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GLOBAL MOVEMENT FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE

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One Nation, One Blood (Pakistan)
an article by Megan Andre

On September 22nd, 2013, there was an attack on the All Saints Church in Peshawar, a Christian church in the main town in Khyber Paktunkhwa province. A twin suicide bombing that occurred after a Sunday mass resulted in the death of over 100 people. According to Sahibzada Anees, one of Peshawar’s senior officials, the area is a target of terrorism and there was supposed to be a special security arrangement for the church, but something went wrong. This event is believed to be the country’s deadliest attack on Christians.



click on photo to enlarge

On October 6th, 2013, 200-300 people formed a human chain outside the St Anthony’s Church adjacent to the District Police Lines at the Empress Road in a show of solidarity. Mufti Mohammad Farooq delivered a sermon in the small courtyard of St Anthony’s Church that preached tolerance and respect for other’s beliefs. Father Nasir Gulfam, who was inside conducting service inside the church, came out after his service and stood next to Farooq, and the two men stood hand in hand as part of the human chain that was formed outside the church.

Many people held signs up, mostly saying ‘One Nation, One Blood’ and ‘No More Dialogue… Only Action!” The point of this chain was to try to sensitize the public at large to these attacks, and to try to prove that Muslims and Christians can live in solidarity with one another.

Only around two percent of the 180 million people in Pakistan are Christian, and they complain of growing discrimination. Pakistan’s Ulema Council, an association of leading Muslim scholars, strongly condemned the church attack and said killing innocent people violates the tenets of Islam. “It is an extremely shameful attack which has shamed all Pakistanis and Muslims,” Allama Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, chief of the council, told AFP.

Mohammed Jibran Nasir, the organizer who made the calls for the events on social media, flew out with his group to St Anthony’s Church to participate in the human chain. He and his group advocate the need for interfaith humanity. Nasir originally launched a Facebook campaign, asking people to visit their local mosques and request their Imams (the Muslim worshipper who leads the recitation of prayer) to condemn the Peshawar Blast. Although unsuccessful at first, he stated “I was persistent as I believe that this is the only way to create change”. He eventually got his own Imam to mention something about the attacks. It wasn’t much, but he believes baby steps are better than no steps.

Overall, the goal of the human chain, as mentioned above, is to prove that the insurgents that were responsible for this attack should not define Muslims at large. In order for change to occur and for these attacks to come to an end, there needs to be a more outward show of peace between Christians and Muslims, or even cross-cutting religions in general. What happened on September 22nd was an awful occurrence, and it seems that it has opened the eyes of Pakistanis.

DISCUSSION

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This report was posted on October 6, 2013.