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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a day of protest for some 20 million Christians in Pakistan and around the world who want the country’s blasphemy laws repealed for being a virtual “constitutional genocide”.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: on the persecution of Christians, the international community should "not stand by mute and inactive” and “look away”For the sixth time in a week, Pope Francis mentioned the martyrdom of Christians in today’s Regina Caeli (the Marian prayer at Easter), slamming the indifference of the international community towards this "alarming failure to protect basic human rights.” Today’s martyrs "are many, and we can say that they are more numerous than in the first centuries." In addition, “Faith in the resurrection of Jesus and the hope He has brought to us is the most beautiful gift that a Christian can and must offer his brothers and sisters. To one and all, therefore, do not tire of repeating: Christ is Risen!”
ASIA
Easter: The silence of the innocent and the gag
by Bernardo CervelleraViolations of religious freedom and the West's hypocricy surrounding this issue are likely to drag the world into an unprecedented chaos. But even in silence - of death accepted for love or death inflicted by power - God is at work. An indestructible hope rises on Easter morning and a small opening of the heart is just enough for it to invade a lifetime. Happy Easter.
VATICAN
Pope: Christians are persecuted and the world tries to hide itDuring the Angelus, Francis prayed for the victims of today's church massacres in Pakistan. Before the Marian prayer, he said that God "loves us, really love us, and loves us very much! This is simplest expression that sums up the whole Gospel, faith, and theology. God loves us freely and boundlessly." The pontiff also spoke about typhoon victims in Vanuatu. "I pray for the dead, the wounded and the homeless. I thank all those who reacted immediately to bring relief and aid." The pope also made a plea on behalf of persecuted Christians. "May the persecution against Christians, which the world is trying to hide, come to an end, and may there be peace."

Dossier

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