Anti-Christian violence erupts: CEN 5.07.09 p 6. May 12, 2009Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Persecution.
Paramilitary troops are patrolling the streets of Karachi following a week of sectarian and political violence that has shut down much of the city. In an April 30 email to The Church of England Newspaper Bishop Ijaz Inayat reports “it is yet another sad day in Pakistan as over thirty persons were killed in violent clashes in different areas of Karachi and over 24 vehicles set ablaze, even houses and shops in big numbers set on fire.”
Clashes between Muhajirs, Muslims who migrated to Pakistan from India following the 1947 partition, and ethnic Pashtuns have killed over two dozen people, while Christians have taken to the streets to protest attacks on churches and members of their community.
Anti-Christian violence erupted when pro-Taliban militants tried to prevent local Christians from removing graffiti on their church that demanded Christians convert to Islam or pay jiziya, the poll tax levied on non-Muslim minorities living under Islamic rule as sanctioned by Sharia, the Daily Times reported on April 23.
When the police arrived to break up the fighting between Christians and Muslims, they turned their guns on the Christians, Bishop Inayat reported, shooting three men.
Michael Javaid, a former member of the Sindh Provincial Assembly, told the ANS news service Christians were afraid as a sizable number of Taliban had entered the city “in an attempt to press their demands of enforcing Sharia Justice System” in the city.
“I fear the Taliban will start demanding minority tax from Pakistani Christians too,” he added.
Last month the Taliban began demolishing the homes of members of the Sikh community in the Ferozkhel area of Orakzai Agency along the North West Frontier after the Sikhs failed to make a 15 million rupees jiziya payment to the Taliban. Taliban militants had demanded 50 million rupees, holding local Sikh leader Sardar Saiwang Singh captive and occupying a number of Sikh-owned houses until the minority community complied, the ANI news service said.
The imposition of the poll-tax on non-Muslims and increased violence has led many Sikhs, Hindus and Christians to flee Taliban controlled areas. The government is continuing its military operations against the Taliban, but the militants last week took control of the town of Buner, less than sixty miles from the capital of Islamabad.
On April 29, US President Barack Obama stated he was “gravely concerned about the situation in Pakistan.” He said, “I’m … concerned that the civilian government there right now is very fragile.”
Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari said his country was facing a “critical hour.”
“The time has come for the entire nation to give pause to their political differences and rise to the occasion and give full support to our security forces,” he said in a statement released on April 29.