KP Govt. Closed Six Churches Amid the U.S. placing Pakistan on Special Watch List


Shamim Masih writes about Islamic Supremacism once again persecuting Christians in Pakistan by targeting unregistered Churches with closure under the poor excuse of security.

 

JRH 1/20/18

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KP Govt. Closed Six Churches Amid the U.S. placing Pakistan on Special Watch List

 

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan (formerly NWFP)

 

By SHAMIM MASIH

Sent 1/19/2018 9:03 PM

 

ISLAMABAD: The Khyber Pakhtunkhawa [alternate spelling: Pakhtunkhwa] (KPK) province in Pakistan has sealed at least six Churches in district Abbottabad in the name of security after the United States placed Pakistan name in the Special Watch List. The officials claimed that only non-registered churches are closed. On the other hand, the KP govt. has announced monthly honorarium for 20, 000 Muslim clerics in the province.

 

According to the details the district administration at Abbottabad has officially ordered to close as many as six churches in the name of security and said the churches being established in the rental houses and non-registered are closed due to security risk. The District Police Officer (DPO) Syed Ashfaq said in his official statement that those churches have been sealed which had not been registered with the Auqaf Department.

 

According to 27th Convention of the United Nations, Pakistan is liable to take steps for the safety, protection of minorities and women rights and religious freedom in the country. And on January 04, 2018, the US placed Pakistan name in the list of those countries which are alleged violating minorities rights and religious freedom. Being on the Watch List means Pakistan is a step away from included in the “Countries of Particular Concern” list. The list includes “governments that have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom.”

 

In the meantime, on January 8, 2018, KP govt. proved it that religious minorities are not free to perform their religious services at their homes and even cannot worship in the rental houses they live in. To a rough estimate more than 10000 Christians live in and around Hazara Division and 5000 in Abbottabad district. And many of them are bared to perform their ceremonial and routine religious services.

 

Meanwhile, the Christian community across the country have termed the move as unjustified. Father Arshad Nayer, the local priest from Roman Catholic denomination said, “it would give a bad message if the government continued to seal worship places of religious minorities over minor issues.” Instead of providing security to the said churches the administration is on to close them, and it is violation of religious freedom. The poor Christians do not have enough resources to construct independent new church buildings, he added.

 

Pastor Christopher Shakar, one victim [of a closed Church – perhaps], said that his father Akram Shakar has started the Emmanuel Pentecostal Church (EPC) in 1985, and now he has taken this responsibility for seven years. On the celebration of the Christmas, the district administration has interrupted during the sermon and asked to close the service. This is violation of religious freedom given in the constitution of country. Another church, Assemblies of God has been established some 50 years back and now Pastor in charge Saleem Ghori is running it in his own house is also closed under the said so called security risk.

 

Chairman Community Development Foundation (CDF) Basharat Khokher strongly condemned the move by the KP govt. and termed it prejudicial behavior toward religious minorities in Pakistan. Talking on religious freedom, he said that the step taken by KP govt. is discriminatory and biased; the KP government is paying billions of rupees to Muslim clerics in the province and shutting down Christian worship places. From this move, it clearly shows that there is no religious freedom in the country and government imposed restriction and tries to snub the rights of minorities.

 

When asked Shireen Mazari, a senior Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) leader and member parliament, she said PTI is very clear in giving rights to minorities and not in the favor of closing any worship places. PTI central secretariat has sought written reply from CM KP Parvez Khattak on the matter of closure of 6 churches in Abbottabad district. The CM has been asked to explain the causes and motives leading to closure of churches. In a statement chairman PTI Imran Khan said that all the minorities enjoy full freedom of religion under the constitution of Pakistan. He said the PTI believes in full freedom of minorities, adding that such steps by the provincial government create a negative impression in the international community.

 

SUPPORT Shamim’s Christian advocacy in Pakistan. First contact Shamim in case he has found an easy way to donate. I like to use Western Union sending money with this LINK to the destination of Islamabad (Contact Shamim in case he has changed cities). Shamim’s email is shamimpakistan@gmail.com, Western Union may ask for Shamim’s phone – +92-300-642-4560

 

Be Blessed,

 

Shamim Mahmood

Diplomatic Correspondents

Online Int’l News Networks

Daily Jinnah & Daily Morning Mail

Journalist, Blogger and

Social Reformer

_________________

Edited by John R. Houk

Any text enclosed by brackets as well as source links are by the Editor. Also, the Editor used Spellcheck.

 

A few words from Shamim perhaps from 2016:

 

 

Shamim Masih 

 

Greetings to you! Let me introduce myself first, though many of you are witness to my professional work. I am the only Christian journalist in this arena with diverse work experience with different media outlets like Independent News Pakistan (INP), as columnist with “Daily Times” for two years, two years with one of the leading Urdu daily, “Khabrain” & Channel 5, Daily Mail and now with Pakistan Today. I have been working as lead Reporter for “British Pakistani Christian Association” since 2010. As stringer I have worked with BBC world service. Being a Christian journalist, I have been writing on minority rights and working as a social reformer/peace maker as well.

 

Pakistani Christians: Voiceless and Leaderless


Several days ago, Shamim shared about the U.S./Pakistan foreign affairs dispute over the State Department placing Pakistan on a special watch list relating to violations of religious freedom.

 

Shamim is a brave Pakistani Christian willing to criticize Pakistan’s lack of human rights against religious minorities. In Pakistan if you are not a Sunni Muslim, you can expect horrid discrimination up to and including violence, rape or even murder. Pakistani victims of this designation are often ignored in the legal system and oft times face the law for reporting victimizing crimes.

