Saturday, March 30, 2013

Relgious Freedom in Pakistan? Sure, as Long as Your Church Looks More Islamic Than Christian

According to this, Pakistan is a bastion of interfaith harmony:
Ottawa – When All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus on 31 March and the streets of the ancient city ring with a message of peace and hope, there will be nothing unusual about it. Easter processions are a tradition in this predominantly Muslim country.

The All Saints Church marks its 130th anniversary, at the same time that Al-Rashid Mosque in Edmonton, Canada turns 75. The two institutions share more than an important anniversary year, celebrations will focus on the role these institutions have played in nurturing the religious and spiritual needs of their respective communities. And somewhat obscured yet more relevant in the current climate of religious distrust is the desire of the founders of these institutions to reach out to other communities.

Rather than projecting their unique identities as Christian and Muslim places of worship, both All Saints Church and Al-Rashid blend in with the local landscape, signalling that they respect religious pluralism and want to engage with other faith groups.

Amid magnificent places of worship like St. Anthony’s Church in Lahore and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Karachi, All Saints Church in Peshawar cuts a different profile— so different, indeed, that it is not unusual for Muslims to turn up here for their congregational prayers. Churches built in Pakistan during the British Raj typically highlight the European heritage of their colonial builders. But All Saints Church stands apart for its neighbourliness. Nestled inside the walled city, this serene white structure has domes and minarets like a mosque and a minbar, or wooden high chair, which is a common fixture in mosques that imams sit upon during the sermon. Utilising these local architectural motifs, All Saints Church highlights Christianity as integral to Pakistan beyond its colonial legacy.
In conclusion,
Canadians’ respect for freedom of religion resonates with Islam. And when the congregation of All Saints Church winds through the narrow streets of Peshawar singing the message of peace next Sunday, people of faith everywhere will be singing with them. 
Makes one feel all warm 'n' cozy, no?

Given Peshawar's peaceableness, I guess this is an anomaly:
LAHORE, Pakistan – Hundreds of people in eastern Pakistan rampaged through a Christian neighborhood Saturday, torching dozens of homes after hearing reports that a Christian man had committed blasphemy against Islam’s prophet.  
Blasphemy is a serious crime in Pakistan that can carry the death penalty but sometimes outraged residents exact their own retribution for perceived insults of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Pakistan is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim and people of other faiths, including the nation’s small Christian community, are often viewed with suspicion.  
The incident started Friday when a young Muslim man accused a Christian man of committing blasphemy by making offensive comments about the prophet, according to Multan Khan, a senior police officer in Lahore.  
A large crowd from a nearby mosque went to the Christian man’s home on Friday night, said Khan. Police registered a blasphemy case against the man after the crowd gathered and demanded action, the officer said.  
Fearing for their safety, hundreds of Christian families fled the area overnight...
I think these Christians need to build one of those more "neighbourly," non-Imperialistic churches that resembles a mosque--you know, like they have in Peshawar.

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