Intro to ‘Equal Rights or Might is Right?’
Intro by John R. Houk
Post by Shamim Masih
Sent: 5/2/2015 12:56 PM
Pakistan’s religious minorities are a persecuted lot in the Sunni majority nation. All those minorities receive a large dose of violence and horrors from Sunni Muslims. As a Christian myself I find it particularly horrific the kind of treatment Pakistani Christians receive. Examples range from kidnapping females for forced matrimony, forced conversions, rape, physical assaults due to false accusations of committing blasphemy against Islam (which could be something as simple as burning a single page of the Quran) to settle disputes or to steal Christian property AND downright just horrible violence of graphic forms of murder. In contrast if a Muslim denigrates Christ or Christianity there has been ZERO enforcement of the rule of law against Muslim perpetrators. Muslim mobs will rampage on a Christian community burning homes, Churches, Bibles and murder sprees. Legal consequences against Muslim victimizers are rare. If the Christian community is lucky maybe one or two scapegoats get a slap on the wrist and a probable suspended sentence.
In researching the latest Shamim Masih submission for posting I found an article exposing the marginalizing of Pakistani Christians in the NY Times of all places. Here is an excerpt:
… According to one estimate, in the last two years there have been 36 targeted attacks on Pakistani Christians, 265 Christian deaths from suicide bombings and 21 “persecutions” of Christians under Pakistan’s blasphemy law. To their credit, several TV anchors ran heart-rending montages of recent incidents in which Muslim mobs or terrorists had shot, bombed or burned Pakistani Christians.
But by last Tuesday the conversation had changed, after it was established that the two men lynched by the Christian mob were blameless Muslims who happened to be near the churches when the explosions took place. (Police officers had apprehended the men on suspicion of abetting the bombers, but quickly gave them up to the rioters.) The news of their innocence gave the debates a kind of retributive equilibrium, allowing Muslim politicians to spar with Christian leaders about the other community’s excesses before rolling out their convenient conclusions: All of Pakistan was under threat from Islamist terrorists, even if religious minorities were especially vulnerable; the attack on the Christians was no different from attacks on Shiites and Ahmadis, two sects that have also been targeted by hard-line Sunni groups.
The message — that the bombing of two churches was no big deal in this war-torn country — was not lost on anyone.
But Pakistani Christians have a strong claim to being the country’s most anciently marginalized group, their predicament made all the more intractable by the silence that surrounds it.
This silence is not just about religion; it is also about caste. Most of Pakistan’s 2.8 million Christians are descended from low-caste tribes converted by Anglican and Catholic missionaries during the period of British rule. Dwelling mainly in Punjab Province, these tribes were associated with menial occupations such as sweeping and carcass collection, and had for centuries borne the corresponding stigmas of ritual pollution and “untouchability.” By converting to Christianity — so the missionaries claimed — these long-oppressed peoples were embracing a life of salvation and dignity. …
What we have, then, is the peculiar despair of a people who are unable to articulate their real grievance, a people who have no political parties or voting blocs of their own, who have only churches and pastors and the eternal motifs of suffering and deliverance to see them through this dark period.
To live in present-day Pakistan is to know all this in one’s bones. It is to recognize a welter of prejudices related to the word “Christian,” with its caste associations of waste and blood and a rarely acknowledged but ingrained sense of primordial difference. …
Last week’s riots, which were instigated by a religious attack, brought a long-oppressed community’s fury to the fore. … READ ENTIRETY! (Pakistani Christians Fight Back; By ALI SETHI; NY Times; 3/24/15)
Shamim Masih brings an onsite Pakistani Christian perspective about the injustice that finally erupted into a rare Christian reprisal against Islamic terrorism in the murder of two Muslims not involved in the homicidal-suicide bomb attack on two separate Churches in the Youhanabad area of Punjab Pakistan. Shamim focuses on how the local authorities have rounded up Christian leaders such as the Human Rights activist Joseph Francis to blame for the murders of the two Muslims AND YET there have NEVER been any arrest of any Sunni leaders in relations to a decades long occurrence of heinous Christian Persecution.
Equal Rights or Might is Right?