 

JRH 1/11/18

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Pakistani Christians: Voiceless and Leaderless

 

By SHAMIM MASIH

Sent 1/8/2018 10:03 PM

 

ISLAMABAD: There is an uproar in Pakistan after placing its name on a Special Watch List by the United States on the issue of religious freedom and Pakistan rejected U.S. decision and considered it as “Politically motivated”. Pakistan said on Friday that it “rejects the U.S. designation” and that the report is “not based on objective criteria”. “This placement on special watch list is a new categorization and we would be seeking clarification from the U.S. regarding its rationale and implications,” a statement from Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

 

“It is surprising that countries that have a well-known record of systematic persecution of religious minorities have not included in the list,” the statement added. “This reflects the double standards and political motives behind the listing and hence lacks credibility.”

 

Earlier in a statement, issued on Thursday, January 4, 2018, the U.S. state department added Pakistan to a Special Watch List, while re-designating a group of other countries as being of “particular concern” on the issue of religious freedom. The State Department spokesman, Heather Nauert said in a statement that the number of governments infringe upon individuals’ ability to adopt, change, or renounce their religion or belief.” “In for too many places around the globe, people continue to be persecuted, unjustly prosecuted, or imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief”.

 

Under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the U.S. annually designates countries of particular concern, and Thursday’s statement re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. “The Secretary also placed Pakistan on a Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom,” Nauert said.

 

Let me tell you; though it makes no difference if the U.S. places Pakistan on a Special Watch list, but there are some facts which cannot be denied. Pakistan was declared an Islamic Republic where both the President and Prime Minister were required to be Muslims and Islam was the state religion. It promotes a certain Islamic mindset and the constitution called for the setting up of a Council of Islamic Ideology, comprising religious scholars and experts, to enforce the repugnancy clause. And number of discriminatory laws e.g. blasphemy laws are added in the constitutions against religious minorities and thus minorities are being targeted and facing challenges in Pakistan.

 

Now it is not only the matter of religious freedom for minorities but women are also suffering the same. Pakistan is the fourth worst country for women according to recently released ranking of the Women, Peace and Security Index. Isn’t it a fact that minorities in Pakistan are being unjustly prosecuted, or imprisoned for exercising their rights to freedom of religion or belief? According to the World Report 2017, at least 19 people remained on death row after being convicted under Pakistan’s blasphemy law and hundreds awaited trial. Most of those facing blasphemy are members of religious minorities, often victimized by these charges due to personal disputes. The government continued to actively encourage legal and procedural discrimination against members of the Christians and Ahmadi religious community by failing to repeal discriminatory laws. Most recently, a week before Christmas celebrations two suicide bombers attacked a Church packed with worshipers on Sunday in Quetta, killing at least nine people and injuring at least 35 others, several critically.

 

Suspects accused have no hope

 

Earlier former parliamentarian raised question on unequal, unjust role of law by the judiciary and authorities. Pakistan Today reported, “Former MP, Sindh Assembly Saleem Khokhar has demanded the release of 40 suspects in the Youhanabad lynching incident in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Khokher said that just like the Faizabad agreement, where all the cases were dropped against the protesters, the Youhanabad suspects should be released as soon as possible.” “Just because we don’t have weapons and that we are a minority, the state won’t do an agreement with us,” he questioned? He demanded that the same law should be applied to the Tehrik-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah Chief Khadim Rizvi and his supporters. They were involved in killing a police officer and beating several others, while also harming the state property, why were they all released? Since I am writing this there is no response from the authorities yet and two of the suspects [Indaryas Ghulam & Usman Masih] of Youhanabad have died during their custody and third one on the row.

 

The Christian community is one of the most persecuted minorities in Pakistan with a sudden surge in riots, mob lynching, target killings and bomb blasts targeting their congregations and Churches in the recent decade. And there is no rule of law and freedom and manifestation of religion and expression. This is very unfortunate that this community either cannot produce any visionary leader to fight for their rights or there are many so called leaders and thus they remained voiceless since partition of the subcontinent. However, I feel that there is a bigger need to look inward to ensure the rights and freedom of religious minorities, especially Christians.

 

SUPPORT Shamim’s Christian advocacy in Pakistan. First contact Shamim in case he has found an easy way to donate. I like to use Western Union sending money with this LINK to the destination of Islamabad (Contact Shamim in case he has changed cities). Shamim’s email is shamimpakistan@gmail.com, Western Union may ask for Shamim’s phone – +92-300-642-4560

 

Be Blessed,

 

Shamim Mahmood

Diplomatic Correspondents

Online Int’l News Networks

Daily Jinnah & Daily Morning Mail

Journalist, Blogger and

Social Reformer

_________________

Edited by John R. Houk

Any text enclosed by brackets as well as source links are by the Editor. Also, the Editor used Spellcheck.

 

A few words from Shamim perhaps from 2016:

Greetings to you! Let me introduce myself first, though many of you are witness to my professional work. I am the only Christian journalist in this arena with diverse work experience with different media outlets like Independent News Pakistan (INP), as columnist with “Daily Times” for two years, two years with one of the leading Urdu daily, “Khabrain” & Channel 5, Daily Mail and now with Pakistan Today. I have been working as lead Reporter for “British Pakistani Christian Association” since 2010. As stringer I have worked with BBC world service. Being a Christian journalist, I have been writing on minority rights and working as a social reformer/peace maker as well.

 

Christians Fear to Attend Sunday Service


Shamim writes about Muslims of a community in the Rawalpindi area of Pakistan harassing Pakistani-Christians primarily because the Muslims find the Christian services offensive.

