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LI Muslims rally to halt violence against Shia in Pakistan
A dozen Pakistani Muslims, speaking Tuesday from the steps of Nassau County Supreme Court in Mineola, called for U.S. and international help to curtail long-standing sectarian violence against Shia in their homeland after a recent escalation left dozens dead.
Ali A. Mirza, an Elmont businessman, organized the event “to highlight what is happening in Pakistan and how these terrorists are killing innocent Pakistani citizens.”
Pakistani-Americans who travel there also face death threats from extremists, he said.
The group, which included local business owners, limo drivers, an imam and stay-at-home moms, called on the administration of President Barack Obama and the United Nations to pressure Pakistan into pursuing those targeting their religious minority.
They asked that the United States withdraw monetary aid to Pakistan if it doesn’t take bold action.
“Some of us who are standing here have lost our relatives in Pakistan,” said Mirza, 54, once a candidate for the Nassau County Legislature.
They joined the outcry over a Sunday attack where a massive bombing outside a Karachi mosque left 48 dead and hundreds injured. Another two people were killed Monday as gunmen shot people returning from a funeral.
While there was no immediate claim of responsibility in the latest incidents, Sunni militant groups such as the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi — who do not consider Shia to be true Muslims — have been known to carry out such attacks.
On Long Island, though, moderate Sunnis and Shias attend the same mosques and live in peace as Muslim Americans, event participants said.
Protesters also joined an afternoon demonstration outside the Consulate General of Pakistan in Manhattan yesterday. The consulate referred all questions to Pakistan’s Mission to the United Nations, where a receptionist said officials had no comment.
The U.S. Department of State did not respond to a request for comment, but Farhan Haq, a spokesman for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, said his office condemns the attacks.