ASIA/PAKISTAN - Religious leaders: Pakistan asks UN a resolution against blasphemy

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "We, the participants at the conference on respect for religions ask you to immediately prohibit the diffusion of the film 'The Innocence of Muslims'. We ask the government of Pakistan and civil society organizations to present a resolution of condemnation in the UN": This is what, in a joint statement, the Muslim religious leaders, Christians, Hindus say, gathered in Lahore in a seminar organized by "National Council for Interreligious Dialogue" and the "United Religions Initiative." While the Christian community in Pakistan is shocked by the destruction of the Anglican Church of St. Paul in Mardan (province of Khyber Pakhthunkwa), set on fire by a mob of radicals, religious leaders are pushing for a UN resolution that condemns "defamation and contempt against religions." Paul Bhatti, a Catholic Minister for Harmony, assured that "he will speak with the Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki Moon," recalling that in Pakistan "Christians and Muslims have lived together for centuries" and that "we must not allow anyone to break our harmony, " invoking the " common respect for religions." Among the Christian leaders who spoke at the seminar, Fr. Pascal Paulus, provincial of the Dominicans in Pakistan, stressed the importance of dialogue, while the Director of the "National Council for Interreligious Dialogue," Fr. Inayat Bernard, expressing solidarity with Muslims, said that the Council organizes seminars, meetings, prayers, conferences to "work together for religious harmony." The Sikh leader Sardar Singh Ternjeet said that "freedom of speech should be used with responsibility," while the Hindu leader Bhagat Lal stressed that "all the sacred books cannot be ridiculed by other religions, because it brings disharmony." Among the Muslim leaders present, Allama Muhammad Tahir Baghdadi called on the faithful to "express disappointment and to react in a peaceful manner," because "no one has the right to harm human beings." Kanwal Feroze, editor of the Urdu monthly "Shadab" recalled that in the past, during episodes of desecration towards the name of Jesus, Christians protested peacefully. (PA-IB) (Agenzia Fides 26/09/2012)