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Pakistan’s Hindu minority lives in mounting fear

Posted by jagoindia on June 25, 2011

PAKISTAN: Hindu minority lives in mounting fear

January 2011 (IRIN) – In a private hospital in the port city of Karachi, a child has just been born. But rather than triggering joy among his family members, the birth has also led to bitter disputes.

The child’s parents wish to give the baby boy a name which will not instantly identify him as Hindu. His maternal grandfather, Suresh Kapoor, 75, disagrees. “We must keep our traditions, our identity or we will be lost,” he said. Other family elders support him but younger members argue safety is a key concern.

Hindus make up about 1.8 percent of Pakistan’s predominantly Muslim population of 165 million, according to official figures. The largest number, about 95 percent, is concentrated in the southern province of Sindh. The Hindu population has declined over the years with more and more, according to media reports, opting to leave the country or become Muslim to avoid discrimination.

Discrimination against all minority communities has expanded rapidly, say oberservers. Early in November, Aasia Bibi, a young Christian mother of five, was sentenced to death by a court under controversial blasphemy laws. She became the first woman to be condemned to hang under the law. The case against her seemed to have been triggered by a minor dispute with other female farm labourers on the land she worked on, after they said she, as a non-Muslim, was `impure’ and could not fetch water from a well.

Human rights groups, including international rights watchdog Human Rights Watch, expressed shock and in an unusual move for a politician, the governor of the Punjab Province, Salman Taseer, went to visit Aasia in jail, expressed sympathy over her plight and criticized the blasphemy law.

In doing so, he may have written his own death sentence. Taseer was gunned down on 3 January in Islamabad by a police bodyguard who then turned himself in and said he had killed the governor as he had described the blasphemy law as a “black law”.

“This is a terrible thing. Everyone should be free to practice their religion. The governor died for defending a poor Christian woman,” Saleem Masih, 30, a Christian factory worker, told IRIN.

Concern has been expressed by human rights groups over increased violence against minorities. The secretary-general of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, I.A. Rehman, said: “This is the result of increased incitement of hatred by extremists and militants.”

Hindus, regarded by many hardline Muslims as especially undesirable infidels since their belief does not include the idea of a single God, have faced especially tough times.


“These days we Hindus live in fear and with a constant sense of insecurity,” Amarnath Motumal, a Hindu community leader and lawyer, told IRIN. He said one reason for this was the kidnapping of Hindu girls, who were then married to Muslim men and converted to Islam.

“We have no problem of course when a girl aged over 18 chooses to marry a Muslim of her own free will and converts [Islamic laws in force in the country make it mandatory for a Hindu to convert in order to marry a Muslim]. But these kidnappings involve girls who are much younger, and courts have upheld ‘marriages’ of this nature,” he said.

According to Motumal, 10-15 such abductions took place each month in the Lyari locality of Karachi alone. “Many more occur in rural areas of Sindh but not all families want to talk about them,” he said.

In other places kidnappings take place for other reasons. From the southwestern province of Balochistan there have been reports of Hindus being abducted in increasing numbers. Ransom has been sought in some cases, according to media reports.

Motumal believes, however, that in Balochistan, Hindus are being “picked up” by security forces, because they are perceived as backing nationalists in the province who are waging a struggle for autonomy.

“These persons are labelled as Indian agents backing nationalists, even though they have lived in Balochistan for generations and have no links with India,” Motumal said. (India is a Hindu majority country.)

Government ministers have accused neighbouring India, whose relations with Pakistan are tense, of fuelling unrest in Balochistan.

There has also been a spate of kidnappings of Hindu children, usually for ransom. According to a survey by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPRC), a local NGO, 23 such abductions took place from between January 2008 and December 2010.

Salam Dharejo, SPRC’s national manager for child labour, believes the fact Hindu communities usually combine resources to pay the money demanded and rescue children makes them vulnerable to such crime.

Lack of trust in law enforcement

“The families of victims do not trust the police and are scared of the criminals as well,” Dharejo said. He told IRIN the kidnappings, and the torture of some of the abducted children, had terrorized the Hindu community. “The Hindus feel helpless. Children are being kept away from even the doors of their homes and in the Hindu locality of Kandhkot town all Hindu children are being kept away from school,” he said.

Ramesh Lala, a member of the National Assembly and a representative of Hindus, told IRIN: “This is the result of a worsening law and order situation in Sindh where kidnappings are becoming more and more frequent. It is not just Hindus who suffer.”