 

Shamim doesn’t really share the specific details of the Muslim Islamic Supremacism against Christian religious freedom. I found an article the Christian Times Pakistan that make the issues a bit clearer:

 

Rawalpindi Neighborhood Christians & Muslims Clash Over Religious Freedom (Photo: Christian Times Pakistan)

 

 

The complainants namely Muhammad Sajid, Rashid Akhtar, Afzal Hussain and Muhammad Sadiq have maintained that some Christian residents of the locality including Patras Salamat Masih, James Allah Ditta and others are carrying out church activities which are bothering them.

 

In an application submitted at the New Town Police Station, the complainants claimed that Patras and James have illegally formed a church in house right in front of theirs. “They perform their religious ceremonies three days a week (Sunday, Tuesday and Saturday).” The complainants claim that during the church services Christian youngsters are stationed on the street; who block the passage of lay people on the street.

 

Moreover, the complainants said that whenever a Christian dies, these congregants use the street for observing funeral ceremonies. They said that religious practices of these Christians have caused much nuisance to them. Furthermore, the complainants have stated that when they tried to approach the church’ administration they hurled death threats at us.

 

Sajid, Rashid, Afzal and Sadiq also claim that Patras and James were allegedly trying to pressurize them to sell their houses and leave the street. “We also informed the Union Council Chairman, Abid Hussain Abbasi,” they maintained in the compliant. They maintained that the Union Council Chairman had also advised them to sell their properties to the Christians and leave the street.

 

On the other hand, the Christians claim that on August 8, 2017, Sajid, Rashid, Afzal and Sadiq long with others arrived at the church when a prayer service was going on. Christians allege that the said people arrived with intent to attack the congregants and therefore the police was informed about the situation. (Bold text Editor’s — Rawalpindi: Tension arises between Christians, Muslims in New Town neighborhood; By  admin; Christian Times Pakistan; 10/3/17)

 

I used bold text to point out that Muslims often lie when it comes to the religious liberty of Christians. This is particularly so when Islamic Supremacist use Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law to eject or cause harm to Christians.

 

Here is Shamim Masih’s account below.

 

JRH 10/22/17

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Christians Fear to Attend Sunday Service

 

By SHAMIM MASIH

Sent: 10/22/2017 12:16 AM

 

RAWALPINDI: Christians fear of attending ceremonial services and Sunday service due to the threats of Muslims living in the neighborhood. Muslims disrupted church a service and wanted to eliminate the church building in the twin area of Rawalpindi, a twin city of Pakistan. Police are reluctant to arrest Muslims even after the attack.

 

According to the reports, a group of 13 people in the town area of Rawalpindi district filed an application against the Pastor Patras Salamat at the office of the district administrator “City Police Officer” (CPO) to shut down the church. The CPO Israr Abbasi ordered the concerned officials to take stern action against the church administration, the report said. The document available with the Covenant TV reads that Mohammad Sajid, Rashid Akhter, Mohammad Sadiq and others have filed an application against the Pastor Patras Salamat and James Allah Dita to stop the religious ceremony done by local the Christians around their houses and also wrote a threatening statement between the lines. Number of 13 members of the locality wrote an application to the district administration with their signatures underwritten and said that due to their Sunday service and the religious ceremonial; the Muslim community living around feels irritated and itchy. Therefore, they have requested the higher ups to remove the church from their neighborhood. The city administrator (CPO) ordered the concerned officials to take action and stop these activities, the document reads.

 

Application CPO

 

In talking to the Covenant TV Pastor Patras Salamat, he said the Philadelphia Pentecostal Church is a registered body under the constitutions of the country and was established nineteen years ago at the same place when his father Pastor Salamat purchased the land and started with the small building. And with the passage of time as the church grew, he purchased the nearby land as well. The Philadelphia Pentecostal Church is registered and the sitting Priest claimed that he obtain the written approval for the said piece of land for Church building from the local administration. On every Sunday service the police chief also assigned two police security at the venue. When the congregation gathered for the service, we also arrange our church volunteers to take care of the visitors and congregation as well.

 

A few weeks back, when the service was on and as soon as worshipers began worshipping, Mohammad Sajid and a few other Muslims arrived armed with guns and machetes to disrupt the Sunday service and shouted to stop the service. The church administration went to resolve the issue.  Later the local administration arranged a reconciliation meeting between the Muslims and members of the congregation. After a few days the Muslims again filed an application to the senior officials, he added.

 

Mr. Javed Youhana, a regular church-goer said that he used to attend the Sunday services since 1999 but he feels himself insecure while going to church since the Muslim in the neighborhood have threatened the Christians. Basharat Khokher, an activist said, “I live nearby but attend the service on regular basis with my family, since the attack on [the] church has created [a] sense of insecurity in me and many others. We live under constant traumatiz[ation] since the attacks began on Pakistan on worship places by the extremists. … For the most time, when I go to church I fear anything can happen anytime and I feel whether I will go back home (alive) or not.” [Blog Editor: Emphasis mine]

 

Taliban terrorists and extremist in Pakistan have been attacking worship places of the religious minorities across the country for the last two decades, killing hundreds and with thousands injured. Many of them are still living with their constant diseases and some are paralyzed due to these attacks while worshiping their God. There have been attacks on Shiite mosques and Imambargahs; Bohra worship places; Ahmadiya community worship places; Churches; and Hindu temples. Due to the situation, the minorities in general, live in the grip of fear even during the worship.

