Peshawar: Church and mosque nestled where peace remains volatile

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Peshawar’s historic Saint Michael’s Cathedral Church and Madressah Jamia Imdadul Uloom stand side by side in a volatile city. This is not all, Church and Madressah administrations claim they enjoy friendly relations with each other. Gifts are exchanged between both neighbors on the occasions of religious festivals.

Saint Michael's Cathedral in Peshawar

Mufti Asad from the madressah says that last Eid ul Azha, church representatives called on them and brought gifts as a gesture of goodwill and solidarity. “We also offered them meat and ate barbeque together,” he revealed. Jamia Imdad ul Uloom’s members say they enjoy the friendly and liberal outlook.

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Across the boundary wall, Father Younas Riaz also inculcates the message of peace and tolerance among his congregants. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” Father Younas boastfully quotes the Bible. In a city which has witnessed deadliest ever attack on Pakistani Christians; this is a spectacle to be marveled upon.

Father Younas Riaz blames the “so-called education experts” for fanning and instigating intolerance in society. “They are working to sabotage the unity of this diverse society,” he said, as he criticized the textbooks which often perpetuate hate.

Peshawar is considered an unsafe place for Christians, particularly followed by the All Saints Church attack in September 2013. The attack left more than 200 congregants wounded while more than 150 lost their lives. Blood and gore had badly tarnished the sense of security of local Christians. However, after surviving the situation of marred peace and security; the obvious solidarity shared by the Cathedral and Madressah stands tall among the ambiguity created after the attack.

In this regard, a researched Attaullah Khan, stated: “In this country there is always a threat to minorities… they are treated as second-grade citizens since birth…” He says that media and the textbooks are playing vital part in propagating the idea that only Muslim Pakistanis are patriots and true lovers of the country, while the “others” are often depicted as suspicious citizens.

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