03/21/2013, 00.00
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Pakistani Muslims: solidarity with Christians, victims of Lahore arson attack

by Shafique Khokhar
Over a thousand people attended an inter- religious conference. Hindu and Sikh leaders also present, as well as Saudi Muslim personalities. Appeal to Islamabad to punish those responsible for the attacks. Government of Punjab applauded for its support. Invitations to harmony and combat extremism.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Solidarity with the victims of anti-Christian violence in the Joseph Colony of Badami Bah (Lahore), where over 100 homes belonging to Christians were burned: an appeal to the central government to punish the perpetrators; appreciation for the leadership of the province of Punjab, who have set up a plan for immediate assistance. This was highlighted by more than a thousand participants at the Interfaith meeting held on March 15 in Lahore, attended by priests and religious, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh leaders, parliamentarians and representatives of the media, to mark a "Day of Solidarity".

The initiative, supported by 30 leaders from different religious communities, was promoted by Maulana Abdul Khubair Aazad, leader of the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore. At the end of the meeting, Hazrat Qari Bashir Ahmad, a Saudi cleric born in Medina, reiterated solidarity with the religious minorities of Pakistan and offered "special prayers" for peace and harmony in society.

AsiaNews spoke to prominent religious and secular figures present at the meeting, which re-launched the commitment to co-existence and unity according to the ideals of Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan. For Maulana Abdul Khubair Aazad all religious leaders "must promote harmony" and he expressed "deep sorrow" for the attack on the Christians. His sentiments were echoed by the Sunni Muslim leader Allama Muhammad Khan Laghari who invited people of goodwill to "combat extremism" and those who oppose the idea of ​​peaceful coexistence. Among the Muslim clerics present was Shia Allama Zubair Ahmad who described the anti-Christian attack as being "against Islam [...]only peace and harmony can create a prosperous nation."

Among the many Christian personalities present was Fr. Nisar Barkat, diocesan director of NCJP and Fr. Emmanuel Mani, National Director of NCJP (National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Church). Fr. Francis Nadeem paid tribute to the Muslim leaders and thanked them for the messages of solidarity, expressing the hope that tragedies like Joseph Colony and Gojra will not be repeated. "I'm really happy - he added - that the Punjab government has immediately helped the victims." The Hindu MP Bhawan Daas also mentioned the persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim minority, while the Sikh leader Janam Singh added that "fraternal cooperation is key to avoiding such tragedies."


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