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PAKISTAN: Militants call for Elimination of Christians



December 12, 2005

Militant Islamists in Pakistan have called for the elimination of Christians and the public hanging of a Christian accused of blasphemy.

Some 3,000 Muslims gathered for Friday prayers at the Jamia Mosque in Sangla Hill on December 2, where three weeks earlier three churches, a school, a convent and Christian homes were attacked in Pakistan's worst outbreak of anti-Christian violence since 2002.

Islamic leaders using loudspeakers urged Muslims to rise up and eliminate Christians. They also passed a resolution demanding that Yousaf Masih, a Christian accused of desecrating the Koran, be publicly hanged. According to a report on December 2 by the Catholic Church's National Commission for Justice and Peace, the speakers also demanded the unconditional release of the 88 Muslims who have been detained by the Pakistani authorities and accused of perpetrating the November 12 attack on Sangla Hill, some 140 miles south of Islamabad.

On December 9, over 2,500 Muslims again gathered at Friday prayers to repeat their demands for violence and the release of the 88 accused of attacking Christians and their property.

On December 4, the National Commission for Justice and Peace organized a National Consultation meeting on 'Ending Religious Intolerance'. The conference in Lahore brought together religious and civil society leaders from around the country, including representatives of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), the Christian Study Centre, the Commission for Peace and Human Development and the Centre of Legal Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS).

The consultation resulted in a joint resolution, which described the Sangla Hill violence as "merely one manifestation of the alarming level of religious intolerance prevailing in the country, being fuelled by hate speech and discriminatory laws." The resolution accused the Pakistani authorities of having "done nothing to defuse the tension" and of "failing to repair the situation". It claimed the Government was "not admitting the facts and is rather protecting the instigators of mob violence". Procedural delays have meant vital evidence has been lost, which has made the judicial process "ineffective", the resolution claimed.

The delegates at the consultation urged the Government to bring the perpetrators of the violence in Sangla Hill to justice "without any delay", release innocent blasphemy prisoners such as Yousaf Masih, who is "clearly victimized due to his religion", and repeal the Blasphemy Laws, Hudood Ordinances and other discriminatory laws.

Group Captain (Rtd) Cecil Chaudhry, Executive Secretary of APMA and one of Pakistan's most prominent human rights activists, said: "Sangla Hill is a test case for the Government as far as putting an end to religious extremism and terrorism is concerned." He demanded that the people who misused the loud speakers of mosques to instigate attacks "be immediately arrested as they had violated the laws legislated by this very government." He also urged the Government to make public the judicial inquiry report into the incident.

Stuart Windsor, National Director of CSW, said: "The situation in Pakistan is becoming increasingly tense. We urge the Pakistani Government to bring the perpetrators of violence to justice, and to be bold and repeal the notorious Blasphemy Laws which are the cause of so much inter-religious strife."

For more information, please contact Richard Chilvers, Communications Manager at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on 020 8329 0045 or email richard.chilvers@csw.org.uk or visit www.csw.org.uk

CSW is a human rights organisation which specialises in religious freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for all.


The speakers at Friday prayers on December 9 at Jamia Mosque, Sangla Hill included Maulana Zia Qadri, Maulana Zulfiqar Ali, Mian Jameel and Maula Zia Mustafa.

According to the Catholic Church's National Commission of Justice and Peace, it was announced that the Chief Minister of Punjab had assured Islamic leaders that the 88 accused shall be released. Islamic leaders have threatened to call a nationwide protest and a "conference for the honour of the Holy Koran" if they are not freed. The speakers blamed the Christian Community of Sangla Hill for desecrating Churches and Christian property.

In a separate incident on December 9, a 27 year-old Christian cobbler, Pervaiz Masih, from Awami Colony, Lahore was shot dead at midnight by unknown assailants.


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