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Saperstein: "This malicious act of terror against members of Pakistan's religious minority community is reflective of a terrible trend of attacks against religious minorities not only in Pakistan, but in too many places throughout the world."
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WASHINGTON, D.C., September 24, 2013 - In response to a weekend suicide bomb attack at an historic church in Peshawar, Pakistan, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
"We are deeply saddened and appalled by Sunday's horrific attack on worshipers at Peshawar's All Saints Church that resulted in the deaths of at least 78 people. This malicious act of terror against members of Pakistan's religious minority community is reflective of a terrible trend of attacks against religious minorities not only in Pakistan, but in too many places throughout the world.
In March, several thousand people attacked Joseph Colony, a Christian neighborhood, in Lahore, Pakistan. 150 houses and two churches were set on fire. In August, coordinated attacks on churches in Egypt threatened Coptic Christians, the country's largest religious minority, and at least seven people were killed. Also in August, 44 people praying at a mosque in Nigeria were gunned down by the Islamic Boko Haram. The Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is a sin," has attacked mosques where clerics have spoken out against religious extremism. And of course, this past weekend at least 68 people were killed by al-Shabaab militants in a mall in Kenya. Al-Shabaab has stated that the attackers only targeted non-Muslims.
Each attack is a devastating reminder that religious intolerance remains a threat to peace and stability around the world. These brutal incidents also violate the most fundamental principles of human rights under which all people should be guaranteed the freedom to believe and worship freely and in safety. Acts of violence committed in the name of religion are not just acts targeting individuals but aimed at entire faith communities. Rather than elevating their own faith in whose name they claim to act, those who murder innocents for worshipping God in accordance with their conscience or because they call for religious tolerance and respect reflect instead the basest instincts of humanity. As a people who have endured religious persecution throughout our history, we call on the Pakistani government and all governments to condemn violence against religious minorities and to act to ensure that religious freedom and ability to worship unmolested are protected for all."