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A French flag is burnt whilst protestors chant Je suis Muhammed/Kouachi in Pakistan.
Christians in Pakistan fear for their lives as Charlie Hebdo protests erupt all over the country. In Lahore on the 16th of January the largest protest said to be in excess of 10,000 people, resulted in attacks on Christian shops with Molotov cocktails and clubs, they also burnt French flags before the French Embassy in an act of defiance and hatred. A Pakistani reporter was shot in the chest during the protest and was fortunate to survive with his life. Protests continue as Imams across the country continue to call for demonstrations to the perceived blasphemy.
In a sickening twist, many protesters in Pakistan have been hailing the murder of the victims in the the Charlie Hebdo attack. The Kouachi brothers name was been shouted out with a number of honourifics, despite the ostensible global condemnation only days earlier.
The BPCA have learnt that many Christian families living in high risk rural areas have temporarily relocated to families within cities, where possible. The people of Gojra, Shanti Nagar, Mardan and St Joseph's colony and many victims of the Peshawar bombings have expressed fears that they may again become victims. Extra prayers are being said in churches calling for God's protection during this volatile period, where it seems no let up in the intensity of animosity is in sight.
Christians in Peshawar who suffered the loss of 127 fatalities instantly and over 250 casualties including sister Farah Javeed who lost her fight against her injuries earlier this month (click here), held their own protest of around one hundred Christians. Wishing to express their solidarity with their offended Muslim brothers they too burnt the French flag in a last ditch effort to prevent further retaliatory attacks.
Churches in Niger have been razed to the ground, targeted as they are a former French colony and 45 people lost their lives during the Niger protests. However, the President of Niger has confirmed his support and protection for the Christians living there. Pakistan's Prime Minister has simply condemned the Charlie Hebdo Magazine, but has failed to say any words of support for the terrified Christians in Pakistan.
Brave lone Pakistani Jew Fishel Benkhald held a one man protest in support of Charlie Hebdo on the 11th January 2015. Despite the potential for violence to himself he declared solidarity with the 12 victims killed during the 7th January armed massacre of staff at the offices of the now infamous magazine, in Paris. A special edition featuring Muhammed on the front cover sold over 5 million copies over this weekend and was described as a defiant response to attempts to limit freedom of speech.
Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the BPCA, said;
"I believe in the principles of freedom of speech, however, where there is a clearly bad outcome for innocent French businessmen and Christians in the Islamic world, perhaps those in the positions of authority and power should reconsider the worthiness of such vaunted ideals. More deaths have resulted from the re-printing of a cartoon of Muhammed of the front cover of Charlie Hebdo, then during the original massacre in Paris. These deaths could have been prevented through better timing and sensitivity."
"We call on the Pakistani Government to protect it's Christian minority during this time of extreme discontent and we pray for their safety. When people choose slander over engagement this inevitably leads to alienation and conflict. We implore Charlie Hebdo to refrain from further use of depictions of Muhmammed during this period of heightened sensitivities."