UCA News

Pakistan Church leaders deplore Quran burning

Violence against the nation's religious minorities, including Christians, increases after desecrations abroad
Father James Channan, director of the Dominican Peace Center, speaking at the Interfaith Peace Conference in Islamabad on Jan. 25

Father James Channan, director of the Dominican Peace Center, speaking at the Interfaith Peace Conference in Islamabad on Jan. 25. (Photo: supplied)

Published: January 30, 2023 11:39 AM GMT
Updated: February 01, 2023 07:21 AM GMT

Church leaders in Pakistan have supported Muslims in the country, condemning the burning of copies of the Quran in Sweden and the Netherlands.

Thousands of Muslims rallied in Pakistan following the Friday prayers on Jan. 27 to denounce the desecration of the Muslim Holy Book in three separate incidents by far-right European leaders.

At least 12,000 people protested in the city of Lahore alone shouting slogans as part of a nationwide protest against the desecration of the Islamic holy book.   

“We lament the desecration and burning of the Quran in Sweden, and demand its government to bring the culprit to justice,” said Father James Channan, director of the Dominican Peace Center in Lahore.

The priest was addressing the Jan. 25 Interfaith Peace Conference in the capital Islamabad.

At the meeting, Pakistan president Arif Alvi, urged the international community to take necessary measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Muslims across Asia began protesting after reports of two incidents of Quran desecration began to emerge.

Reports said earlier this month, far-right activist Rasmus Paludan, who holds both Danish and Swedish citizenship received police permission to protest in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, where he burned the Quran.

A few days later,  far-right Dutch leader Edwin Wagensveld of Netherlands, tore pages of the Quran near the Dutch parliament and stomped on them.

On Jan. 27 Paludan repeated the desecration in front of a mosque in Copenhagen near the Turkish Embassy.

He said he will continue it every Friday until Sweden is admitted into NATO, media reports said.

Father Bonnie Mendes, the former regional coordinator of Caritas Asia, expressed sadness over the untoward incidents in Europe.

“We have to build bridges and inter-faith harmony. These incidents are very unfortunate. We must all condemn these incidents in the strongest possible terms,” he told UCA News.

Insult to Islam and its holy people is a burning issue in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where violence against minorities increases after desecrations abroad.

The Arab and Islamic worlds have condemned the burning. Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Jan. 29 tweeted to express his displeasure over the third incident of Quran's desecration.

“…The need for global unity to fight Islamophobia couldn't be more urgent than it is now.,” he stated.

During the inter-religious meeting in Islamabad, president Alvi gave away shields to two Christian leaders as a mark of appreciation for their work to promote interfaith peace and harmony in Pakistan.

The Christian leaders were Archbishop Christophe Zakhia El-Kassis, new papal ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, and Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio. 

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