 

www.thecovenant.tv

 

Be Blessed,

 

Shamim Mahmood

 

Journalist, Blogger and Social Reformer
http://oiwerk.blogspot.com/

+92-300-642-4560

_______________

SUPPORT Shamim’s Christian advocacy in Pakistan. First contact Shamim in case he has found an easy way to donate. I like to use Western Union sending money with this LINK to the destination of Islamabad. Contact Shamim in case he has changed cities). Shamim’s email is shamimpakistan@gmail.com, Western Union may ask for Shamim’s phone – +92-300-642-4560

 

Edited by John R. Houk

Text embraced by brackets are by the Editor.

 

Unedited version at Pakistan Christian Post

 

© Shamim Masih (Mahmood)

 

Persecuted Pakistan Christian Sakharov Prize Nominee


John R. Houk

© September 19, 2017

 

Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian that has been languishing in a Pakistani jail for a better of a decade wondering if the Pakistan government will ever proceed on the death sentence passed against her for breaking the anti-religious freedom Blasphemy Law.

 

Asia has been nominated for a prestigious award from the EU that I pray places more pressure on the Pakistan government to release her with the ability of Asia Bibi and family to receive political asylum in a more civilized nation. The award is called the Sakharov Prize.

 

About the Sakharov Prize:

 

The European Parliament also supports human rights through the annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, established in 1988.  The prize is awarded to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe, drawing attention to human rights violations as well as supporting the laureates and their cause. (The European Parliament supports human rights; European Parliament)

 

The nominees were announced on September 14, 2017. Here is the nominee list which Asia Bibi is listed first:

 

The nominees for this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought are:

Asia Bibi (Aasiya Noreen), a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death in 2010 under the country´s blasphemy law. Bibi is on a death row for almost seven years and her appeal to the supreme court has been postponed to an undetermined date. She was nominated by ECR.

Aura Lolita Chavez Ixcaquic, a human rights defender from Guatemala. She is a member from the Council of Ki’che’ Peoples (CPK), an organisation that fights to protect natural resources and human rights from the expansion of mining, logging, hydroelectric and agro-industry sectors in the territory and has been subject to threats. She was nominated by Greens/EFA.

Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, co-chairs of the pro-kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey arrested in November 2016 on terrorism charges after their parliamentary immunity was lifted. They were nominated by GUE/NGL.

Democratic Opposition in Venezuela: National Assembly (Julio Borges) and all political prisoners as listed by Foro Penal Venezolano represented by Leopoldo López, Antonio Ledezma, Daniel Ceballos, Yon Goicoechea, Lorent Saleh, Alfredo Ramos and Andrea González. The situation in Venezuela has been seriously deteriorating as regards democracy, human rights and socio-economy, in a climate of growing political and social instability. Nominated by EPP and ALDE. Political prisoners in Venezuela as well as the democratic opposition in Venezuela were also shortlisted for the Sakharov Prize in 2015.

Dawit Isaak, a Swedish-Eritrean playwright, journalist and writer, who was arrested in 2001 by the Eritrean authorities during a political crackdown. He has been imprisoned without a trial since and was last seen in 2005. Isaak was Sakharov finalist in 2009. He was nominated by S&D as well as by Wikström and 46 other MEPs.

Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, a Burundian human rights activist and founder of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH). He was detained in 2014, escaped an assassination attempt in 2015 and is now living in Belgium. He was nominated by EFDD. (Sakharov Prize 2017: discover the nominees; EU affairs; 9/14/17 18:05)

 

 

In case you have been out of the loop or have forgotten the idiotic reason for Asia’s death sentence, here is an excerpt from a past post which was dated 7/25/15:

 

The women said in their charge that Bibi asked “My Christ died for me, what did Muhammad do for you?” — a statement considered blasphemous in the South Asian country. (Bold Text Mine Christian Post)

 

 

Asia life behind bars has not been a bowl of strawberries and cream. Check out this excerpt from a New York Post article in 2013 that encouraged people to buy Asia’s memoir to help her now persecuted family and to pay Pakistan lawyers to working legal issues for an appeal:

 

To her neighbors, Aasiya Noreen “Asia” Bibi, a poor mother of five in the tiny village of Ittan Wali in central Pakistan, was guilty — guilty of being Christian in a nation that is 97% Muslim. For four years she has languished in a prison cell for this, facing death by hanging.

Her new memoir, “Blasphemy,” was dictated to her husband from jail, who relayed it to French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet. Fifty percent of the proceeds the book will go to support Bibi and her family. Tollet says the situation is dire. 

 Embarrassed by Bibi’s case but still refusing to release her because of angry protests by extremists, the Pakistan government has transferred her to a more remote prison, hoping the 42-year-old dies quietly behind bars, perhaps poisoned by another inmate. Already two government officials who have spoken out on her behalf have been murdered, including Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, who was killed by the Taliban. In this excerpt, Bibi explains the simple “transgression” that led to her plight.

 

 

 I want the whole world to know that I’m going to be hanged for helping my neighbor. I’m guilty of having shown someone sympathy. What did I do wrong? I drank water from a well belonging to Muslim women, using “their” cup, in the burning heat of the midday sun.

 I, Asia Bibi, have been sentenced to death because I was thirsty. I’m a prisoner because I used the same cup as those Muslim women, because water served by a Christian woman was regarded as unclean by my stupid fellow fruit-pickers.

 That day, June 14, 2009, is imprinted on my memory. I can still see every detail.

 That morning I got up earlier than usual, to take part in the big falsa-berry harvest. I’d been told about it by Farah, our lovely local shopkeeper. “Why don’t you go falsa picking tomorrow in that field just outside the village? You know the one; it belongs to the Nadeems, the rich family who live in Lahore. The pay is 250 rupees.”

When I got to the field, around 15 women were already at work, picking away, their backs hidden by the tall bushes. It was going to be a physically exhausting day in such heat, but I needed those 250 rupees.

