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The link between Egypt's bomb and Pakistan's bullets

There is a connection between the car bomb that detonated on Saturday outside a church in Alexandria, Egypt and the 27 bullets fired at a leading liberal politician in Pakistan on Tuesday. The two events are a reminder that terrorism often grows from the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities. It is not only a strategy intended to destabilize major, developed countries.

Until his death yesterday, Salman Taseer was the governor of Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province. After a Christian citizen was sentenced to death for defaming the prophet Muhammad, Mr. Taseer campaigned for her release and for repeal of the country's three-decade old anti-blasphemy laws. And that is why he had to die, according to the reported statements of his alleged killer - his bodyguard.

Elements of its legal code from the 1970s, enacted during Zia ul-Haq's Islamizing military dictatorship, practically invite the Taliban and other extremists to conduct anti-minority witch hunts. And it is not just Christians who suffer, and their defenders who die, as a result. Since 1974, Ahmadi Muslims have been officially deemed non-Muslim, according to the national constitution. They, along with Shia Muslims and adherents of Sufism (like Mr. Taseer), have had their mosques and shrines attacked by the Taliban.

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Egypt's 28-year-old state of emergency means organized political opposition is a practical impossibility. After government repression of the comparatively moderate Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda-inspired factions take advantage of the weakness of parliamentary opposition, leaping into a near-vacuum and inflicting violence on Christians, who make up around 10 per cent of the population but are under-represented in government.

By contrast, in Sudan, the animist and Christian minorities in the south have survived an attempted genocide and a civil war, will vote in a referendum on secession next week. But there too, despite a recent pledge by President Omar al-Bashir to respect the result, there will be political incentives for violence will be great.

World leaders should not only assure the security of their own fellow citizens; they also need to stand up for endangered minorities elsewhere in the world.

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