Peter Jacob of Pakistan awarded International Religious Freedom Award

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WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently awarded the International Religious Freedom Award to distinguished individuals, including Peter Jacob of Pakistan, for their unwavering commitment to promoting and defending religious freedom globally.

Peter Jacob, a relentless advocate for religious freedom and human rights, has dedicated over 35 years to championing the rights of Pakistan’s marginalised religious minority communities. His extensive efforts include lecturing, writing, and advocating for equal treatment and freedom of religion.

Jacob publicly calls for the repeal or reform of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and addressing the widespread misuse of these laws that have led to the imprisonment of thousands. Under his leadership, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has compiled a comprehensive database documenting over 2,000 blasphemy cases since 1987, shedding light on vigilante violence and targeted killings of blasphemy suspects and religious minorities.

Farid Ahmed of Bangladesh, who tragically lost his wife in the 2019 Christchurch Mosque attacks, has become a symbol of forgiveness and peace.

Through his global travels and the publication of “Husna’s Story: My Wife, the Christchurch Massacre, and My Journey to Forgiveness,” Ahmed shares the selflessness and bravery of his late wife.

Husna, an active community member, sacrificed her life to ensure the safety of others during the attacks. Farid Ahmed’s advocacy for forgiveness resonates particularly with survivors of terrorist attacks, making him a crucial voice for the Muslim community worldwide.

The Christchurch mosque shootings were two consecutive mass shootings on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, 2019. They were committed by Brenton Tarrant who entered both mosques during Friday prayer, firstly at the Al Noor Mosque and later at the Linwood Islamic Centre and killed 51 people and injured 40. There were nine Pakistanis, seven Indians and five Bangladeshis among those killed by the gunman.

These awards, presented in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the International Religious Freedom Act, highlight the global impact of individuals like Farid Ahmed and Peter Jacob, who tirelessly work towards fostering mutual respect, human rights, and religious freedom.

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