FaithWorld

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Killings of Ahmadis unleashes fresh soul-searching over Pakistan’s identity

ahmadiIn a country which has suffered many bombings, the killing of more than 80 people in two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore last week has unleashed a particularly anguished bout of soul-searching in Pakistan, going right to the heart of its identity as an Islamic nation.

When he heard the news, wrote Kamran Shafi in Dawn, "I ran home and put on the TV and burst into tears, first of rage and a seething anger; and then of complete and utter helplessness and sadness. Shame on us."

"Tell me – is this a country that we can be proud of?,"  wrote Kalsoom on the blog Changing up Pakistan. "Pakistan was supposedly established as a homeland for Muslims, to free them of discrimination. This same country now allows persecution to continue not just unabated but often by the writ of the state."

"I am ashamed and disgusted."

As always happens at times of crisis, commentators called on the spirit of Pakistan's founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who in his first address to parliament in 1947 appealed for religious tolerance. "You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this state of Pakistan," he said. "You may belong to any religion or caste or creed. That has nothing to do with the business of the state."

"Is this Jinnah’s Pakistan? No," wrote Raza Rumi on his blog. "We have gone too far and pessimists are now saying that the process of destroying Pakistani society is irreversible. There is still hope that we shall overcome this menace if Pakistani public opinion is fashioned to look a little deeper inside and not find all sources of evil in Washington or Delhi. The electronic media has a critical role to play but lack of self-regulation and introspection is missing. If anything, we find more and more analysts and commentators siding with the militants."

Malaysia plans interfaith committee as tension rises

malaysia cross

Burn marks on the wall of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Petaling Jaya outside Kuala Lumpur January 9, 2010, one of several struck in a row over the use of the word "Allah"/Bazuki Muhammad

Malaysia will set up an interfaith committee to promote religious harmony, a cabinet minister said on Tuesday, after a series of religious disputes have fueled tensions in the mainly Muslim country.

The interfaith committee will look into religious groups’ disputes with one another and promote understanding among them, Koh Tsu Koon, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, was quoted by the online version of the Star newspaper as saying.

World Council of Churches says Pakistani Christians “live in fear”

pakistani-christians-1Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan live in fear of persecution and even execution or murder on false charges of blasphemy against Islam, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has said. The Council, the Geneva- based global body linking Protestant and Orthodox churches in 110 countries, has called on the Pakistani government to change a law promulgated by military ruler General Zia-ul-Haq that allows for the death penalty for blaspheming Islam. (Photo: Christians in destroyed home in Gojra, 2 Aug 2009/Mohsin Raza)

Since the law was adopted in 1986 religious minorities in the country have been “living in a state of fear and terror … and many innocent people have lost their lives,” the WCC said in a statement.

Pakistan is an overwhelmingly Muslim country where religious minorities account for roughly 4 percent — three quarters of whom are Christians — of its 170 million people.

from Tales from the Trail:

U.S. criticizes India on treatment of religious minorities

A U.S. commission is criticizing India for its treatment of religious minorities and has added it to a "watch list," annoying the South Asian country.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (there are probably other commissions around town that people never knew existed) placed India on its "watch list" because of the "disturbing increase in communal violence against religious minorities" and the inadequate response by the Indian government to protect their rights.

Countries on the watch list require "close monitoring," and India is now in the company of Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Laos, the Russian Federation, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey and Venezuela.