Lahore: Christians express solidarity with Shiite community facing harassment

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Pakistan’ Christians says they stand in solidarity with the Shiite community over anti-Shiite harassment, as they continue to face harassment and persecution. “The government must take notice of Shia killings. Nobody has the right to force their beliefs upon others,” said Father Emmanuel Yousaf Mani.

Christian support Shiia community of Pakistan

Father Emmanuel Yousaf Mani who heads the Pakistani Catholic bishops’ National Commission for Justice and Peace, declared that anti-Shiite killings are alarming. “The state must protect all religious minorities,” he said. He stated that there is an imperative need for the Sunni Muslim clerics in the country to sermonize tolerance, he further added that the Sunni Muslim clerics should plainly condemn violence in the name of religion, which would help neutralize the extremist mindset.

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Since, May 11 Christians have been taking part with Shiite community in protests against the Shiite killings in Parachinar. The paramilitary police gunned down four Shiite Muslims on May 11, additionally nine other Shiites were killed in various sectarian attacks in Pakistan last month.

A Shiite outfit, Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen, claims that over 80,000 Shiites have been killed in the country since 1986.”We always blamed terrorists for the bloodshed but now a state institution has proven to be biased against us,” said Syed Muhammad Raza, spokesperson for Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen, Lahore chapter.Regardless of blistering heat, Shiite community continues to hold protesting camps. “Leaders of religious minorities and opposition parties have visited our camps because they believe our demands are genuine,” Raza said “but the federal government is still silent.”

Reverend Majid Abel of the Naulakha Presbyterian Church in Lahore said he can realize the difficulties Shiites are facing because Christians in Pakistan are also exposed to such violent attacks, in a similar way Hindus and Ahmadis, and other religious minorities are also susceptible. “There is a history of conflict,” he said.

Prominent Christian political leader Julius Salik, also voiced solidarity with the country’ Shiite community. He declared that the Pakistani constitution does not grants anyone the liberty to persecute others. Similarly, Islam, he mentioned does not bestows upon anyone the privilege to target members of other communities’ faiths. “It is about time leaders speak out and say that the country is meant for all sects. Targeting any religious faction is against the dignity of the state,” he said.