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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a day of protest for some 20 million Christians in Pakistan and around the world who want the country’s blasphemy laws repealed for being a virtual “constitutional genocide”.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
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
ISLAM
The desperate dream of the Islamic Caliphate
by Samir Khalil SamirAbu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s rhetoric is bankrupt. No Muslim wants to live in a caliphate. Moreover, no-one accepts him as "caliph". But he is correct in pointing out that the Islamic world is in decline, and Muslims themselves are responsible for this. Israel and "conspiracy” theories. The rebirth of Islam through open dialogue in society, based on universal and shared values. Otherwise the demise of Islam is likely.
VATICAN-ITALY
Pope in Molise: Witness to charity, high road of evangelization On a one day pastoral visit to one of the poorest regions in Italy, Pope Francis urges faithful to be like Mary, the "handmaid of the Lord" and in the service of their "brothers who are in need". God frees us from sadness and selfishness. At the University of Campobasso, the call for a "jobs pact" that safeguards the dignity of the unemployed. "Safeguarding" the earth without "exploiting it". We need to "waste time with our children". "Maybe it's time to ask whether it is true freedom to work on Sundays."

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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