On the one hand, there are worse things to worry about than two groups of religious crazies offing each other. There’s world hunger, disease, famine, plague, things that happen to people that they have no part in causing for themselves. And then there is religion, where two or more groups of people go to war because they think the other side believes in the wrong imaginary friend in the sky.
Or, in a case like this, where both sides believe in the same imaginary friend, they just have doctrinal differences.
On February 1, 2013, in Peshawar, Pakistan, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside of a Shiite mosque, killing 22 worshippers inside and wounding at least 30 others. The attack, which took place in the town of Hangu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, is unfortunately not uncommon in many Muslim nations. This kind of radical Sunni-on-Shiite violence is commonplace, 2012 saw a serious upswing in bloodshed by Sunni Muslims who consider Shiite Muslims to be heretics.
The bombing, performed during Friday prayers, sprayed shrapnel over a wide area, peppering local shops and causing collateral damage. While most of the victims were Shiite worshippers, some Sunni were injured by flying debris at a nearby Sunni mosque. I’m not sure if I should feel sorry for them or if I should consider it the result of “bad karma”.
While no group has yet claimed responsibility, it was most likely either the Pakistani Taliban or Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, both of whom have made public violent attack on Shiite mosques. Last month, two bombings at the Baluchistan province capital of Quetta killed 86 people, most of them Shiites. Human Rights Watch says more than 400 Shiites were killed in Pakistan in 2012 alone and this year, they’re ramping up to beat that.
I guess on the one hand, there’s some small part of me that says, “at least they’re killing each other and not innocent, rational people”, but the fact remains, these are still people. People with stupid, primitive beliefs, to be sure, but people nonetheless. What is happening in Pakistan is little different from a situation where Baptists were blowing up Catholic churches in New York City. Of course, since the United States has a secular society and a secular government, we’d never stand for that, we’d clamp down on the violence immediately and prosecute all of those involved to the furthest extent of the law.
Too bad Pakistan and it’s largely religious government is unwilling to do that. That’s one of the many things that puts this story into the Religious Horror Show.