- (Photo: Reuters/Mohsin Raza)
Between 200-300 Pakistani Muslims and Christians united and gathered to make a human chain around a church in Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city on Sunday.
Held on Oct. 6, just two weeks after a church bombing killed more than 100 people in Peshawar, the human chain, organized by the citizen group "Pakistan for All," is part of the movement's goal to raise awareness about minority rights and concerns.
"Well the terrorists showed us what they do on Sundays. Here we are showing them what we do on Sundays. We unite," Pakistan for All organizer, Mohammad Jibran Nasir told The Express Tribune.
Mufti Mohammed Farooq opened the event by reading several passages from the Quran that called for tolerance of other beliefs, while Father Nasir Gulfam, who had just preached the church's Sunday service, stood by his side before they took hold of each other's hands, modeling their message.
When the service concluded and church members began to leave the church, they were greeted with music, sermons and chants affirming peace. Taimur Rahman, an activist, and band Laal, rallied the crowd, which held signs declaring "One Nation, One Blood," "No More Dialogue, Only Action," and "Many Faiths, One God."
As the group grew larger, its members took one another's hands and formed a human chain around the church.
Nasir called upon the country's leaders to join his efforts.
"I see no reason why our politicians and our leaders should not come out of their houses, leave the luxury of their secure homes and stand in solidarity with the common man," Nasir said.
Pakistan's Christians make up around roughly 4 percent of the country's 180 million people and have been the subject of intense persecution through targeted bombings, politician assassinations and blasphemy laws.