23 October 2017
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  • » 07/08/2010, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Punjab soup kitchen forbidden to Christians



    The service of cheap meals for the poor is widespread throughout the region and is sponsored by local authorities. In the district of Toba Tek Singh, the organizers of the kiosks, however, discriminate against Christians and claim that the canteen is only for Muslims. Moderate Islamic leaders condemn the incident and invited local authorities to take action.

    Anaheim (AsiaNews / ANS) - In Toba Tek Singh in Punjab, the local government forbids poor Christians from taking advantage of a meals service because of their faith. This is revealed by a survey Assist News Service, an agency of the Protestant community.

    Recently, the Punjab government decided to offer a free meal service called "dastar Khwan" for the poor, inviting entrepreneurs and philanthropists of every state to finance the project, built largely with public money. The authorities have opened canteens in different areas and villages in the province where every day from 13.00 to 15:00 lunch is served for poor people at a cost of only 9 cents. The initiative was a success all over the Punjab, but not in the district of Toba TAK Singh where many Christians were prevented from buying the meal token.

    20 year old Christian Naqash Gill said: "I went to one of the stalls with some friends for a meal. There were four of us and we paid for the meal token. When food was being served, suddenly a security guard came out waving a gun, shouting, 'Hey, you Christians, you have to leave here. The meals are not for you'. " "We tried to speak to the manager, – he added - but the gunman continued to point his weapon at us and ordered us to shut up".

    Ashiqi Masih, a poor man who is well known among Muslims for his Christian faith, decided instead to rebel against the discriminatory treatment. "I argued with the manager of the kiosk – he said - stressing that the government has never allowed discrimination against Christians. I said if this was their policy, why not put a sign on the stand saying: 'Only for Muslims ?".

    These facts have led the Christian community to turn to politicians, merchants, lawyers, journalists and Muslim religious leaders to resolve the situation which could lead to tension among the population. Some local leaders, including Labour Party of Pakistan member Tariq Mehmood and member of the Punjab AssemblyMohammed Rafique, have condemned discrimination. They explained the situation of the district administration, stressing that the concerns of the Christian community are shared by moderate Muslims.

    In response to the accusations, a district spokesman says the government has no policy of discrimination toward Christians. "The citizens – he stated - have to resolve problems among themselves. The government only has the task of providing flour subsidies.”

    Rasheed Jalal, head of minorities in the Pakistan Muslim League – PML says that if the problem is not resolved peacefully, Christians have the right to require the district to suspend the grants. "The subsidy - he says - is paid with public money collected from all citizens and must be used for a common goal".

    Ch Muhammad Saeed, President of the District Council on Agriculture and a member of Jamiat Islami, says he wants to build a free school meal service open to all poor people and without discrimination based on religion, ethnicity or caste. "Muslims - he says - will eat together with our Christian brothers to foster peace and harmony in the district of Toba Tek Singh." The news was generally welcomed by the Christian community that hopes to see the actual implementation of these promises.

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    See also

    10/07/2010 PAKISTAN
    Christian students in Pakistan are victims of violence and discrimination
    Minorities Concern of Pakistan denounces a climate of intolerance and exclusion in the classroom. Most of the violations are committed in government institutions, due to a "fragile" system that associates Pakistan to a "Muslims-only country”. An association of teachers demands action from the Chief Justice against the Federal Ministry of Education.

    25/09/2015 PAKISTAN
    Punjab government not meeting minority quota requirements, says Justice and Peace Commission
    An ad by the Institute of Cardiology is the latest example of non-compliance with regards to the 5 per cent quota for non-Muslims, as the latter are guaranteed openings for low-paying menial jobs. Justice and Peace Commission calls on minister in charge to act. Christian activist bemoans the failure to enforce the law.

    11/10/2017 13:58:00 PAKISTAN
    Christian boy tortured to death by Punjab police

    He was killed during school lessons. He refused to convert to Islam. He had argued with his classmates who were witness to and promoters of the murder. Activists condemn violence and impunity at the expense of religious minorities: anyone who is free to act as an accuser, judge, and executioner. Justice and Peace: This trend is not new, but growing, uncontrolled and unpunished.



    13/09/2017 15:30:00 PAKISTAN
    School uniform became son’s shroud, says father of murdered Christian student

    Sharoon Masih was murdered by his classmates on the third day of school. For the National Commission for Justice and Peace, the boy’s murder is the fault of school authorities. His death was not the result of “a fight among teenagers, but in fact it was caused by intolerance, discrimination and inhuman attitude”.



    12/09/2017 12:10:00 PAKISTAN
    Punjab, Christian student killed, victim of religious racism

    Sheron Masih was 17 years old and had just begun attending public school. Classmates beat him to death with sticks because he tried to drink water. His murder, "just the tip of the iceberg; below, a great mountain of hatred and discrimination against minorities. "





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