Pakistan: Undaunted Christians still go to Church Despite Islamist Threats
Muslim religious scholar Dr Khalid Zaheer said, “We owe freedom of expression, tolerance and love to religious minorities. The current attitude reflects a lack of confidence in our own faith.”
By Roderick Samson
02/04/2011 Pakistan (Spero News)-After the killing of former governor Salmaan Taseer and the ensuing protests, Lahore’s Christian community finds itself in a quandary. Nervous about their status in the city, many Christians are laying low so as to not draw any attention to themselves. The fear of being declared ‘blasphemers’ has gripped many in the community.
Lalaza Masih, a middle-aged Christian man who resides in east Lahore, standing outside his brick flat explained that the city’s attitude towards the Christian community had changed. “Generally, people in the community fear discussing religion with others. My neighbours and I don’t really interact much,” he said.
“The thing is we are scared that we are being watched and suddenly some allegations leading to a fatwa will materialize,” he added. Masih agreed that it was uncomfortable to live like this but on the other hand he said his attitude had ensured that he did not have any religious confrontation. He lamented that the openness the city’s Christian community once showed had now disappeared. There were only a few areas which allowed for interaction between religious communities, he said.
Anarkali resident Nasreen said that since Taseer’s death there had been a sharp change in the attitudes in her area but feelings of intolerance had been building for some time. She said many had disparaging names for Christians and members of the community employed as laborers and domestic workers were intimidated.
“I think its best for us if we just stay quiet and not make a fuss,” said Nasreen.
Religious scholar Dr Khalid Zaheer said, “We owe freedom of expression, tolerance and love to religious minorities. The current attitude reflects a lack of confidence in our own faith.”
Dr Zaheer said, “We cannot reason in an environment of tension. We are scaring our minorities. God will not spare us.”