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» 08/11/2009
PAKISTAN
Some 20 million Christians to mark ‘black day’ against persecution in Pakistan
by Fareed Khan
Activists, minority lawmakers and religious leaders are united in peaceful protest against the country’s blasphemy laws. This is their response to fundamentalist attacks and their way to get the Pakistan government to repeal the laws. Amnesty International backs the fight for minority rights in Pakistan.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Today is a ‘black day’, a day of protest for some 20 million Christians in Pakistan and around the world who want the country’s blasphemy laws repealed for being a virtual “constitutional genocide”. The event will include a number of actions promoted by religious leaders and activists across the country as a way to respond to attacks by fundamentalists.

As part of this Nazir S Bhatti, president of the Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC), launched an appeal to the US government and the European Union to press upon the Pakistani government the need to repeal the blasphemy law and ensure the peace and safety of the country’s Christian community. For him today is not ‘Minority Day’ as announced by the government but a “black day’ to mark anti-Christian violence.

For Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the Catholic Church’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), a number of additional initiatives are planned over the next few days, involving a variety of Christian groups as well as activists and leading members of civil society.

Today for instance minority lawmakers and administrators will attend prayer meetings and religious functions.

Tomorrow evening all Christian denominations will take part in a memorial Mass in Lahore’s Naulakha Church to honour the victims of the Gojra massacre.

On 18 August civil society groups will hold a protest in Lahore against religious extremism and the blasphemy laws.

The NCJP is planning a seminar on ‘Extremism and the Law’ for tomorrow and has launched a signature campaign to repeal the blasphemy laws.

In a recent statement Amnesty International has expressed its support for Pakistani Christians.

In its press release the human rights organisation called on the authorities in Islamabad to “to take meaningful action to protect religious minorities which have increasingly been the target of religiously-motivated attacks and persecution.”

“To this end,” the statement said, “the Pakistan government should introduce a comprehensive education programme, at all levels of society, which promotes equality and respect for the diversity of beliefs in Pakistan”.


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See also
11/03/2004 PAKISTAN
Blasphemy law: death threats against teenage girl forces family to flee
09/14/2005 PAKISTAN
Lahore Archbishop condemns the umpteenth arrest of a Christian for blasphemy
by Qaiser Felix
02/04/2005 PAKISTAN
New cases of violence and torture against Pakistani Christians
09/15/2009 PAKISTAN
Punjab: young Christian man accused of blasphemy killed in prison
by Fareed Khan
09/17/2009 PAKISTAN
Collusion between police and extremists cause of deaths in judicial custody, Pakistani NGO says
by Fareed Khan

Editor's choices
ASIA
Vigil for persecuted Christians, our teachers in the mission in the West
by Bernardo CervelleraThe "wall of indifference and cynicism" and the silence and apathy so often denounced by Pope Francis have become almost a fortress. Such persecution reflects confessional manipulation, which slams Islam as such, and ideological manipulation, which forgets what is happening in North Korea or China. An increasingly post-Christian Europe seems disinterested in Christians.
VATICAN
Pope: We and the four new saints, witnesses of the Resurrection "where forgetfulness of God and human disorientation are most evident "Francis proclaims four religious sisters saints: one French, one Italian, two Palestinians: Maria Alfonsina Danil Ghattas, the foundress of the Sisters of the Rosary, and the Carmelite Maria of Crucified Jesus (nee Maria Bawardy). Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority present. "Abiding in Christ" and cultivating “unity among us" are essential signs of witness. Maria Bawardy, "instrument of encounter and communion with the Muslim world".
ISLAM – MIDDLE EAST
For Al-Baghdadi, Islam is a religion of war, a shrewd message according to Father Samir
by Samir Khalil SamirThe 'caliph' urges all Muslims to carry out their ‘hijrah’, emigration, to move from an Islam of peace to one of war, imitating Muhammad and his Hegira (in 622). The message rekindles something deeply embedded in the Islamic world and among traditionalists and Salafists. Islam is both peace and war and it is time for Muslims to reform their view of history. Islamic holy war and the Crusades are not comparable.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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