Global Post: KARACHI, Pakistan — Just hours after a bomb killed at least 80 people leaving mass at a church in the northwestern city of Peshawar, I received a disturbing text message.
In Pakistan, mass text-messages are used to spread all kinds of information. People I barely know have texted me about everything from political killings to religious holidays. During this year’s landmark elections, text messages were a crucial tool for informing voters about poll safety and hours.
Were it not for one word, the message I received Sunday wouldn’t have caught my attention; it asked everyone reading it to recite a line from the Quran that condemns senseless violence. But the message made a pointed omission, specifying that recipients should recite the line for the “peace of all Muslims everywhere.”
No mention of Christians.
Though they were the targets of this past weekend’s attacks, I heard many comments over the following two days that similarly dismissed this minority group.
A cigarette vendor told me Christians are making themselves vulnerable by going to church. “It’s not like I spend a lot of time at churches in Pakistan,” he said. “They’re there, and Christians go there. But they’re very easy targets since only [Christians] go to the churches. We shouldn’t have to increase security, they should find new places of worship.”
The ruling party’s cabinet is currently coming up with a plan to make churches and other minority places of worship more secure, after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the weekend bombing. An official police investigation into the attack in currently underway.
Still, in February, when bombs in Quetta targeted Hazara Shiites and left more than 80 dead, Karachi’s public had a far more pronounced sympathetic reaction. The city was shut down for days.