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One of my first pieces for Ricochet was “The Last Jew in Pakistan.” It was about a friend I made over Twitter named Fishel Benkeld, a resident of Karachi, who is commonly thought of as, literally, the last Jew in the entire country, population 187 million. We chat over Twitter direct message, and sometimes, I wonder if it’s the last time we will ever talk.
On Wednesday morning, Karachi was the scene of unimaginable carnage. Several members of the Islamist radical group, Jundallah, shot into a bus full of minority Muslim Ismailis. At least 40 were killed, and 20 were injured.
The New York Times has more:
The passengers were members of the Ismaili sect of Shiite Islam, and the bus made daily commutes from an Ismaili residential complex to other parts of Karachi. Sixteen women were among the dead, the police said.
Jundullah, a Taliban splinter group, claimed responsibility for the attack. Members of minority sects have often been targeted in Pakistan by the Taliban and other extremist Sunni militants; attacks on Ismaili Muslims, an educated and affluent community, are rare but not unprecedented.
At least six men, riding motorcycles, took part in the attack Wednesday, said Ghulam Haider Jamali, the police chief of Sindh Province, of which Karachi is the capital. Some of the attackers boarded the bus and opened fire on the passengers, most of whom were shot in the head and chest, Chief Jamali said.
It is near impossible to imagine about a scene where innocent people, crowded on a bus, watched as their killers shot the men, women, and children in front of them, knowing that they would be next. I’m sick to my stomach right now just thinking about it. The CNN story about this attack included a chilling quote from Zohra Yusuf, the chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, who said that the attack was:
“[D]isturbing in terms of the fact that the definition of who is a proper Muslim is shrinking as far as the extremist groups are concerned”
We are tragically watching, in real time, the ethnic cleansing of minority Muslims, by radical Islamists, who consider them not to be “proper.” The Yazidis certainly know this. When ISIS started its reign of terror over the Middle East, they were some of its first targets. From The Guardian:
Most of the trapped people are members of the Yazidi religion, one of Iraq’s oldest minorities. They were forced to flee to Mount Sinjar in the Iraqi north-west region, or face slaughter by an encircling group of Islamic State (Isis) jihadists. The UN has said that roughly 40,000 people – many women and children – have taken refuge in nine locations on the mountain, “a craggy, mile-high ridge identified in local legend as the final resting place of Noah’s ark”.
Gruesome images of brutally slain people have emerged in the past week, as local officials say that at least 500 Yazidis, including 40 children, have been killed, and many more have been threatened with death. Roughly 130,000 residents of the Yazidi stronghold of Sinjar have fled to Dohuk, in Iraqi Kurdistan to the north, or to Irbil.
Some of the reports of the atrocities Yazidis suffered have been forever etched in my memory. One is the report that some of the children trapped on Mount Sinjar were so dehydrated, that their parents would cut themselves open so their children could drink their blood. Another is the mass enslaving and rape of Yazidi girls and women. I will never forget this headline from The Daily Mail’s webpage:
The list of minority Muslim groups attacked and killed by radical Islamists is ever-growing. Kurds, Bohras, Ahmadis, Hazaras, and so on. This is not at all to forget attacks on non-Muslim groups like Coptic Christians, 21 of whom were beheaded by ISIS terrorists on a Libyan beach.
As I was wrapping this article up, a tweet from The Wall Street Journal came across my timeline:
— Saeed Shah (@SaeedShah) May 13, 2015
Radical Islamists are certainly trying to kill all but the “proper” Muslims.
When I first saw this story, I sent a message to my friend, Fishel. I hope to hear back from him, soon.