A hard-faced woman dressed in clothes that had been mended many times came over to me with an old yellow bowl.

 “If you fill the bowl you get 250 rupees,” she said without really looking at me.

 I looked at the huge bowl and thought I would never finish before sunset. Looking at the other women’s bowls, I also realized mine was much bigger. They were reminding me that I’m a Christian.

 The sun was beating down, and by midday it was like working in an oven. …

 But since the river was nowhere near, I freed myself from my bushes and walked over to the nearby well. Already I could sense the coolness rising up from the depths.

 I pull up a bucketful of water and dip in the old metal cup resting on the side of the well. The cool water is all I can think of. I gulp it down and I feel better; I pull myself together.

 Then I start to hear muttering. I pay no attention and fill the cup again, this time holding it out to a woman next to me who looks like she’s in pain. She smiles and reaches out . . . At exactly the moment Musarat pokes her ferrety nose out from the bush, her eyes full of hate:

 “Don’t drink that water, it’s haram!”

 Musarat addresses all the pickers, who have suddenly stopped work at the sound of the word “haram,” the Islamic term for anything forbidden by God.

 “Listen, all of you, this Christian has dirtied the water in the well by drinking from our cup and dipping it back several times. Now the water is unclean and we can’t drink it! Because of her!”

 It’s so unfair that for once I decide to defend myself and stand up to the old witch.

“I think Jesus would see if differently from Mohammed.”

 Musarat is furious. “How dare you think for the Prophet, you filthy animal!”

… (NY Post – 8/25/13 4:00am)

(Asia Bibi Gets Execution Stay – Now Push for Political Asylum; By John R. Houk; SlantRight 2.0; 7/25/15)

 

It’s been over two years since I posted the original excerpt above. As far as I know, NOTHING HAS CHANGED! Asia Bibi (or her less well-known name – Aasiya Noreen) is still languishing in jail.

 

The closest update I have found is from an online French Catholic publication called Aleteia which also publishes in English:

 

Condemned to death in 2009 for insulting Islam, the Pakistani Catholic is still awaiting her final verdict.

 

On June 14, 2009, Asia Bibi was thrown into jail. A year later she was sentenced to death for blasphemy, and since 2013, after two transfers, she has been languishing in one of the three windowless cells on death row in the southern province of Multan in the Punjab Penitentiary. A year after the Supreme Court of Pakistan postponed her appeal amid death threats by 150 muftis (Muslim legal experts) against anyone who would assist “blasphemers,” the case has not progressed by one iota. On August 30, Asia Bibi had spent 3,000 days in prison.

 

Her family lives underground. The only thing we know comes from her lawyer, the Muslim Saif ul Malook, who has visited her in recent months. He says she is doing well and is still hoping for her release. On the other hand, the Supreme Court seems to have forgotten the case, and has still not decided whether to confirm her death sentence or to release her.

 

During those 3,000 days Asia Bibi has never stopped praying and asking for prayers. As a tribute to this Christian who has become an icon for all those who struggle in Pakistan and the world against all violence in the name of religion, this is the prayer she composed last year on the occasion of the Easter celebrations, and which accompanies her in her detention:

 

Resurrected Lord, allow your daughter Asia to rise again with you. Break my chains, make my heart free and go beyond these bars, and accompany my soul so that it is close to those who are dear to me, and that it remains always near you. Do not abandon me in the day of trouble, do not deprive me of your presence. You who have suffered torture and the cross, alleviate my suffering. Hold me near you, Lord Jesus. On the day of your resurrection, Jesus, I want to pray for my enemies, for those who hurt me. I pray for them and I beg you to forgive them for the harm they have done me. I ask you, Lord, to remove all obstacles so that I may obtain the blessing of freedom. I ask you to protect me and protect my family.

 

After eight years of suffering, anguish and disappointed hopes, let us keep up our prayers and our actions of support for her, because through her we support all the persecuted Christians in their sacrifices. (Asia Bibi has spent more than 3,000 days in prison for blasphemy; By Isabelle Cousturie; Aleteia; 9/18/17)

 

The organization Prisoner Profile has a post tracking Asia Bibi’s Pakistan legal system difficulties/persecution with the dates 6/2009 through 5/2017.

 

Dan Wooding the Chief Editor of Assist News Service (ANS) sent the email alert notifying me of Asia Bibi’s Sakharov Prize nomination. Below is my cross post of that ANS article.

 

JRH 9/19/17

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ASIA BIBI NOMINATED FOR EU’S PRESTIGIOUS SAKHAROV PRIZE

 

By Dan Wooding – Founder of ASSIST News Service 

September 17, 2017 23:58

Assist News Service

 

Free Persecuted Asia Bibi

 

Free Asia Bibi campaign

www.voiceofthepersecuted.org

 

PAKISTAN (ANS – September 17, 2017) — Pakistan’s most famous Christian prisoner, Asia Bibi, has been nominated for the European Union’s high-status award, the Sakharov Prize.

 

Ms. Bibi, a mother-of-five, who is currently behind the bars waiting for a hearing of her appeal against capital punishment, was nominated by a group of European legislators.

 

According to Madeeha Bakhsh, writing for Christians in Pakistan (https://www.christiansinpakistan.com/), “Asia has been nominated for ‘Freedom of Thought’ by the legislators who form an influential group European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR). This European Conservatives and Reformists Group is the third largest group in the European Parliament,” she wrote. “The European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR), nominated Asia Bibi late on Wednesday, September 13.”

 

Sakharov on Time Mag Cover

 

Peter van Dalen, a Dutch European parliamentarian and member of ECR’s faction, ChristenUnion-SGP, said: “Her case is a symbol for others hurt in their freedom of expression and especially freedom of religion. It is good that my colleagues in the ECR and I continue to defend the rights of [Asia] Bibi and many others.”

