Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pregnant Christian Woman Burnt to Death in Pakistan - Please PRAY

ASIA NEWS REPORT: "I saw my niece burn alive." The dramatic story of an attack on Ahmadis in Punjab 
by Jibran Khan
Arslan Shahyar describes the pain of the terrible death of a young, pregnant woman, in the fire that destroyed her home. Extremist madness unleashed by an alleged case of blasphemy. The solidarity of Christians. Ahmadis take to the streets to demand justice. But in Pakistan there are still cases of abuse and violence against minorities. 

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - "It was the worst night of my life. I saw my niece burned alive. And she was also pregnant, what could she possibly be guilty of?": Arslan Shahyar describes the pain and suffering of his family to AsiaNews. He is the uncle of the Ahmadi woman killed on July 27 in Punjab by an angry mob that attacked and set fire to some houses in the area as a result of an alleged accusation of blasphemy.
"It was barbaric" echoes Asma Bibi, who says there are no words to describe "the pain we feel seeing the baby die, right before our eyes". At the end of July in Gujranwala, Islamic extremists set fire to several houses belonging to members of the Muslim minority, persecuted because they do not recognize Muhammad as the last prophet.
Political institutions and local authorities were unwilling to condemn the assault, denying the violence; at least four people were killed in the attack, including two children, one of whom was seven years old and the other only eight months, several others were wounded.
Victims' relatives want justice, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears. "Where is the law?" demands Asma Bibi, who bursts into tears and lays the blame with the authorities who "are unable to protect us." Fr. John Aslam, a priest in Gujranwala, condemned the incident and has brought the support and prayers of Christians to the family affected by the tragedy. Human rights activist Aqeel Mehdi says similar cases of violent episodes "becoming increasingly frequent" and authorities "fail to take the necessary measures to protect minorities."
Founded in India in the late 19th century, the Ahmadi doctrine is considered "heretical" by much of the Muslim world, both Sunni and Shiite. It honors its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, and has beliefs related to other religions. In Pakistan, the law bans followers from using Islamic greetings and prayers, and to refer to their places of worship as "mosques".  This is why the Ahmadis as a community - together with Christians - are often the victims of the blasphemy laws used to persecute minorities.
Yesterday morning the Ahmadi community in Gujranwala, along with activists and members of civil society, took to the streets in protest. The attack was sparked by an allegedly blasphemous photo posted on Facebook by a boy belonging to the Muslim minority. Some local extremists have tried to capture him, then decided to strike the whole family by setting fire to the house in which he lived.
This is the latest in a long list of cases of sectarian violence against an entire community, sparked by an alleged case of blasphemy. Similar incidents have occurred in the past in Lahore, Pasrur, Shanti Nagar and Korian. On July 31, the local Christian community marked five years since the dramatic Gojra massacre, also triggered by a dispute related to the "black law" and abuse that it causes.
According to a report prepared by the Life For All Pakistan activist movement, in the last six months there have been attacks of various kinds - rapes, murders, forced conversions, kidnappings - against Shia (150 cases), Hazara (23) Hindu (45) Sikhs (21) Christian (66), Ahmadi (22) and other minorities (13).

In 2013 at least a thousand Hindu and Christian women were forced to marry to a Muslim and converted to Islam; again last year, at least 13 thousand Christians fled Pakistan for fear of attacks.

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