollah Khomeini issued a ‘fatwah’ stating that “the author of the book entitled The Satanic Verses – which has been compiled, printed, and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Qur’an and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death. I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly.”

The death sentence remains in force. Last week Iran’s speaker of parliament, Gholamali Haddadadel, threatened that Muslims “will not leave this imprudent and shameless act without response,” while Iran’s Foreign Ministry Director for Europe, Ebrahim Rahimpour, was quoted as saying by the state-run IRNA news agency “this insulting, suspicious and improper act by the British government is an obvious example of fighting against Islam.”

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