Police in Pakistan Raid Catholic Bookstore

Archdiocese of Karachi Protests

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KARACHI, Pakistan, JULY 4, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Archdiocese of Karachi condemned the media accusations against a bookstore run by the Daughters of St. Paul.

The accusations in the press appeared to trigger a police raid of the bookstore in Saddar, near Karachi, on June 13. Police seized the store’s merchandise on the pretext that it was blasphemous.

A shop salesman was held for questioning for more than 24 hours, while the women religious were intimidated, reported AsiaNews.it.

The raid came after an article appeared in a national Urdu daily and after accusations by Muslim extremists.

On June 12, the Nawa-I-Waqt newspaper denounced the sale in open markets by Christians of audio and video tapes. The article claimed that some CDs amounted to character assassination of Islamic religious figures.

The daily also reported the reactions of Muslim clerics, who issued an edict and called for the opening of a blasphemy case.

The journalist who wrote the article indulged in mistaken conclusions and interpretations on the figure of St. Paul and the films on sale, all products — according to the author — of a Jewish company. He even wrote that St. Paul was a devout Jew who was dedicated to the persecution of Christ and Christians.

Nighttime visit

Archbishop Evaristo Pinto of Karachi told AsiaNews this was a grave matter and that it would be taken up with Pakistan’s interior minister.

According to Father Arthur Charles of the Karachi Archdiocese, on June 12 at 2 a.m. the police tried to enter the convent of the Daughters of St. Paul, but were stopped by the security guard.

The following day, the police went to the bookstore, locked some clients and women religious in, and began searching for CDs and videos, according to the priest.

The Karachi Archdiocese issued a statement condemning the police raid and the false accusations against the sisters’ bookstore.

«The June publication of unfounded news in a small Urdu-language newspaper has deeply hurt the feelings of Pakistani Christians and damages the cause of dialogue and solidarity among Christians and Muslims in the country,» the archdiocesan statement said.

According to the statement, the article is riddled with distortions of reality «made to put Christians in a bad light» and it is untrue that the films sold in the bookstore are produced by a Jewish firm. Nor is it true that there is an intention to screen them throughout the country.

Most videos sold by the Daughters of St. Paul are based on the Bible and have been available for decades throughout Pakistan. Their objective is to strengthen the faith of the local Christian community, clarifies the statement.

The statement also invited Muslim religious to meet with Christians to discuss the matter. About 95% of Pakistan’s 155 million inhabitants are Muslims. Christians comprise 2.5% of the population.

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