Christianity Today has an interesting story on efforts by Pakistani Muslim youths to treat Christians with more respect. There are deep cultural and caste issues involved with what they refer to followers of Jesus. Some members of the government are also trying to promote inter-religious tolerance.
One of Pakistan’s largest Muslim youth organizations has pledged to change how members refer to Christians. In Pakistan, Christians are known by the Urdu word Isai. It’s a derivation of Isa, the Arabic word for Jesus used in the Qur’an.
First used during colonial times, Isai now carries pejorative overtones of street sweeping and other occupations done by the lowest castes. To confront these stereotypes, Pakistan’s biggest youth development NGO, Bargad, has created a program to teach an alternative word. Last month, more than 500 Muslim students from around the country took an oath to call Christians Masihi (People of the Messiah), which Pakistani Christians say has a more positive connotation.