PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN :– The Christian residents of the Pakistani city of Peshawar, the provincial capital of North-West Frontier Province, have received letters, asking them to convert to Islam or else face suicide bombing.
The Christian residents of Charsadda and Mardan in the conservative NWFP province had in May received unsigned threatening letters that forced many Christians to flee to places of safety.
After the passage of three months, many Christian residents of Tailgodom, Sandagodom and Goalgodom in Peshawar city, received three letters threatening them with suicide bombing if they did not convert to Islam.
“These letters sent a wave of fear and uncertainty among the Christian residents of these said areas,” Kamran George, a minority member of the district government Peshawar told ANS.
He said the residents of the Christian compounds of Tailgodom, Sandagodom and Goalgodom, each housing some 2000 Christians,” received the threatening letters on August 7.
“Through this open letter you are openly invited to convert to Islam and quit Christianity, the religion of infidels,” the letter began.
It continued, “Ensure your place in heaven by coming into the fold of Islam. We will wipe out your slum on next Friday, August, 10th, 2007. And you, yourself would be responsible for the destruction of your men and material. Get ready! This is not a mere threat, our suicide bombers are ready to wipe out your name and signs from the face of earth. Consider it be the Knock of Death.”
Hundreds of angry Christians staged a press demonstration on August 8 demanding that the government apprehend the perpetrators and provide them with security, said Kamran George.
Slum where many of the Christian residents of Peshawar live
He maintained that the Christian residents of the said areas received yet another letter, which he said was written in reaction to the US Presidential candidate Tom Tancredo’s suggestion that Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina could be bombed in retaliation for a terrorist nuclear attack.
The letter, written in Urdu, Pakistan’s national language, stated: “We would be pleased to send those to Hell who dared casting malicious eye on Khana Kaba (Mecca, Saudi Arabia) and Prophet’s Mosque (Medina, Saudi Arabia). There is death here (in Pakistan) for the agents and followers of the religion of Americans (Christians).
“We would wipe out the Churches from the face of the earth because our mosques, seminaries and children are being martyred on the directions of United States. We would write a new history with the blood of Infidels. Our suicide bombers, lovers of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) are ready to strike churches, to protect the sanctity of Mecca and Medina, and pride of Islam.
“These suicide bombers would strike at any time or day. It is our first and foremost Jihad (Islamic Holy war) to assassinate and eradicate the infidels from the face of earth.”
Some 10 police officials have now been deployed in the three compounds of Christians that received the letters. Religious fanatics hold sway in the conservative and volatile NWFP province and a surge in extremism followed storming of Islamabad’s Red Mosque or Lal Masjid.
Minority Member of District Government Peshawar, Kamran George
A couple of days ago, a Minority Member of Parliament, Pervaiz Masih, raised the issue of threatening letters in the Lower House of Pakistan Parliament, the National Assembly. Masih read the copy of the letter in the National Assembly and called on the government to take note of the insecurity it had created among Christian residents of Peshawar.
The minority member of district government Peshawar however was of the view that Peraviz should have come to talk to the Christian residents.
“It would have come as a great encouragement to the scared Christians if Pervaiz Masih had come to talk to them,” said Kamran George.
He disclosed that a few days ago when they were holding a meeting in St. John Catholic Church in Peshawar, when a man dressed in Shalwar Qameez, Pakistan’s national dress, managed to get inside. He said the man fled after he saw police officials in the Church premises.
“Though August 10, the original deadline for conversion has passed yet Christians continue to live in a state of fear,” he said.
“The letters threatening Peshawar Christians to convert to Islam is shocking. This will augment the sense of deprivation and insecurity among religious minorities,” said Rays of Development Chief Ferhan Mazher.
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