I have recently returned from Pakistan, where I was documenting the work of the British Council’s Active Citizens programme, together with social leaders from six different countries.
We visited the Christian village of Shanti Nagar to see inter-faith initiatives being run by local pastor Abdul Masih and Muslim leader Zahid Bashir.
On February 6, 1997, Shanti Nagar was destroyed by a Muslim mob after a resident allegedly desecrated the Quran.
Churches and schools were attacked, around half of the village’s houses and shops burned down and looted, fields destroyed and livestock looted.
Relationships between Shanti Nagar’s Christians and their Muslim neighbours are now characterised by mistrust and paranoia.
And with the introduction of notorious blasphemy laws creating an increasingly intolerant Pakistan, Christian communities like Shanti Nagar fear for their future.
But the Active Citizens work is providing some small rays of hope; residents told us that relationships are gradually improving.