By Shamim Masih
Sent: 5/2/2015 12:56 PM
ISLAMABAD: Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Interior Minister said, if religious beliefs of others are not given respect then it will only promote terrorism. People of Paris should have protested against the cartoons the same way they protested against the attack on Charlie Hebdo, he added. Showing disrespect, being insensitive and ridiculing any religion or faith certainly cannot be termed as freedom of speech which may invite different reactions leading to what happened in France. However, Pakistani Interior Minister cannot preach to others as not only its [Pakistan Muslim] own education curriculum contains a hatred element for other religions which needs to be addressed. First as the same [Charlie Hebdo violence] has resulted in violence against minority communities and treating them as second CLAAS citizens as well. Mr. Nisar should first establish [his religious respect opinion as a] norm in Pakistan and then preach for others. For peaceful coexistence and harmony in this country, all should respect the other religions and avoid doing anything that hurts or insults other people. Disrespecting others’ religion is not ‘freedom of speech’. We know how other religions are being disrespected through school education, law and in society in Pakistan, is not this hypocrisy?
According to the media reports, most recently, the Punjab Govt. planned to implicate Joseph Francis, a [human] rights activist in the Youhanabad case. Earlier many Christians from Youhanabad were booked for the lynching of two Muslims after a deadly suicide bomb attack on two Churches which killed more than 20 Christians and many were injured. According to CLAAS, many are still missing and police did not produce them in the courts. CLAAS had filed a writ petition no. 8344/15 in the Lahore High Court (LHC) in which police did not produce the detainee Parviaz [or Pervaiz] John, Yousaf Kamran and his son Shaleem Yousaf. The learned judge LHC disposed of the writ petition with the direction to file a petition under section 22 A & 22 B for the registration of FIR before the Sessions Judge, Lahore with the power of Justice and Peace against the concerned SHO, DSP and SSP investigation. After the judgment from the learned court, according to the media reports, Punjab Government announced [it would] arrest Mr. Francis for blaming Sharif family [as] responsible for the Youhanabad incident and ordered to take action against Christians’ NGOs in Youhanabad and around the vicinity. Punjab govt. also blamed that Mr. Francis instigate the mass to violate which resulted road blockage and ransacking of Metro bus railings.
According to Joseph Francis, he was admitted in the hospital during this period and secondly, Pakistani are witnessed to many such types of protests which not only resulted ransacking but in August 2014, we have seen that Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf – PTI and PAT – remained sitting on the red zone area but also attacked the Parliament house and PTV buildings. Mr. Nisar and CM Punjab, can you tell me, have you ever announced to arrest Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri? I am not supporting people to violate the law but [do] want the equality and the rule of law to be same. After the assassination of the late Benazir Bhutto, protesters not only destroyed public properties but also looted ATM machines in many cities of the country. How many of them were detained and punished?
In Gojra, Shanti Nager, Mardan, Joseph Colony many churches were burnt and how many of them were punished so far? Mr. Nisar, learn to give respect to [minority] religions and punish those who burnt the Christian couple alive in Kot Radha Kishan, and 8 family members including children in Gojra. Aslam Parvaiz Sohtra and Sohail Johnson are being targeted for being outspoken for the rights of community they belong to. The daughter of Aslam Parvez Sohtra said her father was patient and authorities didn’t allow the family to see him. It is just simply planted and Punjab govt. is doing it to curb the voice of Christians. This is very unfortunate that some Christian politicians are behind it, certainly they will meet their ends.
The latest US Commission on International Religious Freedom report also noted that “Pakistan represents one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom”. The report on Pakistan said that the country continued to experience chronic sectarian violence targeting Shias, Christians, Ahmadis, and Hindus. Despite positive rulings by the Supreme Court, the government failed to provide adequate protection to targeted groups or to prosecute perpetrators and those calling for violence. The foundation of Pakistan was laid on the principles of peace, tolerance and religious freedom. But this is unfortunate that after 68 years of independence, women lack and minorities lack equality, religious dissenters are persecuted our political freedoms are curtailed. How can we think of becoming a great nation without giving freedom? Human rights defenders and journalists are staunched. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) report for 2014 [See Also HERE] expectedly paints a grim picture of the state of human rights in Pakistan. Some of the highlights the report quotes are shocking. The number of people killed in terrorist attacks in 2014 was 1723 while 3143 were injured. Many of these were targeted 210 people lost their lives in sectarian attacks, 12 doctors, 13 lawyers and 45 members of polio vaccination teams fall victim to the killers’ bullets. The report speaks not just of the conditions of insecurity of human life we live under, it also notes that people’s freedoms, thought, association, religious beliefs or conscience have been under attack.
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Edited by John R. Houk
All links within Shamim’s report are by the Editor for source context and all text enclosed by brackets are by the Editor.
© Shamim Masih