04/14/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Since March 21, most of Pakistan has been placed on lockdown as authorities seek to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This national lockdown has significantly affected the country’s poor and vulnerable communities, including religious minorities. The lockdown has also laid bare the discrimination religious minorities in Pakistan face on a daily basis and in times of emergency.
On April 5, more than 100 Christian families from Sandha Kalan village, located in the Kasur district of Pakistan’s Punjab province, were excluded from a distribution of food aid. According to local sources, these Christians were told by Sheikh Abdul Haleem Hamid, a cleric at the local mosque, that the food aid was only to be distributed to Muslims.
This incident was reported to the multiple sources, including International Christian Concern (ICC), by a local Muslim activist named Shakeel Ahmed.
“I condemn this inhumane and discriminatory act by my Muslim village fellows and stand in solidarity with the poor Christian population of the village,” Ahmed told ICC on April 6. “Therefore a group of like-minded individuals are collecting donations from liberal Muslims to extend foodstuff to this vulnerable segment; the Christians of this country.”
Ahmed’s actions did not stop at reporting and condemning the incident of discrimination. He went on to secure critical food aid for the Christian families of Sandha Kalan village.
According to Asia News, Ahmed connected with a local Catholic organization distributing aid and told them about the situation faced by Christians in Sandha Kalan village. He then helped organized this distribution of the aid to the desperate Christian families.
ICC has documented multiple incidents in which religious minorities, including Christians and Hindus, were denied food aid amid the COVID-19 crisis in Pakistan. More must be done to secure equal access to aid for these vulnerable communities.
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