07/08/2020, 17.13
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Justice and Peace: In Lahore, not even COVID-19 has stopped religious intolerance

by Shafique Khokhar

Minorities are increasingly discriminated. A Christian dies after he was shot for buying a house in a Muslim neighbourhood. The Archbishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi calls on the authorities to protect all citizens, without distinction of belief. Attempts to block the construction of a Hindu temple are unconstitutional.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – The coronavirus pandemic has not stopped religious intolerance in Pakistan. This is the bitter comment from the National Commission of Justice and Peace (NCJP) after the recent death of a Catholic man who died after he was gunned down for buying a house in a Muslim neighborhood.

On 4 June, Nadeem Joseph was attacked by Muslim residents in the Sawati Phatak colony in Peshawar. The attackers, some of whom were immediately arrested (but not the leader of the attack), wanted to force the Christian and his family to abandon their home.

In a statement, the NCJP condemned the act of violence against Nadeem, calling on the authorities to do everything in their power to capture the main culprit.

“Everyone has the right to buy property in Pakistan,” the NCJP says. “This incident is a clear violation of human rights; it is an act against the law and cannot go unpunished.”

Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, urges the government to protect Nadeem’s family whose lives are now danger.

The prelate goes on to say that acts of discrimination are growing across the country, and that “the current government must take them seriously and provide protection to all religious minorities.”

Catholic Church leaders have been complaining of a growing climate of intolerance in the country. Minorities find it increasingly difficult to live in Pakistan. They are even discriminated in the distribution of food aid and COVID-19 health protections.

The attempt to block the construction of a Hindu temple in Islamabad is another example of hatred towards non-Muslims.

According to NCJP national director Fr Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani), the controversy over the Hindu temple reflects the age-old hostility of the Muslim majority's most conservative fringes towards minorities.

All this is contrary to the values ​​enshrined in the Constitution, which allows “religious minorities the freedom to profess religion and manage religious institutions.”

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