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Catholic Bishops feel threatened, insecure following school shootings in Pakistan

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Islamabad | June 6, 2023 8:10:33 AM IST
Pakistan's Catholic Bishops learned to be moderate and patient, but patience has its limitations. This is the message they are sending to their followers and the government in the aftermath of the horrific attack on Sangota Public School on May 17 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa's Swat District. Bitterwinter noted that the school is run by the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Police stationed an officer outside the school's gate due to sectarian concerns. On the other hand, on May 17, a police officer named Alam Khan opened fire on a school van, killing two girls (one of whom was only nine years old) and injuring five others and an adult. The officer was arrested.

However, relatives of the victims and supporters of the school are protesting because the tragedy has been officially blamed on the man's "mental health," without any investigation into his probable links to Muslim extremist groups, according to Bitterwinter.

Bitter Winter is an online magazine on religious liberty and human rights in China published by CESNUR, the Center for Studies on New Religions, headquartered in Torino, Italy.

Scholars, journalists, and human rights activists from different countries contribute by publishing news, documents, and testimonies about persecution against all religions in China.

As reported by Aid to Church in Need last week, the Bishops decided to raise their voices too, Bitterwinter reported.

Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, said, "We feel threatened and insecure amid growing terrorism in the country. This is regrettable."

Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore said in a statement, "We Catholics, and Christians in general, run some girls-only schools. And some people are against the education of women, in Pakistan and elsewhere. This man oversaw security for the children, the staff, the parents, and everybody. That is what he was paid for. But in a moment of madness, he did this because the school teaches girls. This shows how aggressive these groups that are opposed to women's education can be."

Catholic Bishops in Pakistan do their best to maintain a dialogue with the government, and Shaw humoured the authorities by mentioning the assassin's "moment of madness." However, he also referred to "groups" opposing female education and religious minorities, Bitterwinter reported.

In fact, he added that "the government has to do more to protect [educational] institutions and the people who are committed to education and health."

This news article is written by Daniela Bovolenta for Bitter Winter. (ANI)

 
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