Israeli forces detain a group of Arab Israelis in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod on May 13 during clashes between Israeli far-right extremists and Arab Israelis. (Photo: AFP)
A renowned human rights activist has warned Pakistani Christians against publicly supporting Israel and provoking a backlash from Muslims as tensions flare between Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli military.
“Irrespective of your religious teachings, remember that as citizens of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, your first loyalty is with the state, which doesn’t recognize Israel as a state. Showing such allegiance can cause you to stumble,” said Mary James Gill, director of the Center for Law and Justice, in a notification issued on May 12.
“Therefore at this time, as an expression of Christian love, express solidarity with Pakistani Muslims and respect their feelings. If it’s difficult, then remain silent. But please avoid slogans in favor of Israel.”
Gill referred to recent social media posts by several pastors urging prayers amid the crisis, which started with Israeli efforts to displace Palestinian families in occupied East Jerusalem. That sparked communal tensions within Israel, with Palestinian citizens staging protests in recent days.
“God is the Rock and shelter of Israel. Nothing can harm them while God himself fight against their enemies. Praying for the safety and protection of Israel,” stated Church of Pakistan pastor Saleem Khokhar on Facebook.
Social media pages including Pakistani Christians Voice for Israel also issued prayer requests for peace in Jerusalem. Earlier this month, Pastor Irfan James, a missionary, uploaded the Israeli flag as his Facebook cover photo.
Khan condemned the attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa mosque
Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan stands with the people of Palestine, denouncing the recent massacre in Gaza strip by Israeli forces. In a recent tweet, Khan condemned the attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa mosque in violation of "all norms of humanity and international law."
For decades, Christian groups in Pakistan have been campaigning and calling on the government to allow Christians to go on pilgrimages to religious sites in the Jewish state.
There are no formal diplomatic ties between the two countries and Pakistan forbids its citizens from going to the Holy Land. Israel is routinely denounced by Pakistani politicians for committing human rights violations against Palestinians. The Jewish state has in turn accused Pakistan of supporting Palestinian terror groups.