ASIA/PAKISTAN - Protests against the blasphemous film: religious leaders demand respect, harmony and peace
Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - The protests against the blasphemous film about Muhammad "The Innocence of Muslims" inflame Pakistan: in all provinces there are continuous demonstrations, while religious leaders try to quell the spirits and restore harmony.
In Karachi, the great metropolis of the province of Sindh (in the South), demonstrators of the radical movement "Sunni Tehreek" took to the streets yesterday in the center, paralyzing the city. Also in Sindh, marches were held in Hyderabad, Sukkur, Jacobabad and Mirpur Khas. In Punjab, the country's key province, extremist groups gathered outside the U.S. consulate in Lahore, and Muslim students took to the streets. In Dera Ismail Khan a massive student demonstration chanted condemning slogans, while University students of Bahauddin Zakariya protested in Multan. In Peshawar, in the North of the country, the police used tear gas to deter protesters from going in front of the American consulate.
An appeal for calm has come from religious leaders of the "National Council for Interreligious Dialogue", consisting of Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh leaders and from other faiths, and led by the Franciscan Father Francis Nadeem OFM Cap, Lahore. As reported to Fides, in a joint statement the leaders express their full solidarity with the Muslims, and pray for the filmmakers so that "they use their talents not to offend but to promote world peace and social harmony." The Council, noting that the Pakistani institutions are committed to respecting all religions, ask the United Nations to take action against the abuse of freedom of expression.
Yesterday, during Masses, Christians recited special prayers for peace in Pakistan. The pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Lahore, Fr. Inayat Bernard, said: "We are close to our Muslim brothers and sisters in promoting respect for all religions." (PA-IB) (Agenzia Fides 19/09/2012)
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