On Easter Sunday, March 27, Gulshan Iqbal Park -located in the city of Lahore, Pakistan- was bombed.
The attack targeted Christians, and over 74 people were killed, and 341 more were injured, according to an article from CNN.com. Unfortunately, many of those who were killed and wounded were children.”A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had targeted Christians. The group vowed more such attacks” (CNN.com).
This is not the first attack on Christians in Pakistan. Last year in March, suicide bombers attacked a Christian community in Lahore and killed at least 14 people with more wounded as well. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, and then proceeded to attack yet another area of Lahore. This attack left at least 78 people wounded.
Christians only make up about 2% of the religions in Pakistan, and they have tense relations with the Muslim group that greatly outnumbers them.
One of the biggest issues in Christian-Muslim relations are the blasphemy laws. These laws “have often legitimized violence and judicial discrimination against the religious minorities in Pakistan” (Stateofformation.org). Because Christians are so outnumbered, even at 2 million people, it is easy for Muslims to accuse them of blaspheming, even if it is not an accurate accusation.
So what is to be done about all of this? According to Huffpost.com, “Security and government officials told Reuters that the decision had been made to launch a full-scale paramilitary Rangers operation, giving them powers to conduct raids and interrogate suspects.”
Security forces have raided Lahore, Faisalabad, and Multan in search of suspects of the bombing (CNN.com).
It has been almost a week since the attacks in Brussels, and I had hoped there would not be another attack for quite some time. Yet one week later another group of innocent people has been targeted. Pope Francis, in regards to the Pakistan bombing, “condemned the attack as “hideous” and demanded that Pakistani authorities protect religious minorities” (Huffpost.com). I could not agree more with this.
Because Pakistan is mostly made up of Muslims, there is a severe lack of protection for religious minorities such as the 2% of Christians living there. Is it surprising that a minority religion is being targeted? I do not think so, as this happens in many other areas of the world. This targeting of innocent people is horrendous, and needs to be stopped. But unfortunately, that is easier said than done. Sadly, terrorism will continue to be a threat until it is defeated, which is highly unlikely. I hope that someday soon we can all live in peace. But I fear that day is far in the future, if even possible.
“As Christians worldwide celebrate Easter, a shocking terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan, reminds us that terrorism is a global scourge.” – Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop