Pakistani bishop urges re-think of 'war on terror'

By agency reporter
September 10, 2009

A leading Pakistani bishop says that the 'war on terror' in Pakistan has had a negative effect on Christians in the Muslim-majority country, following further attacks on them.

Bishop Alexander John Malik of Lahore has spoken out against the attacks, pressing the government for a judicial inquiry into recent mob violence in which seven people were killed and more than 100 homes burned in a village near Gojra. It was the second such attack in a month.

"The fanatics are attacking minorities, which is a deplorable act. Government should take serious action against these extremists who are targeting Christians and burning their houses," said Malik in a statement published in The Nation, an English-language newspaper covering Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad.

He added: "It is the duty of the state to ensure that life and properties of minorities should remain safe from such fanatics."

Malik is in New York meeting with officials of the Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church, both of which are part of the Church of Pakistan.

On 8 September 2009 the bishop briefed the staff at the Episcopal Church Center, describing how the "war on terror" affects Christians in the Muslim world.

"In Muslim countries all Christians are Westerners and all Westerners are Christians," Malik said, adding that this mindset carries over from the belief that an attack on one Muslim country is an attack on all Muslim countries.

When President Barack Obama says that the war on terror being fought in Afghanistan and Iraq is not a "war on Islam," as he did in a 4 June speech in Cairo, Egypt, Muslims do not believe him, Malik said.

"The 'war on terror' needs to be reviewed and revisited," he said, following the briefing.

"To capture Osama [bin Laden] alive or dead will not benefit. Osama is an institution, an ideology of violence, terror and extremism. That ideology has to be replaced with another ideology."

Bishop Malik suggested the United States invest in education and "creating an awareness and plurality of views and religions," that creates space for others in the Muslim world.

Acknowledgements: Episcopal News Service, USA

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