Think about them this Christmas

crabacado Fri, 12/25/2015 - 04:19
Islamabad’s Christian Slum Dwellers Pray for Christmas Miracle

As the winter sun sets on Pakistan’s leafy capital Islamabad, residents of the city’s largest Christian slum use bicycles, donkey carts and their backs to haul jerry cans filled with water to their homes.

Situated on the capital’s periphery, the neighbourhood that is home to around 10,000 people is now at the heart of a debate over the rights of Christians in this predominantly Muslim country of 200 million, with city authorities claiming such settlements threaten “the beauty of Islam”.

Local authorities, determined to put an end to what they call “illegal” settlements, have recently sealed the area’s three tube wells in what residents say is an effort to drive them out — despite a Supreme Court injunction temporarily barring their eviction.

With the matter now resting before Pakistan’s top judges, the slum-dwellers’ sense of insecurity remains and many say all they want for Christmas is for their neighbourhood to become legalised — and the taps turned back on.

“We are worried, we are under a lot of stress but what we can do? We are helpless,” sighed 33-year-old housewife Nargis Masih, who has been living in the neighbourhood since it was built two years ago.

Like many others, she said her main concern is a lack of water.

Masih said she would like her family to be able to celebrate Christmas Day without being forced to gather more water from the nearest tap, three kilometres (two miles) away at a bus station.

– Vulnerable minority –

Christians make up around 1.6 percent of Pakistan’s overwhelmingly Muslim population, with large settlements across major cities and around 60,000 in Islamabad.

They often f


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