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LAHORE: The Christian community will launch a protest movement and also move the court against “derogatory remarks” passed by Arif Abbasi – a PTI MPA from Ralwalpindi – on the last day of the Punjab Assembly session.

The resolve was expressed by the community leaders and its parliamentarians at a press conference here on Saturday.

They had gathered to protest the remarks the MPA allegedly uttered for a minority MPA, Tariq Gill.

The incident happened on the last day of the current assembly’s tenure, when both sides – the opposition and the treasury – were protesting against each other, raising slogans against rival party leaders.

Though Abbasi denied having said any derogatory words, Mr Gill insisted he did and all the minority MPAs , led by provincial minister Tahir Khalil Sindhu, walked out of the house.

Addressing the press conference, Shahzad Munishi, another minority MPA, said that Mr Abbasi’s remarks symbolised religious bigotry and hatred and should not have been used under any circumstances.

He said though Mr Abbasi denied it, the assembly recording stood witness to the fact.

“The Christians have helped created Pakistan as much as any other community and have been part of its progress as much as any other community. Segregating them in the name of religion and denying them (their) due rights and respect has been tragic. This social and religious division cannot go on,” he said.

Flanked by other MPAs, Tariq Gill said no Christian in the country had ever turned terrorist as they were a peaceful community, which believed in peace.

“My community cleans the country out of love for this soil. In the West, many Muslim brothers do the job. No human can, or should, be humiliated on the basis of his profession and any such attempt be condemned in (the) strongest possible words,” he said.

The Christians are a largehearted community and followed the God, who was merciful and liked forgiveness, he added.

“The community would forgive if he (Arif Abbasi) apologises. But if he does not, we will go to any length to protest (the remarks) and continue doing it. Within next two days, we will form an action committee to finalise the protest plan, which will include moving the court. We also demand (PTI chief) Imran Khan should intervene and make Abbasi apologise before it gets out of hand and cost him politically. Mr Khan should also not hold rallies on Christmas and Easters if he cannot ensure respect for the community within his own party,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2018