In the narrow alleys of a poor neighborhood of Karachi, known for drugs, gang wars and low literacy rates, children are learning about peace, love and interfaith tolerance from string puppets.
As the curtains open on stage, a narrator tells the story of Sindbad the Sailor, a hero of Middle Eastern origin, and his journeys in which he meets people of different faiths, languages and religions — who often do not have much tolerance for one another.
“A man is dying and you guys are talking about castes,” the protagonist puppet rebuked a fellow puppet who did not want to save a drowning marionette because it belonged to a lower caste.
“You should be ashamed calling yourself human beings,” Sindbad says. “Humans save humanity, not caste.”
Writer Nouman Mehmood said that the story came to mind when his group was conducting an education awareness campaign in some of the city’s poor neighborhoods.
They noticed religious and ethnic antagonism in the neighborhoods and decided to create a puppet show to spread a message of peace, tolerance and harmony.
Pakistan, an overwhelmingly Muslim country of more than 200 million people, has seen repeated attacks on churches, Hindu temples and Sufi shrines in the past few years by hardline religious groups and extremists.
Conservative religious schools are regularly blamed for radicalization, but they are often the only education available to millions of poor children, making alternative messages especially important.
“The basic thing is acceptance. You should have enough room to accept others regardless of whether he is a Christian, without considering whether he is a Hindu, without considering whether he is a Sikh,” Mehmood said.
Organized by the Thespianz Theatre, the show plans to travel to other poor Karachi neighborhoods after its run in the tough Karachi neighborhood of Lyari, and then to other provinces.
“There is the message that we should not interfere with others’ religions. We should help each other,” eighth-grader Adul Rahim Arshad said after the show. “If one deceives us, we should not deceive him back. Instead, we should help him.”
A rogue overgrown sheep found roaming through regional Australia has been shorn of his 35kg fleece — a weight even greater than that of the famous New Zealand sheep Shrek, who was captured in 2005 after six years on the loose. The merino ram, dubbed Baarack by rescuers, was discovered wandering alone with an extraordinarily overgrown wool coat, and was promptly shorn to save his life. Kyle Behrend, from the Edgar’s Mission farm sanctuary, said that it appeared Baarack was “once an owned sheep” who had escaped. Merino sheep do not shed their fleece and need to be shorn at least annually, as
‘GRAVE CONCERN’: A critic of the government died immediately following his complaints of torture at the hands of security forces, a human rights group said Students on Friday clashed with police in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, as anger mounted at the death of a writer and government critic in a high-security jail. At least 18 police and an unknown number of protesters were injured in the clashes, authorities and witnesses said, amid international demands for an independent investigation into the death of Mushtaq Ahmed. An Agence France-Presse correspondent witnessed police using batons and firing tear gas at students who staged a torchlight march calling for “justice” near the University of Dhaka. At least six students who allegedly attacked security forces with torches were detained, police said. More protests were planned
China, under growing global pressure over its treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang, is mounting an unprecedented and aggressive campaign to push back, including explicit attacks on women who have made claims of abuse. As allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang mount, with a growing number of Western lawmakers accusing China of genocide, Beijing is focusing on discrediting the female Uighur witnesses behind reports of abuse. Chinese officials have named women, disclosed medical data and information on their fertility, and accused some of having affairs and one of having a sexually transmitted disease. Officials said that the information was evidence of bad character,
The plane laden with vaccines had just rolled to a stop at Santiago’s airport in late January and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera was beaming. “Today is a day of joy, emotion and hope,” he said. The source of that hope: China — a country that Chile and dozens of other nations are depending on to help rescue them from the COVID-19 pandemic. China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has been a surprising success: It has pledged about 500 million doses of its vaccine to more than 45 countries, according to a country-by-country tally by The Associated Press (AP). With just four of China’s many