11/30/2011, 00.00
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Faisalabad, Christians and Muslims for peace and interfaith harmony

by Shafique Khokhar
NCJP organizes a meeting attended by leading Catholics, Muslims and politicians. In the city the scene of inter-religious violence in 2010, activists seek review of laws that promote hatred, such as the blasphemy laws. Muslim exponent: respect the faith of others.
Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - Giving new impetus to the peace process between Muslims and Christians, involving politicians, religious leaders and prominent figures in civil society. This is the objective of the seminar held last November 27 in Faisalabad, Punjab, organized by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Church of Pakistan (NCJP). Last year the city was the scene of violent interdenominational clashes, triggered by an alleged blasphemy case against two Christians, following the allegations, a mob attacked places of worship and killed two brothers outside the court (see AsiaNews 19/07/2010 On trial for blasphemy, two Christian brothers murdered in Faisalabad).

A few months later, the organizers' aim is to promote a climate of detente between the different religious confessions and give rise to a peaceful, tolerant and multi-faith Pakistan, as indicated by the nation's founder Ali Jinnah in his famous 1947 speech. Speaking at the meeting, Fr. Nisar Barkat asked that "the factions responsible for the climate of sectarian hatred" be "brought to justice." He invokes both "adequate steps" designed to amend "discriminatory laws and policies", along with " reprehensible social behavior."

The president of the Punjab Assembly Khalil Tahir Sandhu paid tribute to the memory of two great Christian figures such as Bishop John Joseph and the Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, killed at a distance of 13 years because of the "black law". The politician calls for "building bridges" and encourages "relationships marked by harmony" between different communities, without being overcome by fear and suspicion. The former MP George Clement adds that "conflicts arise when you do not accept the views of others" and cause "hatred, violence and intolerance."

The meeting was also attended by Mehboob-ul-Zaman Butt, deputy secretary of the Punjab section of the Muslim Jamat Islami movement, who stressed that "there would be no confessional background to problems in Pakistan, if people practiced their faith and respected their fellow citizens ". People must put aside their personal differences, adds the Islamic leader, to promote a "culture of forgiveness and tolerance." His words were echoed by Rana Uzair, president of the Islamic Shabab-e-Milli, who points his finger at "the powerful" who manipulate the truth and are a source of discord, because "they are believed and taken as right regardless of what they say or do. "

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