Christmas celebrations: Pakistan minorities get a breathing space
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2015-12-26 09:02:59

Christmas celebrations: Pakistan minorities get a breathing space

 

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Somalia has banned Christmas and New Year celebrations because they are ‘contrary to Islamic culture’ – days after a similar move by the Sultan of Brunei.Director General of Somalia’s Ministry of Religious Affairs, Sheikh Mohamed Khayrow, warned that security forces would break-up any gatherings held in the capital Mogadishu.He said: ‘All events related to Christmas and New Year celebrations are contrary to Islamic culture, which could damage aqidah (faith) of the Muslim community.’There should be no activity at all.’  Sheikh Nur Barud Gurhan, deputy chairman of the Supreme Religious Council of Somalia, said Christian events might provoke further attacks by the Muslim terror group Al Shabaab, it was reported by Ugandan daily New Vision. He said: ‘We Islamic Scholars are warning against the celebration of such events which are not relevant to the principles of our religion. Such events give also Al Shabaab to carry out attacks.’

Meanwhile Pakistan is doing somewhat better by not officially banning celebrations of religious holidays of minority communities, and the leadership too has seen it fit to participate on a few occasions, demonstrating some semblance of openness tolerance at a time of general upheaval in the Muslim world. Christians in Pakistan are a minority under threat wherever they live or work. Never a year passes without there being one or more incidents in which Christian communities are attacked, homes and livelihoods destroyed, lives lost. Some of the Christian churches run an ‘underground railway’ that helps families deemed to be at risk to leave Pakistan. It is not a free service; they have to sell everything to fund their departure from the mother country. Those with nothing to sell have no option but to stick it out as best they can. Over the years, creeping intolerance across society has been twisting itself like a vine around the country’s minorities, to the point where there is genuine hesitation on their part to openly practise their faith or celebrate their holidays. This wasn’t always the case in Pakistan. There was a time when Christmas was a festive occasion in most parts of the country, particularly in Karachi where balls were held in hotels and Christmas trees could be seen in many public locations. All that is now gone or is confined largely to churches and a few select shops and malls participating in the season’s cheer. Indeed, there have been incidents where they have been attacked, killed or have seen their homes being burned down. It was positive to see the leadership partaking of Diwali and Christmas festivities with members of the Hindu and Christian communities. But the challenge ahead is much bigger, and cannot be met through a few gestures. There are ingrained attitudes as well as economic disparities that need to be addressed, in addition to reforming a legal framework that enshrines discrimination.

pk.shafaqna.com

 

Categories:   Pakistan ، Society ،
Tags:   pakistan ، Minorities ، Christmas ،
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