Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

The Church in Pakistan is scared. Revenge attacks will come as no surprise
Pakistani Christians are held responsible for the actions of the West: it would not be the first time they have been made scapegoats

By Nasir Saeed
05/06/2011 Pakistan (Catholic Herald)-Monday, May 2, was a historic day for America, the day when its most wanted man, Osama bin Laden, was finally found and killed by the US army. While the news was welcomed by leaders around the world, it has been harder to digest in Pakistan. There are conspiracy theorists and sceptics everywhere, including in the US, but flicking through the channels on Pakistani television and listening to the many journalists and security experts offer their analysis, it is apparent that there is considerable scepticism in Pakistan over whether Bin Laden has really been killed.

The media has been further critical of the government’s reticence since news of Bin Laden’s death broke. Instead of coming before journalists and the cameras to clarify the situation, government officials have been nowhere to be seen, leaving many of us wondering whether they even know what’s going on.

The most important question that everyone is asking, however, is whether bin Laden’s death will reduce terrorism. I have my doubts. An oft repeated statement in the last few days has been that the world is a safer place without him. That may turn out to be true in the long run but, in terms of the foreseeable future, the threat of a terrorist attack on the US, UK and other parts of the western world is severe.

Despite having nothing to do with Bin Laden’s death, Pakistani Christians are also now extremely fearful of a backlash. If the Taliban attack their churches and properties, it would come as no surprise as Christians have tended to be the targets for acts of vengeance whenever the West has invaded a Muslim country. In the aftermath of 9/11 and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, Islamic militants launched deadly attacks on churches and institutions. Christians were killed in cold blood as they worshipped or went about their daily business. There will no doubt be many more as the war on terror continues.

Indeed, the Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Lahore, Lawrence Saldanha, expressed grave concerns about the safety of Pakistan’s Christians. “Christians could face a backlash and we are a soft target as they cannot attack America. We demand security. The government should control any retaliation,” he said.

The Church in Pakistan is scared and its leaders are crying out for greater security, particularly around churches. Even as I write this article, Christians are facing an extremely precarious situation in Gujranwala, where tensions are threatening to boil over after Christians were accused of burning copies of the Koran. Mushtaq Gill and his son Farrukh were taken into police custody for questioning and found guilty. Muslims have reacted angrily, holding protests and vandalising Christian homes and a school. Some 3,000 Christians have fled the area in fear for their lives and the police have utterly failed to bring the situation under control.

The killing of Bin Laden will only increase hatred towards the US and towards Pakistani Christians, who are automatically responsible for the actions of the West simply because they share the same faith. It is my sincere hope that Christians in Pakistan are not made the scapegoats once again, as the archbishop fears, and that the world does indeed become safer and more peaceful without Osama bin Laden.

[Go to the Full Story]