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    » 09/17/2012, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Pakistani Christians and Muslims condemn blasphemous film about Muhammad

    Shafique Khokhar

    Hundreds of people demonstrated in different cities. The Diocesan Commission for Interreligious Dialogue in Faisalabad organizes a Muslim-Christian meeting. Fr. Mendes: terrible to offend the sensibilities of Muslims. Muslim leader: the authors must be tried by “ Shariah courts." And thanks to Christians for solidarity.

    Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - The wave of protests against the blasphemous film about Muhammad, which has inflamed many Muslim majority countries has 'arrived in Pakistan Over the past few days protests have been held in several cities. Hundreds of people chanted slogans condemning the film "Innocence of Muslims" and the Christian community has sympathized with the Muslim majority condemning a work of little artistic value and offensive to Islam. The Diocesan Commission for Interreligious Dialogue in Faisalabad, on the evening of September 15, called a press conference in the curia, which was attended by at least 50 prominent figures, Christian and Muslim. They expressed, together the strongest condemnation of the film, branded its authors as "agents of Satan" who deserve exemplary punishment.

    The participants appealed to the U.S. government to ban the film, and they also call for the arrest of Pastor Terry Jones, Sam Becile, the director, and other persons who participated in the production. They also specifically ask the Islamabad executive to  demand an official apology from the U.S. embassy in Pakistan. The United Nations, say the Muslim-Christian leaders, must also be considered: these groups should be treated the same way as terrorists because they affect the feelings of the faithful and "demolish peace in the world."

    Fr Bonnie Mendes, a priest and former Secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, says it's terrible "to offend the sensibilities of Muslim for sinister and evil interests." The Muslim religious leader Muhammad Ibrahim requested the extradition to Pakistan of Pastor Jones and the author of the film, so they may be " tried by the Shariah courts." He speaks of a "conspiracy" of the Jewish and the U.S lobby. against Islam and thanks "minorities" for their  "strong condemnation" of the film.

    For the director of the Diocesan Commission for Interreligious Dialogue, Fr. Aftab James Paul, freedom of thought "should never mean hurting the feelings of others." The priest announces a letter to the U.S. consulate in Pakistan and will raise the issue with UN officials in the country. Finally, Fr. Khalid Yousaf calls for "respect" for religion, and the end of these "blasphemous acts."

    To "avenge" the broadcast of the film that offends the figure of Muhammad, on 11 September, an armed group attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi (Libya). In the attack, Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three of his co-workers lost their lives. The protest against the film has since spread to other Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as India and Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world.

     

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    See also

    06/07/2009 PAKISTAN
    Faisalabad, Christians and Muslims investigating case of young man charged with blasphemy
    An inter-religious committee will examine the case of Imran Masih, arrested and tortured for having burned pages of the Koran and beaten by police. A Catholic priest points out that is a "positive step" to dissolve the tension. Involving Muslim leaders to dismantle the charges against the young man.

    26/10/2009 INDIA - PAKISTAN
    The courage of the Church of Pakistan, against the "Islamization" of society
    Vatican figures speaks to AsiaNews about their impressions from a recent trip to Pakistan. Christians are persecuted; the blasphemy law is used to target the faithful and their businesses. But signals of hope are also emerging: the Church is "young, vibrant and courageous."

    02/05/2009 PAKISTAN
    Christian families flee Punjab in wake of presumed blasphemy case
    Accusations against a social activist for having marked the Koran with ink and chewing gum. Rival politics within the Christian community at root of case. Protests force accused family to flee village.

    18/09/2007 PAKISTAN
    ”Blasphemous” Christian freed after a year: he was innocent.
    Shahid Masih, 18, was imprisoned in September 2006 accused of having blasphemed Islam. His presumed accomplice, a Muslim released on caution nine months ago, also absolved. The Christian’s mother died from heartbreak following his arrest.

    06/05/2006 PAKISTAN
    Mgr John Joseph, blasphemy martyr, remembered

    On the eighth anniversary of the bishop's death, his sacrifice is being recalled across the country and once again, there are calls for abolition of this unjust and abused law.





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