22 March 2018

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08/12/2017 PAKISTAN

Lahore, ethnic and religious minorities ask for an end to discrimination

It is necessary to ensure effective political participation and representation of religious minorities. An appeal is issued on National Minorities Day. Tehreek Rwadari makes some proposals.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Rwadari Tehreek (RT) on Wednesday, National Minorities Day, issued an appeal in favour of pluralism and harmony to counter the prevalent culture of intolerance, extremism and violence.

RT wants the federal and provincial governments and all other stakeholders to meet the challenge and protect the rights and freedoms of Pakistani minorities.

In a statement, RT chairman Samson Salamat expressed great concern over the dangerous rise in discrimination and violence against religious minorities and their faith.

"Pakistani citizens who belong to minority communities are forced to accept jobs in which they are highly discriminated” like garbage collection, domestic work, construction, “but so far nothing has been done to put an end to this," the statement said.

The issue requires a political solution, but the corridors of power lack genuine representation from religious minorities because of their ineffective presence at all levels of Pakistan’s democratic system.

On Minority Day, RT released a sort of "Charter" with various proposals.

First of all, the speech of 11 August 1947 by Pakistan's founder Ali Jinnah to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan should be included in the Preamble of the Constitution of Pakistan as well as in the statutes of all institutions and schools.

Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, during his first speech at the constituent assembly, said: "We are all citizens and equal citizens of one state…. Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal, and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State."

Second. A package of constitutional reforms should be developed in consultation with religious minorities and civil society in order to put an end to discrimination and bias, ensuring effective political participation and representation to religious minorities.

Third. An Independent Minorities Commission should be established at the federal and provincial levels through an act of Parliament and should have the powers of a tribunal in case of violations of minority rights.

Fourth. Mechanisms should be put in place for the effective implementation of the Supreme Court Judgement of 2014 on the Protection of Minorities.

Fifth. Laws that lend themselves to dubious interpretations to instigate people to violence should be reviewed because they have led to the destruction of lives and property of members of religious minorities.

Sixth. An independent commission of inquiry should be set up to assess the issue of forced conversion of women and girls from religious minorities. The Commission's findings should be made public and those involved in forced conversion should be apprehended. Moreover, a law banning forced conversion should be adopted.

Seventh. An effective de-radicalisation plan needs to be implemented. It should include a ban on hate speech, terrorist propaganda and on those who promote and finances it.

See also

03/01/2004 india
'Reconversion' claim by Hindu group increases tension in Gujarat

14/09/2013 LAOS
Laotian authorities take aim at Christian families with threats of expulsion and abuse
Eleven families in a village in the central province of Bolikhamsai risk expulsion because they converted to Christianity. Their village chief told them to return to their traditional religion, but they refused, choosing instead to continue to worship as they wish. A struggle for religious freedom is underway in a country where this principle has been often violated.

16/05/2017 10:35:00 INDIA
Karnataka, Pentecostal Christians assaulted by Hindu extremists for 'forced conversions'

The episodes of violence occurred at Ramamurthy Nagar and Lingarajapuram, suburbs of Bangalore. In both cases, the extremists attacked the Christians and burned brochures with Gospel songs. Sajan K George: "The only goal is to foment sectarian tensions."

08/05/2017 17:21:00 BANGLADESH
A constant “trickle” of conversions to Islam in Bangladesh

Police report a new trend, namely Hindu converts to violent Islam. Hindus have always been harassed by majority Muslims. Fundamentalists put pressure on weak and marginalised people. Saudi funds for madrasas and mosques are a source of disagreement. Even if they do not boost terrorism, Islamic centres may boost fundamentalism.

25/11/2016 13:33:00 PAKISTAN
Sindh approves law against forced conversions, "positive and encouraging"

The legislation proposed by an Islamic group and unanimously approved. Christian and Muslim activists emphasize the positive aspects. Penalties for offenders and for those celebrating forced marriages. The process to bring proceedings within 90 days of report; minors who convert before age 18 will not be judged.

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