According to official figures, the total population of Pakistan is 208 millions. Of these, 3.60% are said to belong to religious minorities, around half of which are Christians. Nevertheless ‘official’ figures are disputed by Christian leaders who suggest Christians may today represent 13% of the nation’s population. Whatever the truth of statistics, the news media regularly highlights the plight of Christians who are frequently subjected to violence, persecution, harassment and even death, often as a result of false claims of blasphemy against Islam. So it comes as welcome relief to hear of a group of young Muslims protesting in Lahore in support of religious minorities. Pakistani NGO ‘Bargad’ organised a demonstration of over 500 young Muslims to campaign for the end of discrimination and prejudice against religious minorities.
This Islamic youth movement committed to stop calling Pakistani Christians by their derogatory Urdu name, ‘Isai’. Instead the group resolved to call Christians ‘Masih’, which means ‘people of the Messiah’. By labelling Christians with this new term the group hope to give Pakistani Christians a positive identity. Each participant promises to pass this message on to 100 more people. BARGAD has partnered with the Youth Affairs Department with the Government of Punjab, and the Punjab Institute of Language, Art & Culture to promote equal citizenship, tolerance and interfaith harmony.
The project engages and trains youth on themes of social cohesion and equal citizenship. Trainees are committed to social action within their respective communities and campuses, and there is advocacy work around better implementation of laws and policies related to minorities in the Punjab province. The project continues to the end of March 2018 and aims to see, ‘hate speech gradually reduced and replaced with a positive narrative of social harmony’, and also a ‘civil society advocating for reforms, better implementation of laws and policies to reduce violent extremism, and promote equal rights and opportunities for all citizens regardless of faith and ethnicity’. Kamran Michael, the only Christian senator in Pakistan, has been highlighting the project’s importance.
Source: Christian Today; Pakistan Christian Post
Bible Study: Acts 10:20-22
DECEMBER PRAISE God Muslim youth have acted righteously and sought to uphold equal rights for Christians.
PRAY for their salvation and attitudes towards Christians.