A leading Yorkshire restaurant chain is helping to fund a Diocesan clean water project that aims to build bridges between Muslims and Christians in Pakistan.
The Aagrah group – which has 22 restaurants across Yorkshire – has funded one water filter plant for a church in the Bihar colony as part of the New Horizons project chaired by the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson and founded by Yaqub Masih, a Pakistani Christian from Huddersfield.
Mr Haji Sabir, who chairs the Aagrah Group, told the 130-strong gathering of business people from across Bradford, Huddersfield and Wakefield at the end of January: “We want to stand with New Horizons for all the good work they are doing in Pakistan.”
Yaqub, a Lay Canon at Wakefield Cathedral, was awarded the MBE for his services to community in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List last year, and said: “Weare gathered here to raise funds for three water filter plants which we are installing in Lahore Pakistan. It shows that we are filling two purposes: one for raising funds and the other for community cohesion because all the communities are here to support this event.
“It doesn't matter who we are, or what our faith is, when it comes to humanity, we should be all standing together,” he added.
Yaqub flew to Pakistan this week for two weeks to oversee the opening of the three new water filter plants in Lahore which will provide clean water for 9,000 people every day.
The project was launched after nine Christains were burned out of their homes in Gojra - and followed a Foreign Office funded peace mission that brought three imams, three priests, three police officers and three lawyers from Gojra on a fact-finding tour in the Diocese of Wakefield to learn from their English counterparts about justice, policing and interfaith relations.
It was backed by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, and culminated in a pledge between these two far flung corners of the world to work together to provide clean water for Gojra as a common project that could unite the faiths and improve relations between Muslims and Christians.
Bishop Tony said:
Everyday 9,000 of the local people who are unable to buy bottled water will be saved from drinking unclean water and becoming ill.
“The water filtration plants will benefit Christians and Muslims and they will know that it is their brothers and sisters in Britain both Christian and Muslim – who have raised the funds to give them clean drinking water.
“This is a good news story and one we need to keep telling in all the places where there is tension between different groups, different faiths and different cultures,” he said.