More than three thousand angry Christians held a protest rally in Lahore yesterday condemning sale of shoes incorporating Christian crosses.
Some Muslim leaders joined the protestors, who were wearing black armbands and headbands. Chanting anti government slogans, they burned tires on the road.
The protest ended after pastors led hymn singing.
“This is no drama. Our Christian identity has been insulted as Christmas approaches”, said Pastor Samuel King, president of the Pakistan Minorities Movement (PMM).
The group had previously confiscated 1,200 pairs of shoes, inscribed with a cross and Christmas symbols, from a shop. Its owner was arrested on November 26 but freed by police after three days.
Gulzar Nqavi, a Shia Muslim who joined the protestors, condemned the indifference of the authorities. “Many Christians visit Muslim shrines; they also hang posters of Nalain Pak (sandals of the Prophet Mohammad) in their houses”, he said.
The PMM also issued a press statement demanding the re-arrest of the shopkeeper and announced a continued movement in absence of any action.
Kanwal Feroz, chief editor of a Christian monthly, also demanded action for blasphemy. “Deliberate or not; this action has hurt the minority community which severely bore the burnt of the blasphemy laws”, he said.
Christians say implementation of Islamic laws of apostasy and blasphemy in the constitution have victimized minorities on basis of business rivalry and personal grudges. However, debate against the controversial laws ended this year after the murder of the Catholic federal minister of minorities.