Church officials condemn killing of rights activist

May 11, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Pakistani ChristiansKarachi, May 9, 2016: Church officials have condemned the assassination of a prominent human rights activist, senior journalist and scholar in Karachi at the weekend.

Syed Khurram Zaki, 40, was shot several times while sitting outside a roadside restaurant on May 7. He died later in hospital.

Four gunmen on motorbikes pulled up outside the restaurant, shot Zaki and then sped away, Arib Mehr, a senior police officer, told ucanews.

“It appears to be a sectarian attack,” Mehr said.

A Taliban faction claimed responsibility, saying Zaki was killed for making statements criticizing Islamabad’s Red Mosque cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, who was widely condemned in 2014 for for refusing to denounce a massacre at a school in Peshawar in which at least 135 children were killed.

Zaki, editor of Let Us Build Pakistan, a website that condemns Takfiri ideology and extremism, was known for his vocal and bold support for religious minorities.

The slain activist led a series of protests in Karachi last year after two Catholic churches were bombed by Taliban groups in Lahore, killing at least 15 people.

He set up a protest camp at Karachi’s busy Numaish Roundabout to express solidarity with the minority Christian community.

Father Saleh Diego, director of the bishops’ National Commission for Justice and Peace and vicar general of the Karachi Archdiocese, who took part in Zaki’s protest camp, condemned the killing.

“Human rights defenders are being killed blatantly and the state is silent; the injustice must stop,” he told ucanews.com on May 8.

“We demand the immediate arrest of the murderers”, said the priest.

“He was always with us … whenever church groups protested against persecution and church attacks. It seems extremists are hell bent on ending voices who support religious minorities.”

Hundreds of people carried his coffin to the office of the Sindh chief minister on May 8 to stage a protest and call for the arrest of his killers.

Zaki’s wife said extremist groups had repeatedly threatened her husband.

“He would always raise his voice against terrorism. Now he himself has gone from this world. I ask you all [the media] to please raise your voice so that his killers are punished.”

“Our whole family is still under threat. But we haven’t been offered any security by the government,” she said.

– ucan

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