Sunday March 9, 2014
Pakistani Woman in the Front Line to Defend Rights of Minorities, Romana BashirShamim Masih Salem-News.com
Romana, first lady appointed as consultant for Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in Pakistan
(ISLAMABAD, Pakistan) - Shanti Nagar is a Christian village in the province of Punjab, Pakistan. Fifty to sixty thousand zealots stormed this abode on the 6th of February, 1997.
The storm started from Khanewal, which is a stronghold of the militants.
Thirteen churches were ransacked and hundreds of homes were destroyed by the arsonists.
75 to 80 percent of the houses in Shanti Nagar were destroyed and 2500 people were affected. Since those riots in Shanti Nagar, many Christians have taken the leadership in defending the rights of religious minorities and the promotion of inter-religious harmony. One is Romana Bashir, the other is Arif Gill, but both share the same mission. Romana Bashir started as a social activist, in early 1998. She began working at grassroots level, and had developed the idea of nationalism; working with community members she promoted interfaith harmony.
She joined Christian Study Centre, as a trainee, where she worked to promote freedom of expression, dignity, justice, fairness, and equality. Working hard since then, in 2009, she was appointed as head of the “Christian Study Centre” program; a well-known Ecumenical Study Centre in Rawalpindi, which had prematurely lost the previous director, Francis Mehboob Sada.
She is conducting various activities and programs; meeting with Muslims, tribal and civil society leaders, to develop- a culture of dialogue and harmony for the common good.
She is working in the field of education, particularly the education of women, in the main way to change the mentality and culture of the country. It is important to train people with this new approach, based on equality and rights, which could influence the opinion leaders on a national and international level. That is what Romana shared in an interview with this reporter.
She is the first Pakistani Christian lay woman, who is recently appointed as consultant of the commission for Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID). The PCID is the central office of the Catholic Church for promoting inter-religious dialogue in accordance with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council in particular the declaration Nostra Aetate.
Talking about this status she said that Pakistani women have grown-up, especially women of religious minorities, this is great consolation for us. At a political and social level, women are increasingly present in the nation, Romana says, citing Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Asma Jhangir, ex-president Supreme Court Bar, Islamabad. This presence is a positive sign. Women in Pakistan- she concludes- are convinced that the nation needs to change and extremism should be fought. It is a very important message that gives hope to the nation.
About Shamim Masih
"I am Christian rights activist and freelancer Pakistani journalist specializing in writing about Christians rights for the different papers in the world. My aim is to create a peaceful environment in the society and to help eliminate Christian persecution through my writing as I bring the plight of these brave people under the spotlight of the whole world."
Shamim Masih was born in Sheikhopura's village and raised in Gujranwala, a city in Pakistan's Punjab province. He earned his Bachelors Degree from the University of the Punjab, Lahore majoring in English, Economics and Statistics; he also received a Masters Degree in
As a freelance writer and author, Shamim has written for different papers in the world; his expertise is in writing articles highlighting different social issues. He has served as freelance chief reporter and column writer in “Minority Times” in Islamabad, and a number of Shamim's articles have been published in local papers as well.
You can write to Shamim at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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