Edinburgh: A Glasgow based human rights organisation, Global Minorities Alliance (GMA) was invited to participate in a discussion panel during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015. The programme addressed the question “Are there limits when it comes to religion and free speech?” and was hosted by the Edinburgh Interfaith Association which promotes respect and understanding among all faiths in Edinburgh and across the world.
The event was organised as a response to the Charlie Hebdo tragedy in France earlier this year, to discuss and debate the global issues of religious freedom and free expression.
The panel consisted of Shahid Khan, a journalist from Pakistan, Fadel Soliman, an Imam from Egypt, and Thiago Alves Pinto, a legal expert from Brazil, who shared their thoughts about religion and freedom expression in the contemporary world. Continue reading →
A few years ago I visited Youhanabad, one of the largest Christian neighbourhood in Punjab, Pakistan. I remember the endless houses and an acute sense of love and unity in the air. Today this sense of a peaceful community has gone and instead blood, violence and destruction show their grim presence after 15 innocent people, including seven Muslims, died last week in the wake of suicide Church bomb attacks on 15 March 2015.
The unfortunate history of minorities in Pakistan is littered with violence and institutional discrimination at all levels. Minorities are ‘othered’ by the land they belong to. Their patriotism is questioned and their loyalty to the country is often mingled with doubt and suspicion. Are Christians alienated in their own country?
This week’s 9/11-style attack on France has sent shockwaves through the nation and the entire world, as terrorists murdered 17 people in coordinated assaults in Paris both in the offices of satirical magazine and at a Jewish Kosher supermarket.
Among the dead are some of France’s top cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, which lampoons all religions and which has been regarded as the last true heir of the French revolutionary and republican traditions.
There has been an outpouring of solidarity and sympathy from all corners of the world for the victims, both on social media as well as in central Paris where more than 100,000 people gathered on Wednesday night to express their defiance. This is a prime example of resilience in the face of this blatant attack on freedom and democracy, which the French nation is privileged to promote. Vigils and moments of silence across the world have been organised in the memory of those who died.