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.”
‘SPIKES’: Rudy Giuliani at a hearing asked about voting data in Pennsylvania, with a witness saying that 570,000 votes they selected were for Biden and 3,200 for Trump US president-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday said that Americans “won’t stand” for attempts to derail the US election outcome, as US President Donald Trump called for results to be overturned. Biden said in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, that Americans “have full and fair and free elections, and then we honor the results.” “The people of this nation and the laws of the land won’t stand for anything else,” he said. However, Trump is challenging the results, with lawsuits under way in several states. “We have to turn the election over,” he told a hearing in Pennsylvania. “This election was rigged.” “All we need is
‘POLICE EVERYWHERE’: A law that would criminalize the publication of images of police officers was passed by the National Assembly and awaits Senate approval Violent clashes erupted in Paris on Saturday as tens of thousands took to the streets to protest against new security legislation, with tensions intensified by the police beating and racial abuse of a black man that shocked France. Several fires were started in Paris, sending acrid smoke into the air, as protesters vented their anger against the security law, which would restrict the publication of police officers’ faces. About 46,000 people marched in Paris and 133,000 in total nationwide, the French Ministry of the Interior said. Protest organizers said about 500,000 joined nationwide, including 200,000 in the capital. French President Emmanuel Macron late
A CAUTIONARY TALE: Bookseller Lam Wing-kee speaks of the danger that his adopted home Taiwan now faces and the ordeal of his detention in China Lam Wing-kee (林榮基) leaned forward in his chair, answering quickly and sharply to issue a warning to the people of his new home, Taiwan. “Be ready now,” Lam said. “We should be more alert as citizens, we should get ready,” the 64-year-old Hong Konger said. “If they can take Hong Kong back, the next place, I feel, is Taiwan.” Late in Taipei at Causeway Bay Books Mark II, on the 10th floor of a nondescript building, Lam, a wiry, gray-haired bookseller, was sitting at his desk with a bemused gaze behind thin oval glasses. The desk was neat, but crowded with books and a
Not enough beds and not enough doctors: a skyrocketing COVID-19 caseload is pushing hospitals in the Balkans to the cusp of collapse, in chaotic scenes reminding some medics of the region’s 1990s wars. After nearly a year of keeping outbreaks more or less under control, the nightmare scenario that the Balkans feared from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is now starting to unfold. In hard-hit Bosnia-Herzegovina, one doctor described the distress of having to juggle the care of multiple patients whose lives were hanging by a thread. “The situation reminds me of the war, and I’m afraid it could get even worse