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Facing threats over Quran burning, Pakistani Christians on edge as PM Sharif chooses appeasement over principles 

Christians in Pakistan are terrified over the Sweden Quran incident (Photo: @PastorAmanat/Twitter)

Fearful Christians have asked the Pakistan government for protection after Sunni terror group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) threatened to unleash suicide bombers on the community and its churches in the country.

The LeJ, a Sunni extremist organisation known for its brutal attacks on the Shia Muslims over the past three decades, recently announced that it will attack churches in Pakistan following the global ruckus over the burning of a Quran in Sweden on Eid.

Naeem Yousaf Gill of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, said the community has requested authorities to be on alert against the threat issued by the terror group LeJ this Sunday.

Christian website – Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) quoted Gill as saying: “As a religious minority, we live in brotherhood and peace and have always supported the majority. We can’t imagine violating sensitive laws”. Gill, who is also the executive director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, added that the church in Pakistan has condemned the desecration of the Quran in Sweden.

The Quran was burnt by Salman Momika, an Iraqi refugee in Sweden, outside a mosque in Stockholm last Friday on the Muslim festival of Eid. To add fuel to the fire, Momika has announced that he plans to burn another Quran within 10 days, sparking fury and frenzy across the Muslim world.

Meanwhile, Christians in other parts of Pakistan are meeting police officials to seek security for their institutions – churches, parishes, schools and convents.

Vatican News reported that Father Khalid Rashid Asi – director of the Faisalabad diocesan’s Commission for Interfaith Dialogue and Ecumenism, met police officials in Madina Town which is host to at least 4,000 Christians.

He recalled previous attacks on the Christians in 2009 in which LeJ supporters had attacked the minority group’s homes in Punjab, killing at least 10 Catholic Christians over allegations that a Quran had been desecrated.

Barely ten days back, radicals had targeted the Sikh community in Pakistan twice in two days.

Minorities in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan live in terror as they regularly face allegations, many unjustified, related to blasphemy under which people have been beaten to death and set on fire. Blasphemy means desecration of the Quran, perceived insult to the Prophet and disrespecting Allah. The

With a nearly 98 per cent Muslim population, Pakistan has the strictest blasphemy laws in the world, which if proven carry a death sentence.

Adding to the fears of the Christians are the protests that shook up Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday. Protestors burnt the Swedish flag outside the Peshawar Press Club and demanded that Pakistan end diplomatic relations with Sweden over the Quran incident.

Following in the footsteps of terror organisations and radical outfits, the Sharif government also decided to plunge into the controversy. Instead of calming down protesters and rein in terror outfits openly threatening to kill Christians, Sharif gave a call for a nationwide protest on Friday to uphold the ‘sanctity of the Quran’ and show the government’s resentment against Sweden.

Despite the country being mired in a deep political, economic and security crisis, the Prime Minister found the time to hold a meeting on the Sweden incident.

In a statement, Sharif’s party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that Friday, July 7, would be observed as Yaum-i-Taqaddus Quran (day to uphold the Holy Quran’s sanctity). Sharif also called upon the nation and all political parties to participate in the demonstration and take out rallies across the country to protest against Sweden.

With the Prime Minister himself turning into a rabble rouser instead of coming to the aid of the minority community, it is no wonder that Pakistani Christians live in fear of attacks.

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