Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
GET UPDATES FROM Farzana Hassan
 

Canada Must Do More to Protect These Persecuted Christians

Posted: 10/01/2013 6:47 pm

Westerners don't get it.

Christians in Muslim lands are mere dhimmis. This means they must pay the jizya tax or risk being slaughtered by radicals. This unfortunately is what happened in many parts of the Muslim world in recent weeks.

The Pakistani government has vowed to pursue the perpetrators but there's neither the will, nor the mechanism in place to bring these murderers to justice.

After the Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer and Minister Shahbaz Bhatti were assassinated in 2011, current Pakistani ambassador to the UN Sherry Rehman proposed reforms to Pakistan's blasphemy laws. But to date, nothing has changed. Furthermore, the situation has worsened beyond the mere abuse of an already discriminatory and obscurantist law.

This is no longer an issue of stray attacks on Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan. Radical and violent ideologies have taken root among the masses. These masses, once influenced by a mystical, Sufi, and syncretistic expression of Islam, have turned to orthodox radicalism that is vicious, doctrinaire and violent.

I visited Pakistan for a month in March this year. Two other massacres occurred even during that short period. While there was moral outrage over the killings of Christians among some circles, many did not hesitate to blame Christians for blaspheming Islam and inciting violence: A classic case of blaming the victims.

I believe the militant jihadist genie has been set free. Its therefore time for peaceful nations to intervene in countries like Pakistan and Nigeria where beleaguered Christian communities suffer on a daily basis. Boko Haram in Nigeria has carried out similar attacks on Christians in Nigeria.
It seems the Islamic world is embroiled in petty religious wars. Whether the war is between the forces of secularism and the religious right, or between "infidels" and Muslims, the ubiquity of violence in the Islamic world should be enough for global peace activists and governments to devise a strategy to quell the unrest.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the latest attack in Peshawar, Pakistan, stating it was taking revenge for US drone strikes. This comment is telling. Taliban schooled in a medieval worldview do not see past religious identities. Instead of viewing their Pakistani Christian citizens as fellow countrymen, they see them as an extension of the Christian West and therefore "the other." This is the bane of radical Islam that it aspires to transcend national boundaries to form a supra religious community of rabid religious bigots. Everything and everyone is viewed through the lens of religion.

I implore Western nations including Canada to take this matter more seriously. Minister John Baird and Religious Freedom Ambassador Andrew Bennet's condemnation of the attack urging Pakistani authorities to do more is not enough! The United Nations General Assembly must address this issue in its current deliberations. The world needs a unified strategy to protect Christians from Muslim fundamentalists.

