05/27/2005, 00.00
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Christians and Muslims together against Qu'ran desecration

by Qaiser Felix

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – Pakistani Christians will join the 'international day of protest against the desecration of the Holy Qu'ran" called by the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), an alliance of Islamic religious parties.

Mgr Evaristo Pinto, Auxiliary Bishop of Karachi, told AsiaNews that "we condemn the desecration of the Qu'ran by US soldier in Guantanamo Bay, because as we respect our sacred books so we respect and give honour to those of other religions. This type of insult is not justified under any circumstances," he added.

Fr Aftab James Paul, diocesan director in Faisalabad for the National Commission for Inter-Religious Dialogue, said that "when we demand respect and honour for our religion, it is our duty to respect other religions and should not utter derogatory remarks or insult [their] holy books".

"We are completely united in protest with our Muslim brothers," he added.

On Thursday, J. Salik, a Christian and a former chairman of the Salik Peace Education Foundation, led a protest rally in Islamabad against the desecration of Quran. The participants protested against the sacrilege and stressed the need for fraternity and respect for all religions.

Mr Salik expressed his sadness over the Guantanamo Bay incident and said that "some anti-human elements were responsible for the events and were not loyal to the teachings of Christianity".

The MMA is planning five additional rallies in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta with its Women's wing joining.

The alliance's secretary general Liaquat Baloch said on Thursday that demonstrations will not be limited to Pakistan. Rallies are scheduled for another 34 Muslim countries, but on Sunday, protesters will take to the streets in 15 countries.

"The MMA urges all Pakistani political and religious groups to take part in the protests," he said.

The country's Christian, Hindu and Sick minorities are invited, and "assured their participation".

Leaders from across the political spectrum will also join the scheduled day of protest.

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, and Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, Chief Minister of Punjab, also urged their fellow political leaders to take part in the demonstrations.

Two opposition parties, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan People's Party, announced their participation.

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