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Convert to Islam and walk free

 

LAHORE (UCAN): A large group of some 60 Christians facing charges over their involvement in the lynching of two people in Pakistan was told by the prosecuting lawyer, Syed Anees Shah, that if they would agree to convert to Islam he would have all charges against them dropped.

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Only minorities need apply for dirty jobs

MULTAN (UCAN): A government job advertisement in Pakistan singling out Christians, Hindus and Shia Muslims for sweeper jobs have drawn the ire of the Church, as well as human rights advocates.

The advertisement for sweepers, a designation put on people who clean the streets, public areas, do waste removal and sanitation work, was placed by local government officials in Bannu district in northwestern Pakistan in a local Urdu daily on March 17.

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Put downs in Pakistan census

LAHORE (AsiaNews): Christians and Sikh religious leaders have issued an appeal to the Pakistani government to ensure that the first census in 19 years is accurate and complete.

Some prominent minority group leaders point to errors in the census’ religious and demographic categories.

There is no separate entry for Sikhs, Baha’is and Parsees, and Sikh leaders are organising demonstrations and protests in several districts.

Although recognised, Christians are referred to under a derogatory term dating back to British rule.

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Two eyes for a tooth

KARACHI (AsiaNews): The government in Pakistan set about taking two eyes for a tooth when it launched a bloody crackdown on Islamist terror groups in retaliation for the February 16 attack on a Sufi temple in the Sindh, which left 80 people dead.

Police have been rampaging around Karachi and other major cities in the country, reporting that they have flushed out and killed over 100 people suspected of terrorist activities. Islamabad is also pressuring Kabul to return 76 more that are in hiding in Afghanistan.

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Mob acquitted of attack on Christian village

LAHORE (UCAN): An anti-terrorism court acquitted 106 people accused of being involved in a 2013 arson attack on the Christian village of Joseph Colony, Lahore, Pakistan.

On 9 March 2013, thousands of people armed with sticks and stones stormed Joseph Colony and set about 150 houses ablaze over allegations of blasphemy against Sawan Masih, a Christian.

Hundreds of homes, shops, vehicles and three churches were torched by the raging mob.

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Mob acquitted of attack on Christian village

LAHORE (UCAN): An anti-terrorism court acquitted 106 people accused of being involved in a 2013 arson attack on the Christian village of Joseph Colony, Lahore, Pakistan.

On 9 March 2013, thousands of people armed with sticks and stones stormed Joseph Colony and set about 150 houses ablaze over allegations of blasphemy against Sawan Masih, a Christian.

Hundreds of homes, shops, vehicles and three churches were torched by the raging mob.

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Ecumenism is needed

LAHORE (AsiaNews): “Unity must be a visible thing in Pakistan. Instead of meeting only when a church is attacked or in crisis situations, we should meet in times of peace,” Father Inayat Bernard, from St. Mary’s Seminary, said in the run up to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

He said, “Church leaders still have many reservations about other denominations and not everyone feels comfortable in going to another Church.”

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Protection order is serious

KARACHI (UCAN): It has been two years since the Supreme Court in Pakistan ordered the state to protect the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, but the response from the government has been lacklustre and Church leaders have expressed concern.

The court ruling on 19 June 2014 ordered the federal government to create a national council for the rights of minorities and provincial governments to set up task forces for religious tolerance, protect places of worship and crack down on hate speech.

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Pax Christi recognises rights groups in Pakistan

GENEVA (SE): The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan were jointly awarded the Pax Christi International Peace Award for 2016 at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland, on November 17.

Cecil Chaudhry, from the Justice and Peace Commission, accepted the award from Greet Vanaerschot, the secretary general of Pax Christi International, on behalf of both groups.

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Putting Christmas back on the rails

LAHORE (UCAN): The Railways and Human Rights Ministries in Pakistan ran a special train over the Christmas period to express solidarity with the minority Christian community and promote interfaith harmony.

State-run Associated Press Pakistan quoted unnamed officials as saying what they termed a special human rights train was the first rail service to celebrate a minority festival.

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