The World Council of Churches (WCC) has received with great distress the news of the attack against Christians by a Muslim mob who burned more than 170 houses owned by members of the Christian minority community in the Badami Bagh area of Lahore.
This is part of a series of attacks targeted against Christian minority communities in different parts of the country. These attacks have caused unimaginable human suffering. We share the pain of hundreds of innocent families who have become victims of atrocious acts, and we deplore such actions.
We view this targeting of Christians within the context of Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws, frequently used to persecute religious minorities or settle personal disputes. Social persecution, discrimination and violence against religious minorities have become particularly widespread in Punjab province. These acts of violence and persecution of innocent people from minority Christian communities deserves to be condemned by all peace-loving people in the country.
The WCC is deeply disturbed by the present environment of religious intolerance and religiously linked violence that seems to be growing in Pakistan. In September 2012 the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) of the WCC organized a public hearing on “Misuse of the Blasphemy Law and Rights of Religious Minorities in Pakistan” in Geneva.
The communique produced by the hearing stated unequivocally: “We believe that the role of religion is to create a climate of peace, stability, tolerance, reconciliation and respect for human dignity and the human rights of all people and not to promote conditions that create intolerance and hatred. The core values of all religions teach values of justice, peace, reconciliation, equality and human dignity. The adherents and leaders of all religions have the moral responsibility to promote and protect peace with justice and human dignity.”
It is heartening that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan has taken notice of the attack on Christians and has called on high officials of Provincial Government to address the concerns of persecuted Christian minorities. However, we are of the opinion that Pakistan’s federal and provincial authorities should take a firm decision to undertake actions that introduce effective law enforcement mechanisms to protect all religious minorities.
We request you to convey our deep concern and sympathy for the victims of the wanton attacks upon the Badami Bagh community, and especially for persons who have lost their homes and are living in camps and temporary shelters.
Be assured of our continuous prayers and solidarity with the Christians of the Badami Bagh community in Lahore.
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretary