The Central African Republic boxers
and Cameroon pugilists pray along with their coaches (centre)
during conversion ceremony from Christianity to Islam on
diversity and tolerance in Islam:
Diversity and tolerance are considered very basis of modernity as
one of the modernity’s fundamental principles is individual and
Highly-impressed by the Muslim culture and the Pakistani
hospitality, six visiting Central African Republic (CAR), and three
Cameroon boxers and their coach converted from Christianity to Islam
at a simple ceremony in a Karachi hotel on Tuesday.
According to a news story posted with
byline Shazad Ali on web news portal www.dawn.com, the six pugilists
from CAR – Gbodo Ygor, Selebangue Bienvenu, Vomitiande Huges, Grassa
Thibault, Niambongui Davy and Ngocko Martial – had announced on
Monday there wish to be converted to Islam.
However, three Cameroon boxers,
Ketchemi Joseph Justin, Mendoua Blase, Mulema Joseph and their coach
Tchuem Justin also embraced Islam along with the six from CAR on
Tuesady. The conversion ceremony was also attended by CAR coach
Mohamed Kalambaye who is a born Muslim.
The nine African boxers and coach
Justin, who were attired in crisp white kurta shalwar (shirt and
baggy trousers), were garlanded and offered sweets by the organisers
of the boxing tournament after they converted to Islam.
The nine boxers and the Cameroon coach
are in Karachi to participate in the ongoing Benazir international
Kalambaye said the three Cameroon
boxers and their coach joined them when the CAR pugilists were about
to convert to Islam, the website said.
When they (Cameroon boxers and coach)
saw how I am being greeted by everyone here, they were impressed.
And when they came to know that six of our boxers are about to
convert to Islam, they also joined them. This is how they also
converted to Islam,' Kalambaye told Dawn.com.
Kalambaye said that his boxers have
converted to Islam on their free will and without being instigated
by him or anybody else and the pugilists were impressed by the
teachings of Islam and Pakistan's hospitality.
All our boxers have converted from
Christianity to Islam by heart and there was no compulsion on them,'
Kalambaye reportedly said. "I am a Muslim since my birth and know
there will be no problems for these boxers back home", he said.
While the Central Africans were
impressed by the local hospitality, they were also inspired when
they saw their coach being greeted and welcomed warmly by the
However, according to Kalambaye the
African boxers in fact were even more impressed with Islam since it
does not discriminate on the basis of cast, creed or colour of skin.
The event was overseen by chief cleric
of the Jamia Binnoria institute Mufti Naeem at a local hotel. Naeem
termed the occasion an “historic event.”
“This is a historic event. I have
travelled round the world but have never seen so many people
embracing Islam at one time. This proves Islam is an exemplary
religion and teaches humanity,” said Naeem.“No one can impose
religion on anyone by force and I hope these boxers further study
the religion and become good humans and Muslims,” he added.
While Islamophobia has been increasing
in the West because of terrorism and religious extremism, it was a
unique incident in Pakistan where visiting sportspersons from
foreign Christian-dominated countries have converted to Islam, the
It may be mentioned here that the
ongoing boxing event is the first-ever international sporting event
to be staged in Pakistan since the attacks on the visiting Sri
Lankan cricket team in Lahore some 10 months ago.