04/08/2020, 11.48
PAKISTAN
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Coronavirus: Kasur, Muslim activist helps poor discriminated Christians

by Shafique Khokhar

Without his intervention 120 families would starve. The village mosque had refused to distribute aid to Christians. Shakeel Ahmed rescued them by contacting some Catholic organizations. With the coronavirus quarantine, a lot of day workers lose their jobs.

Kasur (AsiaNews) - Without the help of Shakeel Ahmed, a Muslim human rights activist, 120 Christian families in the district of Kasur (Punjab) would have starved.

All of Pakistan is quarantined to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Locked in their homes, unable to work, many Pakistanis - especially day laborers - struggle to survive.

Over 4,000 people have been infected in the country, and 54 have died, but the pace of infections has accelerated in recent days. In this situation, after three weeks of blockade, many Christians were discriminated against in the distribution of aid.

 After the case of a Karachi NGO, which refused to help poor Hindus and Christians in the Korangi (Sindh) area, food donations were also denied to Christians in the village of Sanda Kalan.

"Food was only delivered to Muslims," ​​Ahmed tells AsiaNews. The Christians living in this area are almost all wage earners who have lost their quarantine jobs. They are vulnerable and risk hunger without external support. One of them, Zeshan Masihhas, says he hasn't earned a rupee in over two weeks. He is locked up in the house with his wife and children, without food or medicine.

On March 4, aid was distributed to the poor in the village mosque. Sheikh Abdul Rahim Hamid, the local imam, organized the collection and distribution of food rations. Hungry, Christian residents turned up to receive their share, but were rejected. They were told that aid was only for the 500 local Muslims.

At that point, Ahmed came to their rescue. He contacted Christian organizations that brought food to the Christian population of Sanda Kalan. The distribution took place thanks to the collaboration of some local activists. But there is a desperate need for other help for these people.

Ahmed maintains that the treatment received by Christians in his village is inhuman and contrary to the teachings of Islam. Everyone must be helped, regardless of their religious faith.

The Catholic authorities of Pakistan, including Msgr. Joseph Arshad, archbishop of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, asked that every person in the country be protected and helped.

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