 

Members of the entire European Parliament will soon be casting their votes in favor of their favorite candidate.

 

“If a majority casts [their] votes in favor of Asia Bibi; she could win the €50,000 ($59,670 USD) award for the Sakharov Prize, which is considered Europe’s most prestigious human rights award,” said Madeeha Bakhsh. “This award is named after Andrei Sakharov, a scientist and dissident hailing from the Soviet era.”

 

Sakharov died on December 14, 1989, and the award ceremony will be held in Strasbourg, France, on December 10.

 

Asia Bibi, a berry picker, was accused of committing blasphemy by her co-workers back in 2009. Later on, in 2010, a court in the Punjab district of Nankana found her guilty and she was sentenced to death by hanging, a verdict later challenged and upheld by a two-member bench of Lahore High Court in 2014.

 

Her appeal case is currently pending with the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

 

“Supposedly her final appeal hearing on October 13, 2016, was meant to wind up the most high profile case of the country, however, it was delayed as one of the judges refused to be a part of the three member bench that was to hear the case,” added Bakhsh.

 

Salman Taseer meeting with Asia Bibi

 

She said that on the date of the hearing, Justice Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman, one of the three judges due to hear Asia Bibi’s appeal case, suddenly withdrew saying, “I was a part of the bench that was hearing the case of Salmaan Taseer, and this case is related to that.”

 

Asia Bibi’s husband (Ashiq Masih) and family

 

The judge was referring to the case of the then governor of Punjab, who was assassinated on January 4, 2011, at the Kohsar Market in Islamabad by his bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, who disagreed with Taseer’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law and his support for Asia Bibi. Qadri was later sentenced to death by a Pakistani Anti-Terrorist court at Islamabad for murdering Taseer, and was executed on February 29, 2016.

 

Consequently, the hearing was adjourned and Ms. Bibi is still on death row in her lonely prison cell.

 

Note: Christians in Pakistan is a non-profit organization and a leading source of news related to Pakistani Christians. They can be contacted by e-mail at: ChristiansinPak@gmail.com.

 

Photo captions: 1) Asia Bibi. 2) Andrei Sakharov on the cover of Time magazine. 3) Salmaan Taseer meeting with Asia Bibi after her arrest. Many believe that this meeting cost him his life. 4) Ashiq Masih, the husband of Asia Bibi with some of the children. 5) Dan Wooding

 

About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist, who was born in Nigeria, West Africa, of British missionary parents, Alfred and Anne Wooding, who then worked with the Sudan Interior Mission, now known as SIM. Dan now lives in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for some 54 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder/president of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and is also the author of numerous books. He has a radio show and two television programs, all based in Southern California.

______________

Persecuted Pakistan Christian Sakharov Prize Nominee

John R. Houk

© September 19, 2017

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ASIA BIBI NOMINATED FOR EU’S PRESTIGIOUS SAKHAROV PRIZE

 

** You may republish this or any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net). Please tell your friends and colleagues that they can receive a complimentary subscription to ANS by going to the above website and signing up there.

 

PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609

 

About ANS, excerpted from a Hub Pages post linked from ANS:

 

The ASSIST news site gives you access to stories that are of interest to Christians worldwide, some of them would never be told without Dan Wooding’s help.  

 

Dan interviews people whether famous or intriguing every day.  He writes their stories, shares them on international radio shows, and videos as well.

 

If you have a heart for missions and helping Christians around the world, get to know Dan Wooding and his work at ASSIST Ministries today.

 

Imran Firasat’s Journey and Mysterious Fate?


John R. Houk

© September 11, 2017

 

I came across a video with a sensationalist title sent from of all places I Support Israel: “Watch: Buddhist woman raped by sharia police in Pakistan as punishment for having a child”. Thank God the video does not actually show a woman being raped by Muslims.

 

The video is actually the Christian testimony and journey of Imran Firasat. Imran was born a Muslim in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In adulthood he met a gal from Indonesia (Jenny Setiawan) was a Buddhist in Pakistan. I had to wonder why a Buddhist gal would be in Pakistan where some of the most vicious Muslims live who believe in violently protecting the Religion of Peace from non-Muslim religions and ideologies.

 

Here’s a mystery I have grown weary of searching to solve. I have had difficulty finding anything Imran Firasat. The latest post I could find is dated 5/2/16 found at Jan Sandviks blogg, but the information is only up to date to 2014. The mystery is Imran has disappeared from normal Internet searches for a guy like me that only knows how to use Google, Bing, Yahoo and a few less known search engines.

 

The I Support Israel website sent an alert of this Imran video on 9/10/17. The Youtube video itself is dated 6/14/14. I have no idea of the reason a Pro-Israel website showing a three-year-old video to garner support for a person that seems to have disappeared from the Internet.

 

I can tell you the reason I believe you should watch this video. The summary of Imran’s story which I began above, is this: A Muslim falls in-love with a non-Muslim from another nation other than Pakistan. Sharia prevents marriage so they cohabitate. A child is born of the relationship in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Sharia police show up at the door and rape the mother of his child because she is a non-Muslim living with a Muslim. The incident challenges Imran’s belief in Islam. He eventually becomes an atheist. For safety, they move to Spain. Imran eventually converts to Christianity and becomes a Counterjihad writer. Spain exercise its idiotic Multiculturalist hate speech laws which always exonerates Islam of hate speech and convicts the critics of hate speech against Islam. Spain moves to deport Imran. Imran tries Norway. Norway doesn’t want him for the same reasons Spain wants to deport Imran back to Pakistan. A deportation back to Pakistan would be a death sentence for breaking the Islamic Republic’s Blasphemy Law. I probably left out some details but I think you get the gist of what happens to an ex-Muslim refugee in Europe and in the Muslim world.

