30 June 2011
Pakistani Christians drum up support for their protest against blasphemy laws
The South Asian Forum (SAF) is inviting all people to join them at a peaceful protest calling for Pakistan to reform its harsh blasphemy laws.
The march is being organised by the British Pakistani Christian Association that represents Britain's estimated 8,174 Pakistani Christians of whom half are Roman Catholic. SAF, which represents South Asian Christians and is part of the Evangelical Alliance, will be helping lead the march.
The march begins at 11am on Saturday (2 July) outside the Pakistan High Commission at 34-36 Lowndes Square, Knightsbridge, London. At 2pm demonstrators will then head to the prime minister's residence at 10 Downing Street. The protest ends at 3pm.
At these two addresses, demonstrators will hand in two separate petitions calling for the UK government to press its Pakistani counterpart to revise its blasphemy laws which they say have been used as a tool for oppression and an opportunity to settle personal vendettas between tribes and families. They are asking that the laws are revised so that they can better protect people of all faiths and in particular those of minority religious groups.
Manoj Raithatha, national co-ordinator for SAF, said: "As the British Pakistani Christian community is so small and scattered, we are calling all people, irrespective of their nationality and religious beliefs, to join us on Saturday. We believe this protest is an opportunity to promote interfaith harmony and to highlight Pakistan's poor performance in human rights."
Mr Raithatha will be speaking at the rally along with Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who is himself a Pakistani Christian. Also speaking will be Dr Martin Stern, a Jewish Holocaust survivor and former medical student at Peshawar University; along with Imam Dr Taj Hargey, of the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford, Ranbir Singh for the Hindu Human Rights Group, Upkar Rai of the British Sikh Council and Stuart Windsor from Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
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Notes to Editors
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