12/27/2006, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Pakistani Muslim hangs banners with Christmas wishes

by Qaiser Felix
A young shopkeeper in Faisalabad hangs banner expressing best wishes for the birth of Christ, the Christian saviour. Christmas ceremonies go off without a hitch across the country.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – The Christmas message “”is one peace and social harmony, something that I wish the most for my country. For this reason I celebrated with my Christian friends and hanged banners in different parts of the city wishing Christians a “Very Happy Christmas”, said Summer Adeel, 29, a shopkeeper in Warispura, a well-known area in Faisalabad, and a Muslim. He believes in Jesus as a prophet and wanted to celebrate his birth. He hanged banners, first in his store, then around the city.

“Christ always preached peace and love walking on foot to many regions of the earth. By the same token, I walked around the city hanging banners with messages of good wishes for the birth of the Christian Saviour. It is what I can offer to this festivity,” he said.

“Religions should not be a source of discrimination. I am a human being and because of that I have millions if not billions of brothers. I believe we are all equal and should be treated the same way,” he explained.

But “when I asked some Muslim shopkeepers to join me in hanging Christmas banners, some threw me out and insulted me. I did it all the same, alone, and Christians were impressed. I want to offer my best wishes to Christians around the world,” he added.

Despite high tensions due to threats by Muslim fundamentalists, Christmas ceremonies went off without any problems.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz cut a Christmas cake on December 25 together with Christian MPs, whilst Punjabi Chief Minister Chaundhry Pervaiz Elahi said that the Christian community was at the service of the national cause and very much involved in the education and health care fields.

“Each one of us,” Elahi said during a Christmas function, “must work to discourage extremist elements. All Pakistanis, including Christians, must work together for the nation’s progress without discrimination and in full brotherhood.”

In Pakistan, Christians and other minorities are still victims of violence, marginalised and sometimes killed for their faith.

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