Two years after about a thousand Muslims burned down a Christian neighborhood in the Pakistani town of Gojra, destroying 150 homes and businesses, and killing eight to ten Christians, including children, Muslim leaders Pir Israr Bihar Shah and Pir Hafiz Abbul Haui apologized for those acts.
Though the leaders themselves did not participate in the violence, they condemned the actions and asked forgiveness, saying that Islam does not condone murder. The anti-Christian raid occurred on August 1, 2009. Everyone arrested in the violence was acquitted.
Violence against Christians, and forced conversions to Islam are common in Pakistan. While not an official statement, the apology is significant, because the Pirs are well-known and respected in the area. Shah runs a Muslim school and Haui heads a nearby mosque.
Read about a rare conviction in the case of a Pakistani Christian murdered for refusing to convert to Islam at:
See video testimony of a Pakistani Christian family whose two-year-old child was brutalized when they refused to convert to Islam.
Copyright 2011, Kathryn A. Frazier