Pakistan Ambassador to UN moves on defamation of Islam and discrimination against Muslims criticized. ISCI briefing.


London. November 18. The Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity (ISIC), the educational arm of Barnabas Fund in ISIC briefing No 8 has discussed the following.

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn, in its internet edition of Friday, 25 October 2002, carried an article "UN action sought to stop Muslim bashing", ( which reported that Pakistan's Ambassador to the United Nations, Munir Akramm, had called on the United Nations to adopt a "Declaration on Religious and Cultural Understanding, Harmony and Cooperation" in order to put a stop to the "defamation of Islam and discrimination against Muslims", which in his words "represent the most notable demonstration of contemporary racism and intolerance". It is strange that at a time of terrorist attacks carefully targeted by Islamic militants on non-Muslim civilians around the world, at a time of increasing anti-Christian, anti-Jewish and anti-western propaganda emanating from various Muslim sources, the official representative of Pakistan can call for the launch of a UN campaign against the non-Muslim world. Presenting Muslims as the perennial victims of a worldwide conspiracy, he would seem to be operating on the understanding that "attack is the best form of defense". Pakistan especially ought to be cautious about accusing others of "Muslim bashing", as it has a long history of legally discriminating against its own Christian and other non-Muslim minorities. A long process of Islamization, initiated soon after independence, has meant a rejection of the secularist and Pluralist vision of its founder (Muhammad Ali Jinnah). It has established a category of second-class citizens based on religion, and has permitted Islamic extremism to gain a hold in an atmosphere in which the majority population accepts discrimination and violence towards Christians as normal. Various Pakistani governments have also encouraged jihadist groups in Afghanistan and Kashmir, allowing them to build up supportive networks in Pakistan itself, thus furthering the radicalization of the population in the direction of militant Islam. Christians in Pakistan have recently endured a series of brutal attacks by Islamic militants on churches, a Christian school and Christian hospital and other Christian organizations, in which many have been killed and wounded including women and children. The Christian community in Pakistan feels itself under siege, as it has become the innocent victim of Muslim rage over the US attacks on the Taliban and al-Qa'ida, viewed by many as a war against Islam. Here is a partial list of recent attacks on Christians in Pakistan: 29 October 2001 - seventeen Christians, including six children, massacred at prayers in St Dominic's Church in Bahawalpur, Punjab; 17 March 2002 - five killed in a grenade attack on a church in Islamabad; 5 August 2002 - six shot dead and five Wounded at Murree Christian School (40 kilometers north-east of Islamabad); 9 August 2002 five nurses killed in a grenade attack on a missionary hospital in Taxila (40 kilometers north-west of Islamabad); 25 September 2002 - seven killed in attack on the offices of the Christian charity "Institute for Peace and Justice" in Karachi. Pakistan's independent human rights commission has recently warned of the growing militancy and intolerance in Pakistan expressed in attacks on Christians, sectarian Sunni/Shi'i fighting and violence towards women. The Musharraf government has tried to protect Christian institutions and to crack Down on violent groups, but it faces strong Islamist pressures within its own ranks and in the wider public. Ordering the Pakistani UN ambassador to castigate Muslim bashing looks more like a political maneuver to curry favor with Islamists back home and divert attention from Pakistan's internal troubles.

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