Church calls on media to apologise for anti-Christian cartoon and video
by Kamran Chaudhry

Cartoon shows two men crucified on electrical poles, whilst video trailer announces TV series about a Christian woman converting to Islam. Some imams have joined the Christian protest. Catholic activist calls for calm so as not to harm Christians working in media involved.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Hundreds of Christians gathered yesterday in front of the Karachi Press Club to demand an apology from Pakistani media for a cartoon and video that insult the religious minority.

Led by three Catholic priests in cooperation with the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), protesters carried banners that said "No justice, no peace" and "What is our future in Pakistan?”

For Fr Saleh Diego, of the Archdiocese of Karachi, “This should be stopped. They should not hurt our religious feelings. We cannot accept that electronic and print media desecrate our spiritual symbols.”

One of the country’s main papers, The Express Tribune, published the offending cartoon (picture 1) last Friday, showing two crucified men, nailed to electric poles, to symbolise the rising cost of electrical energy.

A trailer video uploaded on Geo Tv's YouTube channel titled ‘Maria Bint-e-Abdullah’ purports to be about a young Christian woman converting to Islam.

“The Cross is our symbol and identity,” Fr Diego said. “Only Christ has right to be crucified. The Tribune is our companion in the struggle for equal rights. We do not understand this and demand the authorities take notice

With respect to the video, he adds that “media are promoting conversion and this is an indirect reference. Forced conversion is already a big issue.”

On social media, Kamran Michael, a former federal minister for Ports and Shipping, announced that he was going to raise the issue in the Senate.

Today the National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism (NCIDE) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan held an emergency meeting in Lahore. A group of ten Muslim imams also participated (picture 2), sharing the Church’s condemnation of the offence inflicted on Christians.

“This is a planned conspiracy to damage Muslim Christian interfaith harmony,” said NCIDE executive secretary Fr Francis Nadeem. “We demand Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry to act against these troublemaking elements and ensure that such incident do not happen in future.”

Catholic activist Khalid Shehzad called for calm warning against overreacting. "Both media outlets have issued apologies or explanations,” he noted.

“People have started commenting on the drama series before actually seeing it,” he added. A “backlash can jeopardise the jobs of many Christians working in these news outlets. We might become responsible for turning public opinion against them.”