Pak persecution of minorities worsens

December 7, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Swedish missionary gunned down in Pakistan

The Lahore-based lay protestant remains in critical condition.

Swedish Missionary Gunned down in PakistanPakistan, December 5, 2012: A lay Protestant Christian missionary was the victim of an attempted murder and is in critical condition in Jinnah hospital in Lahore, capital of the province of Punjab. Bargeeta Almby, 72, of Swedish nationality, was in her car when two armed men on a motorcycle approached and fired at heer repeatedly, hitting her in the chest.

The attack took place on Monday afternoon . The missionary has been working in Pakistan for over 38 years and, as local sources of Fides report, was fully integrated in the community. She is responsible for the social programs of a Christian Church, the Full Gospel Assemblies of Pakistan (FGA Church).

The Church is registered as a non-governmental organization, run by women, engaged in education and formation. Bargeeta Almby is responsible for an orphanage, works with disabled and poor children, runs a formation course in obstetrics and other technical subjects.

The police, who are looking into the case, are trying to determine the identity of the gunmen and the reason for the attempted murder. Pastor Liaquat Kaiser, head of the FGA Church, said that “it is a premeditated attack,” recalling that the woman “had not received threats.”

– ucan

Apologise to Hindus for demolishing temple: Pakistani daily

Women crying outside the demolishted temple in PakistanPakistan, December 5, 2012: Authorities must apologise to the Hindu community for demolishing a temple in Karachi and hurting their sentiments, a Pakistani daily said Wednesday.

An editorial in the Dawn said the demolition of a Hindu temple in Karachi’s Garden area Saturday raises disturbing questions and is “a prime example of the callous attitude that officialdom often has towards this country’s non-Muslim citizens”.

“The authorities need to uncover the facts of the matter, especially regarding ownership, and apologise to the Hindu community for having hurt their sentiments by demolishing the temple.

“Even if the structure was illegally built, the community should be given an alternative site to build the temple. And if this is not the case and the demolition was illegal, then the temple should be rebuilt as it was,” the editorial said.

There is reportedly a dispute between a builder who claims to own the structure and the matter is in court. Yet the Pakistan Hindu Council and residents claim they were not given advance warning before the demolition squad showed up and that “religious objects were desecrated during the operation”.

Community members claim they have been living in the location for over a century. They say they have been harassed to vacate the land.

Though an official claims no place of worship was damaged in the `anti-encroachment’ operation, images in the media of Hindu idols surrounded by rubble “makes such denials questionable”.

The editorial said it was not assuming that the temple was deliberately targeted.

“Yet the matter should have been handled more tactfully considering the sensitivities, specifically the fact that a place of worship was involved.”

“Would such action have been taken if a mosque had been built on illegally occupied land instead of a temple?” the daily asked.

The daily pointed out that clumsily handled situations such as this only add to the discomfiture of minorities living in this country.

As it is, in many instances non-Muslims have hardly been given equal treatment in Pakistan and have been increasingly marginalised with the growth of extremism, it said and added that in such circumstances, disrespecting a non-Muslim place of worship only adds to the alienation.

– ians

Attackers desecrate Ahmadi cemetery

Family assaulted, 120 tombstones damaged in rampage

120 tombstones damaged in rampagePakistan, December 5, 2012: A family was assaulted and at least 120 tombstones desecrated in an attack on an Ahmadi graveyard on Monday in Lahore.

“They locked my family and some other relatives in a room. We were beaten, our hands were tied but the women and children were spared. Luckily I managed to call for help before they took my phone,” a gravedigger at the cemetery said yesterday.

“We heard tombstones being smashed and even saw one person through a window taking photos. This continued until gunshots were heard which scared them away,” added the gravedigger, who did not wished to be named.

Police have registered a first information report against 15 to 20 unknown attackers for attempted murder, trespassing, robbery and the desecration of at least 120 tombstones. But the local Ahmadi community is not confident any arrests will be made.

“The station house officer was not willing to accept our report. We were interrogated as if we were the culprits. It took five hours to convince them,” the gravedigger said.

The attack was another example of the persecution that Ahmadis have had to endure in Lahore over the years, community spokesman Salim ud Din said.

Many mainstream Muslims regard the Ahmadis as a heretical Islamic sect.

The Pakistan government declared them non-Muslims in 1974.

In the 1980’s Ahmadi graves were dug up and the bodies moved from the from the city’s main cemetery after the then military ruler General Zia-Ul-Haq effectively made it a crime for Ahmadis to do anything Islamic.

The situation in Lahore took a darker turn in 2010 when 88 Ahmadis were killed in separate attacks on the same day on two Ahmadi mosques.

– ucan

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