Stop Violence in the name of religion: Signature Campaign – Karachi April 14, 2012‏

Citizens for Democracy (CFD) is responding to the call for another public signature campaign, and a performance, from the citizens of Karachi.

The theme
‘Live and let Live: Stop violence in the name of religion’
in front of Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim/opp. Park Towers, Clifton, Karachi
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Program schedule
Signature Campaign: 12pm – 6pm
Mural Drawing: 4pm – 5pm
Performance by Tehrik-e-Niswan (“Hum Rokaen Gay”): 5pm – 6pm

You are requested to please respond to this call, join us, invite friends and help spread the word.

Facebook Event Page

Those who can’t attend can sign the petition here

Letter Text

April 14, 2012
To: Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Yusuf Raza Gilani
Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Ch. Nisar Ali Khan
Dear Sirs,
Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah told the nation in his speech to the Constituent Assembly on Aug 11, 1947 that “You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed –that has nothing to do with the business of the State.” Sadly, this nation is today witnessing calls to demolish places of worships, killings and abduction in the name of religion, abductions and forced conversions (particularly of the Hindu community in Sindh) and a flood of hate mongering activities.

We urge you to intervene and stop the killing of Pakistan’s religious communities, specifically target killings those belonging to the Sunni (Barelvi), Shia (including Hazara) and Ahmadi communities who are facing a virtual genocide simply for following their religious beliefs and practices.

The attacks on the 12 Rabiul Awal processions cities around Pakistan are evidence of the menace of bigotry and intolerance, as are the target killings of Shias and Ahmadis. The government must act with all its might to put a stop to this. This needs to be done NOW.

1. We strongly condemn these threats of violence and urge the establishment of a code of ethics across the board that prohibits any religious or political party supporting those who victimize others.
2. The Government must ensure that the banned terrorist organizations are not able to operate, spread hatred and harm or threaten peaceful citizens.
3. The Government, both at the Federal and Provincial levels, must take immediate action against violence, threats and intimidation, especially those in the name of religion.
4. There is urgent need to institute a witness protection plan; the police must be empowered, enabled and de-politicized in order to act against those who violate basic human rights and engage in criminal acts in Pakistan.
5. The government must employ the full force of the law to ensure that no one attacks or threatens members of any community simply for following their religious beliefs and practices.

We hope that the government and all political parties will wake up to the growing evil of intolerance and bigotry that is fast turning into a monster and act up before it eats up the very foundations of our society.

Our friends and fellow Pakistani citizens initiated online petitions and wrote to the relevant authorities to protest the hate campaign and violence against Ahmadis specially by members of the so-called Difa-e-Pakistan Council, target-killing of Shias and other acts of violence in the name of religion.

Incidents where people are stopped, identified and killed for their religious beliefs are increasing in Pakistan, the only country where it’s a crime for Ahmadis to practice their religion. Forced conversions, attacks on Christian churches and false cases under blasphemy laws (including against Muslims of various sects) are becoming more and more common. The space for free practice of religion and civil public discourse is shrinking.

It is high time for Pakistanis to unite and raise collective voice against these trends before it’s too late. We must act NOW! We need to follow up the letter campaigns with a more visible public action. We need to make concrete, consistent and focused attempts for our survival, and consolidate the struggle to take our country back. Every little step counts, every effort will bring us together and will provide likeminded peoples an opportunity to unite.

Twitter @cfdpk

Cultural Activist Nafees Ghaznavi Passed On

Pakistani Canadian cultural activist Nafees Ghaznavi passed away in Pickering Ontario this July 7.

Nafees consistently supported initiatives for equality and human rights. In Toronto in the Eighties he was actively involved in South Asian Resources and Information (SARI) with Himani Bannerji, Poonam Khosla, Krisantha Sri Bhaggiyadatta, Judy Whitehead and others. During the Nineties, he moved back to Karachi where he continued to work for democratic change.

Nafees came to visit Canada to meet with friends earlier this month. However, he was living in a motel in Pickering, and died alone following a cardiac arrest. His body was found six days after his death.

Nafees was an advertising genius, and was instrumental in establishing Pakistan’s MNJ advertising company. Later, he went into travel business. He was a former editor of Canadian Asian News.

His neighbour in Karachi, Dancer/Activist Sheema Kermani, says this about him:

‘Nafees Ghaznavi was a wonderful human being, always a great supporter of the oppressed, supporter of all Left causes and a great supporter of my work and of Tehrik-e-Niswan. He was always there to help in any way he could. He was not just a personal friend but a great moral support as well. We will miss him.’
Sheema Kermani

Nafees was laid to rest in Pickering Cemetery Tuesday July 12.

Nafees Bhai, we will see you soon.