11/15/2019, 09.53
PAKISTAN
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Lahore, a Christian journalist, persecuted at work, resigns

by Shafique Khokhar

Gonila Gill is married to Husnain Jamil, a Muslim. Neither the man nor his family ever imposed her conversion to Islam. This is why everyone is persecuted. "I ask the government to protect mixed faith families like ours."

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Persecuted for her faith by colleagues and insulted for not having converted to Islam after marriage with her Muslim boyfriend. This is the story of Gonila Gill, 38, the only Christian journalist registered with the Lahore Press Club.

Speaking to AsiaNews she tells the story of continual torments in the workplace by colleagues who wanted her to convert to Islam. Eventually she became so unhappy that she decided to quit. "People are  vile - she says - when they talk rubbish about my faith. However, I will not lose hope and remain steadfast in my religion ”.

Gonila says that she "received from God the gift of an honest husband, respectful of me and our son who we chose to baptize as a Christian. I am very grateful to him because he helps me and takes care of me, although he is also forced to endure the cruelty of people. He supports my son and I in our Christian life. He often comes to mass with us and participates in prayers. I am lucky to be surrounded by people who love me, by friends who support me ”. At the same time, he adds, "I feel a sense of insecurity in living in this society, and I am very worried about my son's future".

The woman resides in Kot Khawaja Saeed, Lahore. Since 2002 she has been working as a journalist denouncing discrimination against minorities in Pakistan; she also deals with health and education. After the tragedy of 11 September 2001 in the United States, she was assigned to the minority desk, to tell their stories and the difficulties of minority religious groups.

In the office she met Husnain Jamil, a Muslim journalist and they fell in love. They married first in court in secret on August 8, 2014; then on 13 January 2015 they crowned their dream of love with a ceremony celebrated in church. Both the couple and their families have chosen not to "impose" their faith on each other and to respect their respective religious traditions.

At that point the discriminations started, first because Gonila had not converted to Islam, later because the couple had no children. "They told me - she says - that I would never get pregnant until I converted". For his part, her husband has always defended his wife's choice, and was called by the name of "infidel" by Muslim fundamentalists.

"We were all born equal before God - he says - and we must give ourselves the same respect, despite the different religions. We must unite and spread peace and coexistence, respecting everyone's faith and belief ".

After four years of marriage, the journalist continues, "Jesus blessed us with the birth of a son". At that moment new harassment arose, because the community wanted the child to take the religion of the father, Islam. Instead Gonila and Husnain decided to baptize him and call him Abraham. "I don't care what people say about me - the husband says - the only thing that matters is that I am happy with my wife and my son".

Eventually the pressure on the journalist became so insistent, that she decided to resign. "I am sad - she says - because they tell us that Abraham will never have a good future in Pakistan because of our faith. I feel insecure and not respected by society ". For Gonila, the government "must guarantee protection for families like ours, so that we can live with due respect and dignity".

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