Marrakesh Declaration on the Rights of Religious Minorities in Predominantly Muslim Majority Countries + Pakistan Christians Demand Protection
Date: April 18, 2016
Scroll down to Marrakesh Declaration on the Rights of Religious Minorities in Predominantly Muslim Majority Countries.
PAKISTAN – CHRISTIANS DEMAND PROTECTION – WOMEN
Family members mourn as they gather near the body of a relatives killed in Lahore blast on March 27.
Already living under the shadow of discriminatory laws and social exclusion, Pakistan’s impoverished and long-suffering Christian minority now find themselves in the crosshairs of Islamist extremists.
Following an attack in the eastern city of Lahore that saw at least 73 people killed this past Easter Sunday, Pakistani Christians say they feel extremely vulnerable and have called for government protection.
The attack on March 27 took place in a park in eastern Pakistani city, where churches were also targeted by Pakistani Taliban factions last year.
“Until recently, terrorists were not so focused on our community. But now, all their attention is on us,” said Irshad Ashnaz, the vicar of Lahore’s Christ Church. “Perhaps it is time now for the [Pakistani] government too to turn their attention to us.”
Zubaida Masih lost her 16-year-old son, Wasif Masih, in Lahore’s Gulshan-e Iqbal park bombing on March 27. She blamed lax security at the park for her loss.
“This happened just because of a lack of security. What else can we say? If there had been stronger security measures, this would not have happened,” she said.
Masih said the authorities provided some security to Christian churches after 15 worshippers were killed in bomb attacks on two churches in Lahore’s Christian neighborhood, Youhanabad, on March 15, 2015.
“There were security measures at churches but not in parks,” she said.
Pakistan’s estimated 3 million Christians are a tiny minority in a country of 200 million Muslims. Their ancestors were low-caste Hindus who converted to Christianity in the 19th century, and today Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are frequently misused against them. Mostly relegated to sanitation jobs, Christians and other non-Muslim minorities are barred from holding high office.
In recent years, Christian communities have endured mob violence and terrorist attacks. More than 80 worshippers were killed in an attack on a 130-year-old church in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar in September 2013. In March that year, a Muslim mob burned 170 houses, 16 shops, and two churches in a Christian neighborhood in Lahore.
The city is the capital of eastern Punjab Province, where most of Pakistani Christians are concentrated. In one of the worst riots against Christians in Punjab, eight people were burned alive when a mob torched an entire village in 1997, which rendered its 20,000 residents homeless.
Following the recent bombing, Pope Francis has called on Islamabad to protect its Christian citizens.
“I appeal to civil authorities and all sectors of [Pakistan] to make every effort to restore security and serenity to the population, and in particular to the most vulnerable religious minorities,” he told pilgrims at St. Peter’s Square on March 28.
Pakistani authorities, however, are adamant they are doing everything they can to protect Christians and other minorities.
Balighur Rehman, a state minister for the interior, said Pakistan’s religious minorities do not feel particularly vulnerable.
“Pakistani minorities understand they are not the only targets of the terrorist attacks,” he told Radio Mashaal. “Our mosques, funerals, and other soft targets have been hit, as well.”
Islamabad appears to have launched a massive crackdown against Taliban sympathizers in the eastern Punjab Province, which has traditionally escaped large-scale military operations — the hallmark of Pakistani counterterrorism efforts in the restive northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.
Authorities have so far questioned thousands and detained hundreds as part of its investigation into the Lahore attacks.
Critics, however, still point out Islamabad’s unwillingness to go against all militants operating out of its territory.
On March 28, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif again repeated the familiar government mantra of going after all terrorists.
“Today, I am addressing you to renew my vow that we are accounting for each and every drop of the blood of our martyrs,” he said in a televised address. “This score is being settled, and we will not sit comfortably until until the last score is fully settled.”
There is, however, little solace for Pakistani Christians in such pledges. Thirty-fiveyearold driver Nadeem Gul, who survived the Lahore attack, says Christians are afraid to celebrate.
“We have had to learn to live with fear,” he told The Guardian. “Every time there is a religious festival, we Christians feel a looming sense of threat. We cannot be happy on our holy occasions.”
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Subject: Marrakesh Declaration on the Rights of Religious Minorities in Predominantly Muslim Majority Countries
MARRAKESH DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN PREDOMINANTLY MUSLIM MAJORITY COUNTRIES
Also Via Human Rights Without Frontiers
About the Marrakesh Declaration
HRWF (28.01.2016) – Under the patronage of King Muhammad VI of Morocco, the scholars, muftis, academics and government ministers from Muslim countries around the world have agreed a significant statement entitled The Marrakesh Declaration.
The Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco and the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies based in the UAE, jointly organised the conference, which after three days of intense work and exchange of ideas, histories, theological, legal and textual information, has resulted in a remarkable and historic agreement.
In recent years the world has seen brutal atrocities inflicted upon religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries. Many members of minority groups have been victims of murder, enslavement, forced exile, intimidation, starvation, and other affronts to their basic human dignity. The Marrakesh Declaration contends that such actions have no relation to Islam.
An Executive Summary of the Marrakesh Declaration is below.
MARRAKESH DECLARATION EXECUTIVE SUMMARY – RIGHTS OF RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN PREDOMINANTLY MUSLIM MAJORITY COUNTRIES
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate
Executive Summary of the Marrakesh Declaration on the Rights of Religious Minorities in Predominantly Muslim Majority Communities
25th-27th January 2016
WHEREAS, conditions in various parts of the Muslim World have deteriorated dangerously due to the use of violence and armed struggle as a tool for settling conflicts and imposing one’s point of view;
WHEREAS, this situation has also weakened the authority of legitimate governments and enabled criminal groups to issue edicts attributed to Islam, but which, in fact, alarmingly distort its fundamental principles and goals in ways that have seriously harmed the population as a whole;
WHEREAS, this year marks the 1,400th anniversary of the Charter of Medina, a constitutional contract between the Prophet Muhammad, God’s peace and blessings be upon him, and the people of Medina, which guaranteed the religious liberty of all, regardless of faith;
WHEREAS, hundreds of Muslim scholars and intellectuals from over 120 countries, along with representatives of Islamic and international organizations, as well as leaders from diverse religious groups and nationalities, gathered in Marrakesh on this date to reaffirm the principles of the Charter of Medina at a major conference;
WHEREAS, this conference was held under the auspices of His Majesty, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, and organized jointly by the Ministry of Endowment and Islamic Affairs in the Kingdom of Morocco and the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies based in the United Arab Emirates;
AND NOTING the gravity of this situation afflicting Muslims as well as peoples of other faiths throughout the world, and after thorough deliberation and discussion, the convened Muslim scholars and intellectuals:
DECLARE HEREBY our firm commitment to the principles articulated in the Charter of Medina, whose provisions contained a number of the principles of constitutional contractual citizenship, such as freedom of movement, property ownership, mutual solidarity and defense, as well as principles of justice and equality before the law; and that,
The objectives of the Charter of Medina provide a suitable framework for national constitutions in countries with Muslim majorities, and the United Nations Charter and related documents, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are in harmony with the Charter of Medina, including consideration for public order.
NOTING FURTHER that deep reflection upon the various crises afflicting humanity underscores the inevitable and urgent need for cooperation among all religious groups, we
AFFIRM HEREBY that such cooperation must be based on a “Common Word,” requiring that such cooperation must go beyond mutual tolerance and respect, to providing full protection for the rights and liberties to all religious groups in a civilized manner that eschews coercion, bias, and arrogance.
BASED ON ALL OF THE ABOVE, we hereby:
Call upon Muslim scholars and intellectuals around the world to develop a jurisprudence of the concept of “citizenship” which is inclusive of diverse groups. Such jurisprudence shall be rooted in Islamic tradition and principles and mindful of global changes.
Urge Muslim educational institutions and authorities to conduct a courageous review of educational curricula that addresses honestly and effectively any material that instigates aggression and extremism, leads to war and chaos, and results in the destruction of our shared societies;
Call upon politicians and decision makers to take the political and legal steps necessary to establish a constitutional contractual relationship among its citizens, and to support all formulations and initiatives that aim to fortify relations and understanding among the various religious groups in the Muslim World;
Call upon the educated, artistic, and creative members of our societies, as well as organizations of civil society, to establish a broad movement for the just treatment of religious minorities in Muslim countries and to raise awareness as to their rights, and to work together to ensure the success of these efforts.
Call upon the various religious groups bound by the same national fabric to address their mutual state of selective amnesia that blocks memories of centuries of joint and shared living on the same land; we call upon them to rebuild the past by reviving this tradition of conviviality, and restoring our shared trust that has been eroded by extremists using acts of terror and aggression;
Call upon representatives of the various religions, sects and denominations to confront all forms of religious bigotry, vilification, and denigration of what people hold sacred, as well as all speech that promote hatred and bigotry; AND FINALLY,
AFFIRM that it is unconscionable to employ religion for the purpose of aggressing upon the rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries.
27th January 2016