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    » 03/31/2010, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Easter in Pakistan where an "unshakable" faith is stronger than fear

    Fareed Khan

    Fr Nadeem John Shaker stresses Christians’ deep devotion and their willingness to run any risk in order to take part in church services. For the clergyman, the faithful must be responsible for their own security. He appeals to the West to pray for them and highlight the persecution they have to endure.
    Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Pakistani Catholics are starting Holy Week and Easter celebrations with deep devotion, willing to run any risk to take part in church services, Fr Nadeem John Shakir told AsiaNews. Even if this is the case, for the executive secretary of the Commission for Social Communications of the Pakistani Bishops' Conference, the faithful are living in an atmosphere of fear.

    Christians might have to make do with a silent Easter as they did last December for Christmas. On that occasion, churches kept a low profile; outside, there were no lights or decorations to mark the season out of fearing for attacks from Muslim extremists. For Fr Nadeem, this time too is one of silence. So far, there has been no incident or attack, but dangers remain.

    Lent was a time of fear and no one was safe, Fr Nadeem said; however, the faithful should attend Holy Week services in great numbers because their faith is "unshakable". Security must be guaranteed, but the deployment of government forces is not enough. Christians must take on that responsibility first hand.

    As religious extremism grows in Pakistan, non-Muslims are increasingly victims of discrimination and persecution. This is compounded by a global crisis made worse by bombings, power shortages, rising prices and unemployment. Such problems are encouraging extremists to fight the central government. People feel insecure even in their homes.

    Despite the dangers and uncertainty, Fr Nadeem wants to send a message of hope to Christians who are preparing to celebrate Easter. Even media like television are going to cover events. Although people are scared and worried, they will not let fear defeat them.

    Lastly, Fr Nadeem made an appeal to the media and to Western Christians, asking them "to pray for Pakistani Christians", to talk about their situation because their voice and media support are vital for their survival.

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    See also

    22/03/2010 PAKISTAN
    Pakistani Christian couple refuses to convert: husband is burnt alive, wife raped by police
    Both husband and wife worked for a wealthy Muslim businessman in Rawalpindi. Their three children, ranging from 7 and 12, were forced to watch their parents brutalised. The man has suffered 80 per cent burns, and hospital doctors do not think he will survive. Christian organisations stage protests.

    09/04/2005 PAKISTAN
    Alleged Easter attackers arrested in Lahore


    12/10/2004 PAKISTAN
    Violence against the mentally disabled accused of blasphemy

    Christian physicians and lawyers say that Islam is being used to discriminate against disabled people.



    23/06/2011 PAKISTAN
    Doubts and surprise among Christians over the first arrest in the Shahbaz Bhatti murder case
    After a long period of silence, it is “odd” that the one person who is arrested is an employee of the slain minister who worked for him for ten years, the bishop of Islamabad noted. A Catholic activist finds the direction of the investigation “surprising” and full of oddities. The job of the minister’s brother Paul is at risk, but for the latter it is “premature” to say anything about the probe, urging everyone to wait for the end of the interrogations.

    10/12/2004 PAKISTAN – HUMAN RIGHTS
    Religious minorities, persecuted and marginalised

    Non-Muslims are marginalised from the country's political and social life despite guarantees for equal rights and obligations under the 1947 constitution.





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