The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is appalled at news of the riots in Gojra, Pakistan, in which several homes belonging to members of the Christian community were destroyed and about seven people were killed.
This frenzy of fanaticism cannot be associated with any faith. The perpetrators have demeaned themselves as asfala safileen, or “the lowest of the low” (95:5), according to the Quran. Not only do we express our outrage at this behavior as inhuman, we deplore those interpreters of Islam and religious leaders who use a rhetoric that promotes a false sense of insecurity and paranoia in Muslim mobs.
ISNA holds the law-and-order authorities in the region responsible for these tragic riots. The Pakistani government should take responsibility, apologize to the victims for its failure to provide protection, bring the perpetrators to justice and provide relief and support to victims. Muslims of Pakistan should collectively rise to the occasion, demonstrate their sympathy and solidarity with the affected members of the Christian community and raise funds to rebuild the church that has been destroyed.
The passions of the common people are being incited. This shameful behavior does not do justice to the Quran’s healing message of respect and love for Christians and people of other faiths. The way to uphold respect for the Quran is to show the Quranic respect for religious diversity and solidarity with the poor and the weak.
ISNA congratulates and takes pride in its Muslim members who raised funds to repair a damaged church in Pakistan some time back. We at ISNA stand committed to promoting peace and harmony with other faiths, and we will be willing to work with other organizations and individuals of all faiths to bring relief, healing and comfort to the region.
Sayyid M. Syeed is national director of the Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances of the Islamic Society of North America.