More than 400 young people involved in songs, performances and dances. "Textbooks full of hate speech". The temptation of Islamic radicalism through online recruiters.
Lahore (AsiaNews) - A festival devoted to young people to fight growing fundamentalism in Pakistan. It is the latest initiative of the diocese of Faisalabad. Speaking to AsiaNews, Msgr. Joseph Arshad, local bishop and new president of the Pakistani Bishops' Conference, states: "Our country needs peace more than ever. Young people are radicalized and education is the only way to progress. It has the power to drag a human out of the darkness of illiteracy [to] the light of knowledge. [Young people] need greater awareness and this is only possible with a strong interaction. "
Bishop Arshad inaugurated the festival yesterday, in the grounds of the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul cathedral. The program lasts three days and is titled "Art and Culture: the Way to Promote Peace". More than 400 students from 10 Catholic schools attended the ceremony. Among socialization initiatives, songs from Gospel passages, theatrical representations, puppet shows, dances, photographic and pictorial exhibitions.
During the meeting, the bishop handed over 10,000 rupees [nearly 80 euros] to 20 students who were admitted to the university. He calls it a "symbolic gesture. When I meet young people, they start investing primarily in professional education, then opting for the religious one. They are easily influenced by religious extremists on social media and need to acquire awareness. "
Recent studies reveal that young Pakistanis are easy prey to online recruiters, they are fascinated by extremism and are committed to implementing jihad. Recently Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, army chief, warned young men against being distracted by Islamic organizations such as Daesh [Arabic acronym of Islamic State - ed]. "You are their favorite prey," he said, addressing a group of young people.
Catholic bishops have intervened on the same theme, denouncing the hate speech in the textbooks. "It is really unfortunate - they said - that the education system in Pakistan is so deficient. It is full of weaknesses. We appeal to the government to introduce a system of education that creates an atmosphere of acceptance, religious harmony and peaceful coexistence. "