SRINAGAR, India, SEPT. 14, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Various schools and churches were burned in another wave of anti-Christian violence in India and Pakistan.
Vatican Radio reported that these attacks, as well as other demonstrations in Indonesia and Afghanistan over the weekend, were a reaction to a U.S. man's proposal to hold a "Qur'an Burning Day" on Saturday.
Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, proposed publicly burning a Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, on Saturday's anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by Muslim fundamentalists.
Church and political leaders worldwide vehemently denounced the plan. Thus, Jones backed off from his proposal and decided not to burn the book.
Muslim extremists have nonetheless commenced their attacks on Christian buildings and communities.
Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said Monday that "stopping the Qur'an burning plan […] is not enough and the American government should be responsible and take pre-emptive measures," Reuters reported.
Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi, an Iranian Islamic leader, said that Muslims would not be satisfied "with only condemnations" of the plan, Isna news agency reported.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the "incident had nothing to do with Church and Christianity." He added, "We Muslims will never act this same way with the sanctities of other religions."
However, AsiaNews reported today that a Catholic school near Srinagar, India was burned Monday evening, and two other Protestant schools were attacked. That morning, another Protestant school and a church were burned.
The authorities attempted to intervene, but the clashes between police and demonstrators turned violent, killing at least 17 and wounding 80 more.
Bishop Peter Celestine of Jammu-Srinagar said: "I am deeply saddened by this mob-incited violence. We are a micro minority community [0.0014% of the population], which is peaceful and tolerant.
"Additionally, we give good witness through our schools. And this school was targeted last night, yesterday the Christian Mission Society School, in Tangmarg, was completely burnt down, and the resulting violence led to many deaths."
"Peace must be restored," the prelate said. "We religious leaders have a responsibility to lead peace and tolerance and coexistence."
The bishop said that the small Catholic community has always had "cordial relations with our Muslim brothers and with the authorities."
He called on all Muslims, therefore, "to protect members of minorities and their religious sites."
"We must maintain at all costs the ancient brotherhood and harmony between communities, for which Kashmir is known throughout the world," Bishop Celestine said.
In neighboring Pakistan, a grenade was exploded in a Lutheran church. Two policemen and a watchman were injured, UCA News reported.
Father Amir Yaqub, the pastor of Holy Name Catholic Church in Nowshera, Pakistan, said: "Christians in the vicinity have fled the area. The protest diminished at midnight.
"Police has also warned us to be careful, [saying] 'We can stop people, but can't stop a possible rocket attack.'"
The priest added, "People here don't calm down only until there is a loss of life and property."
ZE10091405 - 2010-09-14