Gathered at the Dominicans Peace Centre, the religious leaders underline the terrorist and non-religious nature of the attack. The victims are 76, of which 17 Christians. The importance of staying united: "This violence seeks to spark new sectarian clashes, but we can stop them. We are not afraid of them".
Lahore (AsiaNews) - Muslim and Catholic religious leaders, came together to lead an interfaith vigil in memory of the 76 victims of the Easter attack. Hafiz Muhammad Nauman of the World Council of Religions told gathering of nuns and Christian activists this weekend (April 2) that "we always blame each her every time terror strikes the nation. Every Muslim who joins a terror group does not belong to our religion anymore. Terrorists are our common enemy; their religion is terrorism, not Islam. When they kill, they don't draw a line between Christian and Muslim victims”.
Nauman was among several clerics who addressed the Interfaith Memorial Service at Dominican Peace Center in Lahore. The speakers paid tribute to the victims of the March 27 suicide bombing that targeted Christians gathered for Easter in Lahore.
Psalms of sadness punctuated the program that started with recitation of Bible and Koran and concluded with lighting of candles in the memory of bomb victims.
A Muslim professor blamed ignorance and illiteracy for infecting young minds with fanaticism. "We have nothing to say but broken words. If you can't make this world heaven, there is no other. Religion is meant to be acted upon, not used for killing people. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and Islam also teaches brotherhood", he said.
According to Church sources, 17 Christians died and others remain in critical conditions in the hospitals. Fr. James Channan, director of the Peace center read out the names of all victims and demanded compensation for the affected families
"The attack on Easter is a conspiracy to spark sectarian fighting in the country but the religious leaders are united against terrorism. It is time to step outside; interfaith rallies on the streets can discourage the militants. We are not afraid of them", he said lauding clerics for observing a Day of Prayer in all the mosques this Friday. The Muslim speakers also announced a Day of Tolerance on Friday, April 8.
Safdar is a retired Captain and son-in-law of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He spoke against Ahmadi believers, who already are discriminated in Pakistan. A Muslim faithful: “An online petition will be launched.”
Journalists and activists criticise Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech after the Easter attack. For them, terrorists “are not afraid of slogans”. Public opinion wants more action, less talk, like the implementation of the National Action Plan. Military operations in Punjab are a failure.
For Nawaz Sharif, the country will be recognized as a "friend of minorities." Ahmadi Muslims however are considered heretical by Sunnis and Shias. And in December, an Ahmadi place of worship was attacked. The Government of Sindh rejects the law against forced conversions. Protests take place on the day Salman Taseer was remembered.
Protesters slam the government’s inability to fight Islamic extremism. “Despite government denials, there is evidence that Daesh is active in Pakistan. Banned organisations still operate freely in Punjab." After the National Action Plan was adopted, the legal system was not reformed. Military source blames “hostile intelligence agencies” for terrorism.
Maryam Nawaz is following in her father’s footsteps following his disqualification by the Supreme Court. She urges Catholics to support her in the extraordinary elections of September 17th. Bishop Shah prays for her sick mother and blesses her, sparking demands his resignation. "Christian leaders struggle to keep religion divided from the state."