Albany Times Union (Albany, NY)
November 3, 2001
Byline: SHELVIA DANCY Religion News Service
WASHINGTON — Several Muslim organizations have denounced the murders Sunday of more than a dozen Christians in Pakistan.

At least 16 worshipers and one Muslim police officer guarding St. Dominic’s Roman Catholic Church in Bahawalpur died when several men opened fire inside the building. The U.S. Muslim groups expressed their sorrow “that some lawless elements have violated the sanctity of a place of worship and the rights of minorities in Pakistan.”
“Freedom of worship is a basic right in Islam, and protection of religious minorities and houses of worship is a fundamental obligation of Muslim governments,” said the letter from the American Muslim Council, the Islamic Society of North America, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Circle of North America. “We support the government of Pakistan in its stated commitment to apprehend the criminals and punish them according to the law.”
A recent State Department report on international religious freedom claimed the government of Pakistan “failed in many respects to protect the rights of minorities, due both to public policy and unwillingness to alienate certain society forces hostile to those that practice a different faith.”
The attacks are “the most recent example of thousands of Christians who have been killed and persecuted by those instigated or supported by Islamist terrorist networks in Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Indonesia, and the Philippines,” said Nina Shea, director of the Freedom House Center for Religious Freedom.
“The intensification of persecution of Christians and other non-Muslims by radical Islamists over the past five years has been amply documented,” Shea said.

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