The next wave of religious violence

Patrick Martin writes: A new wave of sectarian violence has engulfed the Near East, the crest of which has reached Pakistan, where 200 Shia Muslims have been killed in two recent bombing attacks carried out by Sunni extremists.

The first attack came Jan. 10, when twin bombs were used. First, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside a popular Shia billiards hall in the Baluchistan capital of Quetta, killing several people. Then, a car bomb was detonated moments later when enough people had rushed to the scene to help the wounded.

Members of the Shia community say that, coming after several months of lower-level assaults that claimed the lives of more than 400 people in 2012, this sinister attack had finally gone too far.

In a profound protest, thousands of Shiites in Baluchistan province blocked the streets and announced they would not bury their dead until the government dismissed the provincial governor and declared martial law. The government relented after days of such demonstrations, joined by others across the country and in many cities around the world, including Toronto.

It did little good. On Feb. 16 another attack hit the community when a water truck filled with explosives blew up in the middle of a Shia market. About 90 people perished.

This time there was more of a response from government and scores of suspects were rounded up. No one, however, thinks the persecution is over. [Continue reading…]

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