Written by RSN
June 25, 2008
The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) http://www.persecution.org just learned that the Taliban has publicly apologized for the kidnapping of 16 Christians in Peshawar, Pakistan on June 21, 2008.
On June 23, the Taliban held a press conference at the Bara Press Club, near Peshawar, Pakistan. Mr. Abdul Karim, the spokesman for the Bara-based Lashkar-e-Islam (part of the Pakistani Taliban), stated that the kidnapping was the result of a misunderstanding and apologized on behalf of the organization's local director, Mr. Mangal Bagh.
While the Taliban's effort to apologize is admirable, it rings incredibly hollow. The Muslim landlord who rented his buildings to the Christians is still in their custody. Arguably, under Islamic law, he is the one who is the most guilty since he "betrayed" his religion by allowing non-Muslims to "desecrate" a former Islamic Seminary. If the Taliban takes out their wrath on him, their apology is meaningless and these Christians will be defenseless. They would likely be turned out of their homes by whoever takes possession of his property.
However, Mr. Karim defended Lashkar-e-Islam by stating that for years Hindu, Sikh, and Christian families have lived in the Khyber Agency and have never been refrained from observing their religious rituals or persecuted on the basis of religion by Lashkar-e-Islam or any other Islamic organization.
The spokesman continued to say that his organization has provided full protection to the religious minorities living in the Khyber Agency. He expressed his regret for the kidnapping of the Christians from Peshawar and that the abduction was conducted without the approval of the organization's director, Mr. Mangal Bagh.
These statements are insincere at best. The Christians who were kidnapped were threatened repeatedly throughout this past year. If Lashkar-e-Islam is as influential as it claims and was busy protecting minorities, who was threatening these Christians? Their past record does not help. They did not stop the murder of a Christian employee of Shelter Now International on January 17, 2008, who was shot and killed on his way home from work in Peshawar.
Jeremy Sewall, Policy Analyst at ICC, said, "This apology looks like a ploy. The Pakistani government has been criticized for giving more autonomy to radical Islamists in the North West Frontier Provinces, and this apology looks like an attempt to defuse that criticism. Christians in Pakistan, and especially in the North West Frontier Provinces, need more than apologies. They need real change, and they need to be treated as equals."
Kidnapping was the result of a “misunderstanding”