 

The reason then for watching this video: to understand Islam and the idiocy of the West’s Multiculturalist Left to emphasize diversity over Western Culture that will lead to the West’s destruction.

 

ERGO, here’s the Youtube Channel’s version of Imran’s journey from 2014:

 

VIDEO: From Sharia suffering Muslim to Atheist to Christ

 

Posted by Light of Christ

Published on Jun 14, 2014

 

Please pray for Brother Imran: http://www.ibtimes.com/fighting-words/islam-critic-imran-firasat-i-am-going-die-1286539

 

If anyone can solve the mystery of what is going on with Imran Firasat or what has happened to him, please let me know in the comment section. I’d love to post an update.

 

My last post on Imran Firasat in 2013: “Are Western Governments Volunteering Dhimmitude?

 

JRH 9/11/17

Please Support NCCR

 

 

Minorities Rights Journalist attacked in Pakistan


Intro to ‘Minorities Rights Journalist attacked in Pakistan

Edited by John R. Houk

By Shamim Mahmood

 

Shamim Mahmood (Masih) is a frequent contributor to this blog reporting on the Islamic Supremacist persecution of Christians in Pakistan. The plight of Christians in Muslim dominated areas of the world tend to get more publicity of Egyptian Muslims persecuting Egyptian Coptic Christians and the mega-brutality of Daesh (ISIS) murdering or enslaving Christians in the Syria/Iraq part of the Muslim world. Yet, Pakistan brutalizes Christians on a near state sanctioned level with the Blasphemy Law is often used as a method of Muslim/Christian retribution more than a blasphemy (according to Sharia Not Free Speech) actually occurring.

 

Knowing that Shamim’s journalism takes place in a hostile situation, I often post his requests for support from Western sources. To those of you that use Pay Pal for such contributions, it will not work in Pakistan. You will have to use a direct money transfer from your bank to Shamim’s bank. The least expensive method I have found is using Western Union for a wire transfer of money. Western Union will exchange your nation’s currency into Pakistani Rupees for you.

 

Here is the standard info that I share with readers that links to Western Union with Shamim’s info for the wire transfer:

 

SUPPORT Shamim’s Christian advocacy in Pakistan. First contact Shamim in case he has found an easy way to donate. I like to use Western Union sending money with this LINK to the destination of Islamabad (Contact Shamim in case he has changed cities). Shamim’s email is shamimpakistan@gmail.com, Western Union may ask for Shamim’s phone – +92-300-642-4560

 

Shamim’s submission below brings to reality the danger he faces as a Human Rights Activist and Christian journalist in Pakistan. If my meager efforts failed to interest you in being a supporter of Shamim Mahmood (Masih) at least consider a one-time contribution and share Shamim’s need with your friends and family.

 

JRH 7/26/17

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Minorities Rights Journalist attacked in Pakistan

 

By Shamim Mahmood

Sent 7/26/2017 5:21 AM

 

Shamim Mahmood (Masih)

 

Dear Friends, Greetings, I hope this email will find you in your best health and spirit. I am writing this email with a heavy heart and in an alarming situation prevailing around. I hope many of you may be aware of that since 2010, I am working as a journalist and as long as I fulfillll my official responsibilities, I’ve been writing on persecution and minorities’ rights in Pakistan. Especially after Gojra incident, when eight Christian family members were burnt alive including two children and dozens of the houses were set ablaze on blasphemy allegation. Since then I devotedly writing against unlawful killings of the Christians especially in the Punjab province and persecutions.

 

Living in Pakistan as member from the minority segment, is too hard and it became more difficult when you raise voice for your rights. But living in the same society I keep writing on and facing problems on a routine basis. Now this episode of attack has shaken me and my family. Let me tell you the story.

 

On Saturday late evening, when I was travelling towards my house in my car, unknown assailants opened fire on me that hit the car. The bullets hit my car but I managed to escape. Earlier I was being beaten for writing on minorities issues after Youhanabad twin Churches bomb attack in 2015, by two unknown motorcyclist as a result my left arm was fractured and motorbike damaged.

 

It was about 2130 hours, on July 22, when I was on the way back to my home on my car Suzuki Bleno, while driving the nearby street to my house, I noticed that something hit hard on car, I was shocked and scared and managed to escape. On reaching the house, I found the dent of bullet fired on the car”. “I was as scared as it was first time that somebody attacked me and soon after parking the car and went inside the house. Next morning, I took one of my colleagues and a relative with me visit the nearby police station and filed an application narrating the whole episode. But no FIR was registered, he added.

 

Suzuki Bleno and close-up of bullet dent

 

After writing a story “Qadri Supporters have becomepolitical power, claimed Sheikh Rasheed” [Link provided by Shamim. Updated 7/27/17] I received threatening phone calls. But thought of usual matter as it is routine matter for me receiving such type of phone calls for writing on minorities’ issues and rights as Pakistani citizen.

 

It is pertinent to mention here that it is not the first threat as journalist I am facing. There are number of threatening phone calls and even harsh words exchanged with some religious extremists which has become a routine matter for writing on rights of the minorities, especially Christians. But the latest episode is unique which made my whole family worried as my wife is asking me to leave this profession, which I cannot at any cost. Though this incident has put me and my family under constant threat but I believe that God wants me to write for His people even if under stress and strain. God will take care of it.