Loading Slideshow...
  • A supporter of Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri poses with a victory sign at a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. Pakistani ministers held talks with a cleric leading a mass protest in Islamabad in an attempt to avert a political crisis and end a demonstration that has heaped pressure on the fragile government. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A supporter of Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri waves the national flag at a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. Pakistani ministers held talks with a cleric leading a mass protest in Islamabad in an attempt to avert a political crisis and end a demonstration that has heaped pressure on the fragile government. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Supporters of Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri gather at a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. Pakistani ministers held talks with a cleric leading a mass protest in Islamabad in an attempt to avert a political crisis and end a demonstration that has heaped pressure on the fragile government. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri addresses his supporters from his makeshift room at a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. Pakistani ministers held talks with a cleric leading a mass protest in Islamabad in an attempt to avert a political crisis and end a demonstration that has heaped pressure on the fragile government. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Supporters of Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri chant slogans at a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. Pakistani ministers held talks with a cleric leading a mass protest in Islamabad in an attempt to avert a political crisis and end a demonstration that has heaped pressure on the fragile government. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Supporters of Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri chant slogans at a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. Pakistani ministers held talks with a cleric leading a mass protest in Islamabad in an attempt to avert a political crisis and end a demonstration that has heaped pressure on the fragile government. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A supporter of Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri holds a placard at a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. Pakistani ministers held talks with a cleric leading a mass protest in Islamabad in an attempt to avert a political crisis and end a demonstration that has heaped pressure on the fragile government. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Supporters of Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri gather inthe rain at a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. Pakistani ministers held talks with a cleric leading a mass protest in Islamabad in an attempt to avert a political crisis and end a demonstration that has heaped pressure on the fragile government. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Supporters of Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri gather at a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. Pakistani ministers held talks with a cleric leading a mass protest in Islamabad in an attempt to avert a political crisis and end a demonstration that has heaped pressure on the fragile government. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Supporters of Pakistani moderate preacher Tahir-ul Qadri gather on the fourth day of a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. Pakistan's President intervened to stop authorities from using force against protesters who are calling for parliament to be dissolved in Islamabad's largest political rally in years. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A supporter of Pakistani moderate preacher Tahir-ul Qadri waves the national flag on the fourth day of a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. Pakistan's President intervened to stop authorities from using force against protesters who are calling for parliament to be dissolved in Islamabad's largest political rally in years. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Supporters of Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri gesture the victory symbol during a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. A populist Pakistani cleric calling for electoral reforms announced that a mass sit-in of tens of thousands of people camped outside parliament in Islamabad would end January 17. (FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Supporters of Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri gather in the rain during a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. A populist Pakistani cleric calling for electoral reforms announced that a mass sit-in of tens of thousands of people camped outside parliament in Islamabad would end January 17. (FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A supporter of Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri wears a plastic bag in the rain during a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. A populist Pakistani cleric calling for electoral reforms announced that a mass sit-in of tens of thousands of people camped outside parliament in Islamabad would end January 17. (FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A supporter of Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri enjoys the rain at a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. A populist Pakistani cleric calling for electoral reforms announced that a mass sit-in of tens of thousands of people camped outside parliament in Islamabad would end January 17. (FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Female supporters of moderate preacher Tahir-ul Qadri stand guard to protect sleeping women taking part in the fourth day of protests in Islamabad early on January 17, 2013. Pakistan's president on January 16 intervened to stop authorities from using force against protesters who are calling for parliament to be dissolved in Islamabad's largest political rally in years. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Supporters of Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri rest on the third day of the protest rally in Islamabad on January 16, 2013. A populist cleric Wednesday urged Pakistani politicians to join tens of thousands taking part in the largest protest in Islamabad for years, ratcheting up the pressure on the government to step down. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Pakistani students, civil society and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz party activists light candles in the favor of democracy in Lahore on January 16, 2013. Pakistan's main opposition leader Nawaz Sharif demanded January 16, that the government immediately announce a timetable for elections. (Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A supporter of Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri dances to drums on the third day of the protest rally in Islamabad on January 16, 2013. A populist cleric Wednesday urged Pakistani politicians to join tens of thousands taking part in the largest protest in Islamabad for years, ratcheting up the pressure on the government to step down. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Activists of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) burn tyres on a street at a protest rally in Lahore on January 16, 2013, against the Supreme Court order to arrest of the prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. Pakistan's top judge January 15, ordered the arrest of the prime minister over graft allegations, threatening to worsen turmoil as thousands of protesters demanded the government step down. (Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A Pakistani villager from the northwest mourns the death of a relative during a protest in the provincial capital Peshawar on January 16, 2013. Demonstrators said gunmen wearing military uniforms stormed homes in Bara Tehsil in Khyber Agency, some 30 kilometers from Peshawar and shot 18 villagers dead in an overnight raid. (A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Supporters of moderate preacher Tahir-ul Qadri rest on the third day of a protest rally in Islamabad on January 16, 2013. Pakistani protesters rallied for a third day January 16 in the largest political demonstration seen for years in the capital, calling on the government to quit after the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the prime minister. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Supporters of moderate preacher Tahir-ul Qadri prepare breakfast at dawn on the third day of a protest rally in Islamabad on January 16, 2013. Pakistani protesters rallied for a third day January 16 in the largest political demonstration seen for years in the capital, calling on the government to quit after the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the prime minister. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Pakistani Frionter Constables (FC) and policemen stand guard over a barricade of shipping containers on Constitution avenue on the third day of a protest rally in Islamabad on January 16, 2013. Pakistani protesters rallied for a third day January 16 in the largest political demonstration seen for years in the capital, calling on the government to quit after the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the prime minister. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A supporter of moderate preacher Tahir-ul Qadri waves this Pakistani national flag on the third day of a protest rally in Islamabad on January 16, 2013. An estimated 25,000 to 50,000 people have poured into Islamabad from across the country, devoted followers of moderate preacher Tahir-ul Qadri who is calling for the government to step down and radical reforms. It is the largest protest in the capital since the Pakistan People's Party won elections in 2008, ending a decade of military rule and forming what in March will be the country's first civilian government to complete a term in office. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Supporters of moderate preacher Tahir-ul Qadri gather on the third day of a protest rally in Islamabad on January 16, 2013. An estimated 25,000 to 50,000 people have poured into Islamabad from across the country, devoted followers of moderate preacher Tahir-ul Qadri who is calling for the government to step down and radical reforms. It is the largest protest in the capital since the Pakistan People's Party won elections in 2008, ending a decade of military rule and forming what in March will be the country's first civilian government to complete a term in office. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Follow Farzana Hassan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@FarzanaHassan1

FOLLOW CANADA POLITICS