ASIA/PAKISTAN-Christians fleeing from Gujranwala, for fear of a massacre
Lahore (Fides Service) - The faithful of the two Christian neighborhoods "Aziz colony" and "Gulzar Colony in the city of Gujranwala (Punjab province) are leaving their homes, terrified, to save their lives after the attack which occurred on Saturday, April 30. Two days ago a crowd of more than 500 extremists attacked the neighborhoods where more than 2,500 Christians live. The excuse was the discovery of a burnt copy of the Koran in a Christian cemetery in the colonies. Local Fides sources fear the occurrence of a massacre, as in episodes of Gojra, a city where, in summer 2009, the Christian houses were burned and the faithful burned alive (9 dead and many wounded) by a mob of Muslims, after a false blasphemy case.
The point is - refer concerned sources of Fides – is that Christians in Pakistani cities live in "ghetto-like neighborhoods" (the so-called "colonies"), so it is very easy to make a killing ground that, in the attack on Saturday was prevented only by prompt intervention of the police. Security measures were further strengthened yesterday and today, after news of the killing of bin Laden, but the situation remains tense. Even Paul Bhatti, Special Advisor to the Government for religious minorities went to Gujranwala to manifest the closeness of the government to Christian minorities, confirming that "the situation is under control, for the deployment of police forces that have prevented serious accidents" . Police have arrested more than 20 extremists and also three Christians. According to Fides sources, the episode is a clear mise-en-scene to find an excuse to attack Christians and incite religious hatred and violence. In front of the Christian colonies a banner appeared which read: "We condemn the burning of the Koran and the blasphemy against the Prophet, performed by Christians”, addressed with offensive epithets.
In the area of Gujranwala, two weeks ago, there were anti-Christian violence, after the blasphemy case against the two Christians Mushtaq Gill and his son Farrukh who were arrested on charges of having desecrated a copy of the Koran (see Fides 18 / 4 / 2011). According to sources of Fides, the city is a hub for Islamic extremists in Punjab and it is therefore a hot spot where religious minorities are in extreme danger. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 05/02/2011)
After the death of Bin Laden the Bishops remember the "love for enemies" and "the example of John Paul II"
Islamabad (Agenzia Fides) - "In the soul of a Christian there is never joy for the death of a man, even if he is an enemy. On the occasion of th
Pope John Paul II met with Prime Minister of Iran. Image via Wikipedia
Bishop Andrew Francis, Bishop of Multan and President of the “Commission for Interreligious Dialogue” in the Episcopal Conference, told Fides:" I had two meetings with the civil and military authorities to discuss security measures to Christian sites in South Punjab, after the death of Bin Laden. What I brought to them was the example of Blessed John Paul II, a man of dialogue, peace, role model for Muslim-Christian relations in Pakistan”.
The bishop recalled "the closeness of the Church towards the Muslims, with whom we shared yesterday a celebration in honor of Blessed interfaith John Paul II”. "Today it is important for us to point out his shining example of openness to others, dialogue with Islam, recognized and appreciated by Pakistani Muslims to stop any fundamentalist drift and any attempt to incite hatred among religious communities”.
Even Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha, Archbishop Emeritus of Lahore, stressed in a statement that "the death of Bin Laden, considered by many a hero of the Islamic revolution, and the center of Islamic extremism in the world, can help to demystify extremism ", thus reducing the tension and intolerance in Pakistan. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 05/02/2011)