Tuesday, March 15th
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Approximately 35-40 people gathered this evening in front of the Pakistani Consulate in downtown Vancouver for a silent, candlelight vigil to call for the repeal of the Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan and to demand equality for all minorities. Pakistanis from a variety of backgrounds, including members of the Christian, Ismaili, Ahmedi, Sunni and other communities stood side by side in solidarity along with allies from the Filipino, Iranian, Sri Lankan, Palestinian, Sikh communities as well as others. A number of young Pakistanis were also in attendance. Those in attendance lit candles, wore black arm bands and held a Pakistani flag draped in black to signify that they were in mourning for the lives, rights and freedom lost because of religious intolerance. Many creative signs were held up for passers by to look at, including ones that said “My Islam Does Not Equal Blasphemy Laws”, “Justice for Asia Bibi”, “Say No to Religious Intolerance” and “No Justice from Unjust Laws”. Messages of support also came in from Pakistan and other places from a number of groups and people including a Christian youth group based in Pakistan and members of the local Jewish community as well as interfaith and progressive Muslim groups.
The vigil was organized by a grassroots, Ad Hoc group of progressive Pakistanis who came together specifically as individuals united around the common principle of repealing the Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan. This vigil signifies the start of what is hoped will be a sustained campaign. There are other events being planned.
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