Date of Event: April 21, 2013
By Samantha Long
On Sunday afternoon community members and leaders gathered at the Jaffarya Islamic Center in Amherst to raise awareness of the persecution of Shia, Ahmadi, and Christian minorities in Pakistan. The sectarian violence against these minorities by the Sunni Muslim majority has been ongoing and has escalated in 2013. Several bombings in Pakistan since the start of the year, including the most recent outside a mosque in Karachi and one in Balochistan have killed hundreds. Many are calling this human rights crisis ‘genocide’ and ‘ethnic cleansing.’
Among the speakers were Imam Muislim Chawla, Proferssor Faizan Haq, and Dr. Asgher Ali. All three spoke about the current crisis and their personal thoughts on what can be done to counteract it.
Dr. Ali shared several heartbreaking stories of individuals in Pakistan who have been murdered for being Shia. Dr. Ali also shared some alarming statistics. An estimated 25,000 people have been killed by sectarian violence in Pakistan since 1980.
A common theme among all three speakers was that of combatting the issue through the education of youth. Professor Haq noted that social interaction needs to happen at an early age, and we should be supporting interfaith youth programs both here in the United States and in Pakistan.
When the guest speakers finished there was a viewing an episode of Al Jazeera’s “The Stream” titled “Searching for Protection.” In this video Lisa Fletcher interviews both Major Nadir Ali o the Shia Hazara of Pakistan and Interior Minister of Pakistan Rehman Malik about why the Pakistani government has failed to provide protection for these minority groups.
To learn more about this issue and view “The Stream: Searching for Protection” click the link below.