Open Letter to the U.S. Embassy in Vienna and at the Holy See
(also to media and relief organizations)
Excellency Mrs. Victoria Reggie Kennedy, Excellency Joe Donnelly and esteemed Mrs. Jill Donnelly!
It is time to act! What has been happening in Pakistan for years has now reached a horrific climax: Pakistan, Jaranwala, since August 16: 40 km from the major city of Faisalabad, a journey of suffering began last Wednesday for the city’s Christians. Leaders of a fundamentalist political party and local Muslim leaders incited a mob of mostly young Muslim men, and some 7,000 Muslims stormed the city’s Christian quarter. Police responded sluggishly and could not prevent 21 Christian churches from being burned. The mob destroyed Christian homes and desecrated the Christian cemetery. Christians were driven from their homes. Fearing Friday prayers in the mosques, where new calls for the murder of Christians could be expected, they fled to the surrounding fields and forests. There they spend the nights unprotected in the open, always in fear of henchmen. Witnesses reported messages from mosques broadcast over loudspeakers calling on them to go out and kill Christians.
As always in such cases of hostility toward Christians in Pakistan, the reason for this religious violence was a false accusation against Christians of disobeying the Quran. It has been shown time and again that these accusations have no basis in fact. Christians are an easy target for these false accusations because they are considered defenseless members of a religious minority in Pakistan.
These are the same Muslims who cry out loudly when a page of the Quran is even defiled and who know no stopping when (what we denounce as equally false) a Quranic book is burned in Europe. For their part, however, they unabashedly burn entire churches, burn Bibles, desecrate tabernacles.
As always in the past, the police sit back. Politicians issue useless appeasements. Nothing changes. Now enough is enough.
That is why Christians in Need asks you as US Embassadors to demand and support real reforms, because of US’s good relations with Pakistan. The vicious circle of instrumentalizing a religion to persecute Christians and Hindus can only be broken if the culprits are sought and brought to justice. This requires a fearless judicial system and a cooperating police force. Pakistan’s judiciary has proven this time and again in the past. Therefore, our help must go to preserving the independence of the judiciary and the training of lawyers and judges.
In order to secure the future, further steps must be taken
In order to achieve a peaceful coexistence of religions and cultures, every effort must be made in Pakistan, too, to teach children about the diversity of religions in tolerance and mutual respect, starting with school education in public schools and also in madrassas.
We put our highest trust in the constitutional bodies of the Islamic Republic and ask You to support Pakistan in the rapid and comprehensive improvement of the primary education system.
We are sure that no responsible politician of Pakistan would condone a hounding of Christians or other minorities. We agree with former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif who said that the Christian community shed blood and voted for the creation of Pakistan and that their sacrifices should not be in vain.
Through our own Doctors on Wheels programs, we provide a Christian response of love to hate. In the midst of the anti-Christian violence in Punjab, St. Elizabeth Hospital Hyderabad continues to provide medical care to the impoverished Pakistani Muslim, Hindu and Christian rural population in rural Sindh through its mobile medical aid program, supported by Christians in Need and the many national and international donors.
We ask You to do everything in your power to stand by the victims of this hunt for Christians and to support the Pakistani government in setting the course for a peaceful coexistence of religions in Pakistan through the judiciary and the education system.
Trusting in your support for Pakistan in this difficult hour
Secretary General Prof. Dr. Elmar Kuhn