Young Muslims have been protesting in Lahore in support of religious minorities.

Pakistani NGO Bargad organised a demonstration of over 500 young Muslims to campaign for the end of discrimination and prejudice against religious minorities.

Christians make up 1.6 per cent of Pakistan’s population and are frequently subject to violence and persecution.

However this group of Islamic youths have committed to stop calling Pakistani Christians by their usual name, “Isai,” a derogatory word in Urdu. The term originated in the colonial era and refers to people who do humiliating or impure jobs and furthers the viewpoint that Christians are second-class citizens.

Instead the group have resolved to call Christians “Masih” which means “people of the Messiah.” By labelling Christians with this new term the group are hoping to give Pakistani Christians a more positive identity. Each student in the group has promised to pass this message on to 100 more people.

“It is important to work at changing social attitudes and mentality towards minorities, so that they are properly respected and protected”, said Kamran Michael, the only Christian senator in Pakistan, who attended the convention.

The NGO has also promoted a campaign called “Green for White” which aims to raise awareness of religious persecution among young Muslims in Pakistan. The campaign refers to the Pakistani flag where the green indicates the Muslims and the white indicates religious minorities.

“Today we are laying the seed for social harmony and change,” said Saiha Shaheen, executive director of Bargad. “Students have taken an oath and pledged to be messengers of this change.”