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Book tackles thorny blasphemy issue

Jesuit says debate requires 'understanding the question correctly'

Book tackles thorny blasphemy issue
Jesuit Fr Christian Troll signs copies of his new book on Muslim-Christian dialogue reporter, Lahore

February 24, 2012

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A senior Supreme Court lawyer yesterday said a new book on Muslim-Christian relations could help ease tensions among the two groups created by recurring allegations of blasphemy. Abid Hassan Minto addressed a group of about 600 people at the launch of the book Muslim Swalat, Masihi Jwabat (Muslims Ask, Christians Answer), which aims to strengthen interreligious dialogue and clarify issues related to allegations of blasphemy against Christians, at the Dominican Peace Center in Lahore. “The vague definition of blasphemy and biased school syllabuses endanger all minorities,” he said, adding that religion in Pakistan should play no role in politics or the operations of the state. Dominican Fr James Channan, regional coordinator of the United Religious Initiative who sponsored the event, said fear of persecution makes true dialogue on doctrine difficult. “Several blasphemy cases were reported after religious discourses went awry. The book can help people engaged in interfaith initiatives.” Nasir Khan, a producer at the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV), translated the book, written by German Jesuit Father Christian Troll, who also attended the launch event. Fr Troll said Muslims had asked him to narrate political and economic differences between [Muslims and Christians]. “It is an endeavor to promote a culture of mutual conversation among religiously educated Pakistanis. Understanding the question correctly is crucial in such debates.” Some 1,000 copies of the book have been published so far, and the work has also been translated into seven languages. Hundreds of people, most of them Muslims, have been harassed and killed by the misuse of blasphemy laws, according to local media reports. Eighteen cases were reported in the first six months of last year, most of them in Punjab province. Related reports More blood from blasphemy Blasphemy is now a death sentence
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