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Low-profile X-mas celebrations

The Daily Times – Lahore , Pakistan (12/27/05)

Daily Times – Christians Celebrate Low-Profile Christmas

ISLAMABAD : The Christians minority held low-profile Christmas celebrations on Sunday because of the country’s earthquake disaster and recent attacks on their churches in a city.

Special prayers were held in churches across the country for the victims of the October 8 earthquake, the country’s senior Christian community leader Shahbaz Bhatti told AFP.

Bhatti, who heads the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, said Christians donated gifts after mass prayers for children in quake-hit areas. The quake killed more than 73,000 people and made another 3.5 million homeless.

“We decided to celebrate this Christmas on a low profile because of the massive earthquake destruction and last month’s attacks on our worship places in the city of Sangla Hill,” Bhatti said.

The attack in Sangla Hill, which also damaged several houses belonging to the minority community, was prompted by allegations that a Christian desecrated the Muslim holy book the Koran. The allegations have been denied.

Christians make up less than three percent of Pakistan ’s mainly Muslim population. They have long been demanding changes in the country’s blasphemy law to prevent its misuse by Islamic hardliners to harass minorities. President Pervez Musharraf, in a Christmas message, vowed that the rights and liberties of minorities would be protected.