Minority faith leaders call on authorities to address problem
Christian and minority Muslim leaders have called on authorities to protect grave sites following the recent desecration of a Christian cemetery in Karachi. Police yesterday filed a preliminary report after vandals broke crosses, damaged coffins and shattered the skull of one of the deceased in a 25-year-old cemetery in Kashmir colony, home to 14,000 Christians. Father Saleh Diego, the parish priest, said the latest incident again suggested the involvement of gangs that have tried to seize areas where Pakistani minorities are buried. “The locals built a wall around the graveyard four years ago after the gangs occupied most of the land. They are trying to harass people and apparently have no respect for the dead,” said Fr Diego, the diocese director of the Catholic Bishop's National Commission for Justice and Peace. Pastors and priests in the area raised their concern over the incident during sermons on Sunday, he said, while community protection teams have visited the cemetery and held discussions with locals in a bid to address the problem. The incident follows a number of similar violations against the graves of deceased Ahmadis, a minority Muslim community regarded as heretical by orthodox Muslims. The latest Ahmadi annual report says that 29 of their members' graves have been desecrated and a further 57 dead denied burial since Pakistan passed a law prohibiting the Ahmadi, and other Muslim minority groups, in 1984. The act deems the Ahmadi to be “anti-Islamic” as the group does not consider Mohammed to be the final prophet. In condemning the vandalism in Kashmir Colony, Ahmadi spokesman Saleem ud Din noted that three of its community members’ graves were desecrated last year. “The state must protect minorities and their properties,” he said. “However, our situation is worse than Christians since we are targeted on religious grounds.” Related reports Christians worry about cemetery
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