08/10/2013, 00.00
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Faisalabad: Christians and Muslims together to combat human rights violations

by Shafique Khokhar
Thwarting attacks against minorities and defending most vulnerable targets set as main aims of interfaith group. And again, to curb abuses arising from the blasphemy laws and settle disputes or abuse "before they degenerate." A public meeting in Faisalabad has laid down the guidelines for the birth of a new inter-confessional network.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - A network of "Christian and Muslim" activists to monitor human rights violations, respect for freedom of expression and association, attacks against religious minorities and vulnerable groups, to create a "harmonious and peaceful" society. This is the objective that emerged during the meeting sponsored by the Human Rights Defenders (HRDS) and by the activists of the Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (Awam) in recent days in Faisalabad, Punjab. The event was attended by over 50 experts in the field, including aid workers, religious leaders, journalists, politicians, lawyers and leaders of youth movements of different schools of thought.

In the future, this network of activists will be tasked with foiling pre-emptive attacks against communities or individuals (such as the past events in Gojra, where the Christian minority was attacked over an alleged case of blasphemy), to guarantee the right to free expression and assembly, as well as worship. And it is precisely the "black law" - which punishes with death or life imprisonment those who desecrate the name of Muhammad or profane the Koran - to which Naveed Walter refers: "the blasphemy law - he explains - affects Christians and Muslims, who become the target of false accusations. The law is often abused to target rivals, opponents or settle personal vendettas. "

Naseem Anthony, a Christian activist, told AsiaNews "It is pertinent for the human rights defenders to act as arbitrators to mitigate the life threats and control the mob attacks to reduce damages through early warning system mechanism, and mobilize local influential to help resolve the conflicts peacefully before they escalates".

The Christian activist Shazia George, who wants more dialogue and cooperation with that peaceful and tolerant part of the Muslim world in Pakistan, intends to fight "against religious extremism and political parties that foment intolerance." Her words are echoed by Suneel Malik, for whom "religious intolerance is far more dangerous and deadly to human civilization than the atomic bomb."

Muslim activists have also denounced fundamentalism. The journalist Jahangir Ashfar confirmed that "the religious leaders play a crucial role in promoting harmony in society and respect for diversity, avoiding sermons that incite hatred and insult the followers of another religion." This view was shared by his colleague, also a Muslim, Iftikhar Ahmed for whom "human life is precious, so no community should be pursued for the faults of one individual. It is the task of the activists to resolve tense situations in a peaceful manner, preserving the lives of innocent citizens. "


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