By Terry Glavin, the Ottawa Citizen
Last Sunday in Pakistan, a mob rampaged through a ghetto of the minority Muslim Ahmadi sect in Gujranwala City, looting and setting fire to houses and shops. A 55-year-old woman and her two granddaughters were burned to death. The pogrom was triggered by local Sunni clerics who said they were enraged by a “blasphemous” photograph that an 18-year-old Ahmadi man posted on his Facebook page.
If you are an Ahmadi in Pakistan, you can be sent to prison for calling yourself a Muslim, for greeting a fellow Muslim with the traditional Salaam Aleikum, for preaching your faith and for even calling your mosque a “mosque.” Over the past quarter-century, nearly 700 Pakistanis have been charged with blasphemy. More than 50 of of these accused blasphemers were murdered before their cases were heard by a judge. Twenty were given life sentences, and 16 others are on death row.
Around the same time as the Gujranwala pogrom, hundreds of fighters from the Islamist Boko Haram militia, best known for having kidnapped and enslaved more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls last April, were looting and burning Kolofata, a town in Cameroon. They murdered at least three people before withdrawing back across the border into Nigeria with several hostages, including the wife of Cameroon’s deputy prime minister Amadou Ali, a local mayor and five members of his family.
On Monday, the Chinese government’s noose-tightening repression of religious minorities sparked riots in the Kashgar prefecture of the country’s northwestern Xinjiang region that subsided only after Chinese troops opened fire and killed dozens of Muslim Uyghurs, and Beijing’s policy of persecuting Uyghurs, Tibetans and Falun Gong practitioners is now being extended in a new clampdown on the country’s 60 million Christians. Authorities have recently issued demolition orders to about 100 churches, instructing congregations to remove crosses from church buildings.