Wednesday, June 12, 2024
 
 

Muslims surround and attack Sikh holy sites in Pakistan

EPA-EFE//RAMINDER PAL SINGH
Sikh devotees pray as they prepare to leave for Pakistan to take part in a religious procession as part of the 550th birthday anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh Guru and founder of Sikhism, in Amritsar, India.

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Hundreds of Muslims in Pakistan recently besieged a prominent gurdwara, a place of assembly and worship, trapping Sikhs for hours in the process.
The violence followed the celebration of Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti, a festival commemorating the birthday of the tenth Sikh guru on January 2.
A video posted on social media showed hundreds of Muslims surrounding Nankana Sahib, the pilgrimage site in Pakistan’s Punjab Province, and attacking the holy place with stones while shouting that they would destroy the sire and change its name to Ghulam-e-Mustafa, an Arabic term meaning “the Servant of the Prophet Mohammad”.
The Pakistani police later dispersed the crowd and the gurdwara was re-opened.
Indian leaders condemned the attacks and urged Pakistani officials to protect the country’s Sikh minority and other non-Muslim holy sites.
“India strongly condemns these wanton acts of destruction and desecration of a holy place. We call upon the Government of Pakistan to take immediate steps to ensure the safety, security, and welfare of the members of the Sikh community. Strong action must be taken against the miscreants who indulged in the desecration of the holy Gurdwara and attacked members of the minority Sikh community,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a press release shortly after the attack.
The relationship between Pakistan’s Muslim populations and its tiny Sikh community had been at a historic high prior to the attack on the historic gurdwara. This had prompted India to open the 4-kilometre Kartarpur Sahib Corridor that allows Sikh pilgrims to travel between Sikh gurdwaras in India’s Punjab to the Pakistani side of the same region, which was divided between the two rival states following the partition of British India in 1947.
The rights of Sikhs, as a religious minority, have been repeatedly violated in Pakistan, which is 98% Muslim. Rights advocates from Pakistan’s Sikh community have emphasised that since 2002, the historic Sikh population in the country has plummeted from 40,000 people to only 8,000 amid threats of forced conversions and increased violence that has specifically targeted Sikh worshipers and their holy sites.

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