Trying to avoid religion in Lahore

coocosviewjpegWhy did Lahore, Pakistan, think it was different? And different from what? Much has been made about how Lahore was perceived as different since the brutal, daylight attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team. The city's history and culture are unique. The people are relatively diverse and there is a large concentration of Christian groups, particularly in the rural areas. Context is necessary to understand what makes this city different from its neighbors.

This Los Angeles Times piece does a good job explaining the shock the tragedy delivered to the culture, but does nothing to explain any of the religious elements of the culture that make the place unique:

Residents consider Lahore the arts capital of Pakistan and feel proud of its free, open atmosphere, its tolerance, sense of fun and vibrant street life. It's the home of Pakistan's Lollywood, the nation's film capital.

But Tuesday's brazen attack on the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team has shaken the residents of this city of 10 million people.

The gun and grenade assault left seven people dead, not eight as initially reported, officials said. Six of the dead were policemen.

Because the identity of the attackers is unknown at this point, it is difficult to even speculate on the attackers' motivations. Here the BBC works hard to avoid the religion angle, but near the end, something compelled them to mention it:

Another potential suspect are the Pakistani Taleban, or Islamist militants who are conducting a bloody insurgency in the north-west of the country.

They have been blamed, or claimed responsibility, for a number of equally spectacular attacks in Pakistan in the past.

One of the groups was even accused by the government of having carried out the December 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

But they largely depend on suicide attacks or remote-controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and their targets have been either state officials or members of rival sects.

Al-Qaeda, which many believe to be an umbrella organisation of most militant groups active in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir, appears to have had a role in planning previous attacks against high-profile targets in Pakistan, such as foreign dignitaries.

A key reason western authorities have struggled battling groups such as Islamic militant groups is that their organizational structures and motivations are so little understood. Unfortunately, I don't expect the media to explain the tragic consequences that result when a free, open society clashes with the brutally nihilistic attitude of Islamic fundamentalists. Reporting on the fundamental incompatibility between those worldviews needs to be reported in order for people to understand the nature of those who attack cricket teams

Image of the Minaret of Badshshi Mosque, viewed from roof top of Coocoo's Den, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

Please respect our Commenting Policy