“Being a Hindu mother today is terrifying. I fear my 14-year-old daughter could be taken away, my husband victimized as he sometimes openly speaks out in favour of his religion, or my younger children kidnapped. The police ignore us when we complain, so criminals target us,” said Asha Lal, 40. She said the growth of extremism and laws such as those on blasphemy “led to Hindus and other non-Muslims suffering”.

In May 2008 a Hindu factory worker was killed on blasphemy charges while a year later, Hindus came under attack in the town of Umerkot following another charge of blasphemy.

Hindu temples have also come under attack, bringing angry protests from community leaders.

“All this violence against Hindus began in the 1980s, but lately it has been growing worse. We do not feel safe,” Amarnath Motumal said.

Posted in Blasphemy, Hindus, Islamofascism, Pakistan, Temples, Terrorism | Comments Off on Pakistan’s Hindu minority lives in mounting fear

Bible should be banned, demand Muslim clerics in Pakistan

Posted by jagoindia on June 2, 2011

Bible should be banned, demanded JUI leaders
May 31 2011

Ban on the holy book of Christians has been demanded by a group of Muslim clerics. They have blamed that several stories inserted into Bible, charge various prophets of various moral crimes which compromise the sanctity of the holy prophets.

While addressing to a Press Conference in Masjid-e- Khizra , Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Samiul Haq) leader Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi and others pleaded the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of the “blasphemous” materials added to the Bible. “Otherwise we will be compelled to move the court to ban the book completely, on which a panel of lawyers is already working”, they added.

Farooqi said, he and his colleagues want to reply the blasphemers in an equally insulting attack, but Islam does not allow repeating such heinous activities. “We will not follow the footsteps of Terry Jones and will not burn the holy book”, he said. Adding to it, he said some other punishment-mode would be devised soon to prevent such incidents from happening again in the future.

Farooqi cited a number of scriptures from the Bible, saying such “insertions” strongly offend the Muslims, who hold all prophets and holy books in high esteem, as part of religious belief and never even think of committing any blasphemy against them, as reported by The News.

On the other hand various Muslim Scholars have rejected the idea of banning the holy book of Christians. They warned that it will only end up in the clash between two religions. The enemies of Islam would get a chance to defame Islam even more, if the idea of banning Bible is put into practice, they said.

Mufti Mohammad Khan Qadri, central leader of Tahaffuz Namoos Risalat Mahaz (TNRM), said, “There is no doubt that Bible suffered numerous tampering which their scholars also admit but inviting an open clash with Christianity is not in the interest of Islam, particularly at this crucial juncture”

A noted Shia scholar Hafiz Kazim Raza Naqvi opined that only preaching of Islam can help solving such issues with peace.

Qadri invited all the religious scholars belonging from different schools of thoughts to sit together and find a better way for dealing blasphemy issues in order to stay away from any resulting communal clash.

Head of Ruet e hilal committee Mufti Munib ur Rehman could not be contacted even after several tries. Whereas Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Syed Munawwar Hasan refrained from giving any comment without first reading the text of the press conference or the published news item.

Posted in Blasphemy, Christianity, Pakistan | 3 Comments »

Rampaging Muslims in Pakistan riot and kill Christians, burn houses

Posted by jagoindia on August 5, 2009

Christians killed in Pakistan riots

A child and four women are among at least eight Christians killed after 40 houses and a church were set ablaze amid riots with Muslims in eastern Pakistan, officials have said.

Dozens of people were also injured in the violence in Pakistan’s Gojra village, which erupted after allegations surfaced that a Quran had been defiled, the officials said on Saturday.

“Six Christians including a child were killed and more than a dozen were injured in this sad incident,” Shahbaz Bhatti, a federal minister of minorities, told the AFP news agency by telephone.

“Some people blamed the Christians for the desecration of the holy Quran,” he said adding that the accusations were “baseless”.

Mohammad Saleem, a correspondent for The Dawn newspaper in Pakistan, told Al Jazeera: “The clashes erupted when a boy of a Christian community allegedly desecrated a few pages of the holy Quran.

“The Christians said the Muslims were in a mood to attack the locality.”

Renewed tensions

Police said that unrest between the two groups of villagers first flared late last month over a dispute over the Muslim holy book, which was later resolved.

