Why were those steel gates and armed security personnel necessary? Are militant atheists patrolling Peshawar? Marauding bands of "freethinkers"? Or maybe the local Christians worried about being caught by mistake in "Islamophobic" attacks on the area Muslims?
Or could it be that Islamic jihadists were menacing the Christians? Naaah. That couldn't be it. After all, as everyone but greasy Islamophobes know, "jihad" is just getting in your exercise and taking the kids to school.
"Christmas celebrations: Merrymaking, hymns and carols colour the day," from the Express Tribune, December 26 (thanks to Lookmann):
Like elsewhere in the country, Christmas was celebrated with religious fervour across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) on Tuesday.
Hundreds of resident Christians gathered at Swat Church to offer prayers for peace and prosperity of the country. Enthusiastic girls and boys sang carols in a chorus. The grand function was organised after almost five years.
“It’s a special occasion as people are rejoicing in the company of their family and friends after so long,” said Hina Patrus, a social activist. Maryam, a Christian woman who works in the provincial health department, said she was happy to see people celebrating with their loved ones.
Meanwhile, scores of people also came in from other parts of the province to participate in the function. “Having to celebrate by the scenic valley doubles the joy of Christmas,” said Usha Roy, who had come from Mardan with her family.
Father Samuel Gil, the church in-charge, conducted all proceedings at the event. While talking to The Express Tribune, he said, “the Muslim community in Swat is very warm and welcoming and we all live in harmony. On this occasion, we send out a message of peace and pray for eternal peace in this serene valley.”
The function was organised by the district administration in collaboration with Pakistan Army.
Prayers and presents in Peshawar
Owing to the volatile security situation in the city, most of the celebration was limited to the churches throughout Peshawar. “This year we did not cut the Christmas cake to honour the slain Senior Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour, who rendered great services for our community,” said St. Micheal’s Catholic Church General Secretary Nadeem James.
He added that that although the two main churches are situation in the red zone, the Christians were allowed to move freely to their place of worship....
Strict security measures were taken by installing steel gates manned by armed security personnel. During his sermon, the bishop of the churches stressed on maintaining interfaith harmony....