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Christians in Pakistan fear reprisals in wake of military action

2001-283-5
10/3/2001
[Episcopal News Service]  With the prospect of military action by the United States in neighboring Afghanistan, the minority Christian community in Pakistan fears reprisals. 'The situation is very tense,' said Victor Azariah, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Pakistan. The NCCP issued a statement following an emergency meeting, urging the U.S. to 'exercise restraint and prudence,' fearing that an attack would put Pakistan's Christians in 'real danger.'

'From our experience, anti-Western protesters here always single out Christian targets to give vent to their anger,' said Azariah. He urged Christians to avoid any provocation of Muslim fundamentalists by debating military options. 'Whatever may be one's convictions, we need to be extremely careful these days,' he said. An attack would be regarded by many as an insult to Islam, said church leaders, and Christianity would be regarded as a symbol of the West.