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Pakistan

Pakistan Christians urge liquor ban for Christmas

ucanews.com reporter, Lahore

ucanews.com reporter, Lahore

Updated: December 20, 2010 10:23 AM GMT
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Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore, Pakistan
Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore, Pakistan
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Christians in Lahore, Punjab, have launched an anti-alcohol campaign this Christmas, although a local priest says it may not be the best way to address the problem. “It is the easiest source of recreation for poor during the year, especially in Christmas season, that often leads to fights, sometimes blindness and occasional deaths," said Father Emmanuel Asi from St. John’s Catholic Church in Youhanabad suburb, home to 45 different Christian denominations. "But forbidding its usage by Christmas advertisements is an awkward way to address the pastoral problem.” A multi-denominational group has posted signs round the city saying, “Liquor, gambling and adultery are sinful. Merry Christmas.” hoping to reduce alcohol consumption during the holiday. The parish priest say, however, the problem is more complex than just alcohol. “Consuming sub-grade liquor is a major problem in Christian ghettos,” Father Asi said. Islamic laws prohibit production, supply and use of wine in the country, except for non-Muslims, who are able to purchase and drink liquor in a limited quantity. The Christian community, with a permit from the government, can buy up to six bottles of wine a month. Others can also purchase liquor upon showing a letter from the parish that validates their Christian identity. The media reported that the provincial assembly members admit elite Muslims also drink some liquor bought by the Christians. “The orders go to their peak in Christian and even Muslim feasts,” a liquor dealer told ucanews.com. The Christian Pakistan National Messiah party commented on the liquor ban saying, “Christians are notorious for using and selling liquor but the excise and taxation department is earning the revenue." They said though only 6,500 out of 500,000 Christians in Lahore have permits, the community still gets the bad name. “We appeal to put a complete ban on liquor sales across the country.” The media said the Punjab government has collected 1.02 billion rupees (US$12 million) from excise duty on liquor import and license-free production of local liquor during the fiscal year 2009-10 and 1.04 billion rupees last year. There are 24,000 liquor permit holders in Pakistan. PA12534.1633

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