But tensions erupted on Saturday when the Christian group were attacked again and their houses set on fire.

“Today, according to our information … this is the same issue of alleged desecration of the Quran,” Inkisar Khan, the city police chief, told reporters.

“All the dead are Christians. I was told that they were burned alive.”

Television footage from the area showed police using tear gas to disperse an angry mob.

Desecrating the Quran is punishable by death under the blasphemy laws of mainly Muslim Pakistan, but no such sentences have been carried out.

Christians, who make up less than three per cent of Pakistan’s population of 150 million, say the blasphemy laws are used as an excuse to victimise them.

6 Christians Killed in Pakistan Violence
By VOA News
01 August 2009

Authorities say six Christians, including four women and a child, have been killed in clashes with Muslims in Pakistan’s eastern province of Punjab.

The provincial minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, said a group of radical Muslims burned the homes of Christians in the city of Gojra Saturday, after accusing them of desecrating Islam’s holy book, the Koran.

Bhatti said there was no truth to the allegations.

Television footage from the scene showed houses burning and streets strewn with blackened debris. There were also reports of gunfights.

Provincial officials urged both the Muslim and Christian communities to show restraint.

Elsewhere, police said Saturday they had arrested a member of an al-Qaida linked group, suspected of involvement in several attacks including last year’s suicide bombing of Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel.

Authorities detained Rao Shakir, a suspected member of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, on the outskirts of Islamabad this week.

In other news, schools in Pakistan’s northwest re-opened Saturday, for the first time in three months.

Schools were closed during intense fighting between Taliban militants and the Pakistan military that erupted after the collapse of a peace deal.

The students said Saturday they were happy to be back in class, although many were still absent. Most of the nearly two million people who fled the fighting have yet to return to the area, which includes Swat Valley, Lower and Upper Dir and other areas of Malakand district.

The militants, who fought to impose strict Islamic law (Sharia) in parts of northwest Pakistan, targeted schools, especially those that taught girls. More than 350 schools were damaged or destroyed.

Students from the damaged schools learned lessons in tents Saturday.

Pakistan’s government began allowing the displaced to return, after saying it had cleared parts of the northwest of Taliban militants.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

Posted in Blasphemy, Christians | Leave a Comment »

Muslim mob attacks Christians in Pakistan, hundreds flee

Posted by jagoindia on July 4, 2009

Christian families in Kasur hide from angry mobs

* Christians say blasphemy charges result of misunderstanding, argument between two boys
* DCO ‘apologises’ to Christians

By Ali Usman

LAHORE: At least 110 Christian families, almost 700 people, were forced on Tuesday night to flee Bahmniwala, a village in Kasur, after angry mobs attacked and threatened to burn their houses for allegedly committing blasphemy.

The families sought safety in the fields surrounding their village, even as local mosques urged the Muslims to unite and “teach a lesson” to the Christians, residents told Daily Times. However, locals told Daily Times the problem started when a Christian boy, Arif Mashi, was travelling on a tractor and asked a Muslim boy, Muhammad Riaz, to allow him to pass. When Riaz refused, the two quarrelled.

Following this incident, on Tuesday night, a mob attacked houses of the area’s Christian community with petrol-bombs, destroying their electricity meters and thrashing any Christians they found. On Wednesday, the Muslim community refused to communicate with the Christian community, boycotting their businesses. The Christians who returned to their homes found they had no electricity or drinking water the entire day. “Despite the presence of police, the mosques continued to urge a complete Christian boycott,” Sohail Johnson, chief coordinator of the Sharing Life Ministry, said.

Human Rights and Minority Affairs Minister Kamran Michael said he had asked officials of the Revenue Department to compile an estimate of the loss suffered by the Christian community. He said justice would be ensured, adding the government would investigate the people responsible for turning the incident into a religious issue.

A committee comprising Christian and Muslim elders of the area, led by Kasur District Coordination Officer (DCO) Abdul Jabbar Shaheen, was formed on Wednesday to look into the matter and negotiate a peace deal between the two groups. The committee has been given four days to settle the matter.

DCO: The DCO said Islam did not allow cruelties against minorities. In his capacity as the DCO, he apologised to the Christians for the treatment that was meted out to them. A fact-finding mission led by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), will travel to the area today (Thursday) to probe into the matter.

Posted in Blasphemy, Christians, Islam, Islamofascism, Pakistan | Leave a Comment »