Monday, August 20, 2007

Convert or Die

But I thought there was no compulsion in religion.....

From Compass Direct:

Christians and Hindus in northern Pakistan have received dozens of letters threatening them with death if they refuse to become Muslims, church sources and a police official said yesterday. Police continued to provide security around churches and temples this week, even as Christians received new deadlines for converting to Islam.

Though the original August 10 deadline for conversion has passed, Peshawar’s minorities continue to live in fear, canceling church activities and skipping services, a Catholic priest said. “Embrace Islam and become Muslims … otherwise, after next Friday, August 10, your colony will be ruined,” read more than a dozen identical letters collected by the Church of Pakistan (COP) in Peshawar, 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of Islamabad...

Explaining that they were delivered to neighborhoods heavily populated by minority families living in small houses around a common courtyard, Dean [assistant director of communications for COP’s Peshawar diocese] said that the letters probably reached more than 100 Christians and Hindus.

A separate letter mailed to COP diocesan priest Joseph John threatened suicide attacks against churches...

Christian leaders immediately informed local police about the threats, prompting a meeting with City Police Chief Abdul Majeed Marwat on August 10. “The security in their areas has been beefed up around churches and other places of worship,” Marwat told Compass yesterday....

A Christian politician also brought the letter to the national government’s attention on Friday....“The speaker [of the house] took the matter very lightly and asked [Pervaiz Masih] to remind him about it in the presence of the interior minister,”

While some Christian sources told Compass that Peshawar police had done a good job providing security, others were hesitant to speak openly on the telephone for fear that their criticism would draw police anger.

“It’s just a hoax, I presume,” said Police Chief Marwat, explaining that a similar incident in May had turned out to be a teenage prank....

When asked why Christians did not pursue a court case against the Muslim youths, Dean said that their faith placed emphasis on reconciliation and that a court case could have backfired. “If we had been harsh, things would have escalated and gone against our interests,” said Dean. The cryptic comment reflects years of violent (though often isolated) incidents against Christians in Pakistan.

In November 2005, a mob of several thousand Muslims destroyed four churches, a convent and Christian schools in the Punjabi town of Sangla Hill after a Muslim accused a Christian of committing blasphemy. No one was held responsible for the attacks.

“We have experience of our [Christian neighborhoods] being attacked by extremists, so we took this very seriously,” Dean commented.

While there supposedly is no compulsion in religion and Christians and Jews have special status as people of the Book, these minority Christians and Hindus are being threatened to convert or die. As Christians have been attacked before with impunity, they are understandably wary even though the deadline has passed. Perhaps they're concerned that once police protection is lifted, they'll be harmed?

Also, can you imagine anyone in the U.S. fearing reprisals for complaining about the police? Complaining about authorities is practically a way of life for us.

h/t: Jihad Watch

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