 

I know that my credibility and objectivity rest on my ability to be proactive in highlighting issues revolving religion and victimization of religious minorities.  What has alarmed us is the fact that authorities do not extend any help or support.

 

After this incident, I planned to shift my rented house as the landlord advised me to evacuate the house. Since I am paying Rs. 21000/month in house rent, to hire a new house requires to pay at least three months advance and some other shifting expenses required to settle down at new place. At the same time, I need to look for a new school for my children studying in Grade 10, grade 6 and grade 2. My oldest son has recently passed his Secondary School Examination and is looking for college admission.

 

I am poor but passionate Christian journalist and hardly making the both ends meet, it would be hard to meet the expenses required. In this situation, if any of you can support me to shift to another house and schooling of my children. I would be highly grateful to your contribution.

 

The total cost required is approximately $2000/ U.S., including shifting and schooling of the children. If you would like to contribute please note down the bank details or you can send your contribution through Western Union.

 

SUPPORT Shamim’s Christian advocacy in Pakistan. First contact Shamim in case he has found an easy way to donate. I like to use Western Union sending money with this LINK to the destination of Islamabad (Contact Shamim in case he has changed cities). Shamim’s email is shamimpakistan@gmail.com, Western Union may ask for Shamim’s phone – +92-300-642-4560

 

Bank-to-Bank Money Transfer

 

Account Name: SHAMIM MASIH, Account Number:  PK72ABPA0010025935800015

ABPAPKKA (Swift code)

Allied Bank Ltd. Sitara Market, Sector G-7 Markaz, Islamabad

Contact Number. +92 300 642 4560

 

Yours in Jesus,

 

Shamim Masih

_________________

Edited by John R. Houk

All source links are by the Editor

 

© Shamim Mahmood (Masih)

 

Blasphemy Law is Revenge Instrument in Pakistan


John R. Houk

© July 19, 2017

 

American 1st Amendment Truth is a Death Sentence in Pakistan

 

And yet another Pakistani Christian is being accused of blaspheming the false-prophet Muhammad as a tool of revenge in a Muslim/Christian argument.

 

Christians in Pakistan are treated as subhuman class of dirt even being denied proper avenues of education. Why? Because Muslims are taught in their revered writings – Quran, Hadith and Sira/Sunnah – that Muslims are superior are to ALL non-Muslims and those non-Muslims should be denigrated for refusing to believe in Islam.

 

Needless to say, equal justice for all people is something that is extremely absent in Islamic dominated societies.

 

The lack of justice and equal rights are particularly apparent in Pakistan’s society when Christians risk voicing their opinion that Christ is the Son of God and Muhammad is a false-prophet. This will get you beaten or killed by a Muslim mob or escaping public Muslim retribution, put in jail being charged with the capital crime of blasphemy.

 

Yet burning a Church, torching a cross or destroying a Holy Bible will not be treated as a crime in Pakistan.

 

The Pakistani Christian Shahzad Masih is finding this hatred of Christians on a first-hand basis.

 

I was first made aware of Shahzad Masih’s plight in an email alert from Assist News. I discovered greater details from World Watch Monitor (WWM) on Shahzad’s persecution. Some of the details differ. For example, Assist News has Shahzad as age 17 and WWM lists him as age 16. Assist News writes from the perspective of the mother listed as Hina Shafaqat. WWM uses the father’s perspective who is listed Shafaqat implying the last name of Masih. One should realize among Pakistani Christians “Masih” is a Christian honorific.

 

I am cross posting Assist News first for getting the story to me and then the WWM article which has better details.

 

JRH 7/19/17

Please Support NCCR

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ISLAMISTS IN PAKISTAN ACCUSE CHRISTIAN MINOR OF BLASPHEMING ISLAM’S PROPHET

 

By Dan Wooding

July 19, 2017 03:39

Assist News

 

Shahzad Masih – Morning Star News courtesy of family

No motive given for alleged comment.

 

LAHOREPAKISTAN (ANS — July 18, 2017) – A member of an Islamic extremist group in Pakistan has accused a Christian minor of blasphemy after the boy had an argument with a Muslim, sources said.

 

Hina Shafaqat, mother of 17-year-old Shahzad Masih, told Morning Star News (http://morningstarnews.org) that her son had been wrongly implicated in the case by a Muslim colleague with whom he had a quarrel 10 days ago, and the family has not been able to locate him since his arrest.

 

Working as a sweeper at Shamim Riaz Hospital in Dinga town, Gujrat District, Punjab Province for the past nine months, Masih had an altercation with hospital pharmacy employee Ishtiaq Ahmed Jalali, she said. A senior medical officer at the hospital intervened and calmed the quarrel, but “Jalali nurtured a grudge against my son and has now plotted this case against him to settle the score,” she said.

 

“I’ve raised Shahzad as a devout Roman Catholic – I’ve never taught my children to hate people belonging to other faiths, which is why I am sure that my son is being wrongly accused of blasphemy,” she said. “The police arrested my son on Friday [July 14], and since then we have been trying to locate his whereabouts.”

 

Neither the Dinga police nor the Kharian police said they have him in their custody, she said.

 

“We have searched so many police stations but have failed to trace him,” she said, adding that police were torturing the family mentally by not disclosing her son’s location or revealing his well-being.

 

According to the Pakistan correspondent for Morning Star News, Masih, the oldest of five children, is the family breadwinner along with his father, a daily wage mason. Shahzad Masih went to school until grade four, after which his family could not afford to further education.

 

“We, and the family of my brother-in-law Rafaqat, had to relocate to a relative’s house on Friday [July 14] to avoid any backlash from the local Muslims, who are being instigated by an Islamist outfit,” she said.

 

More than 30 other Christian families also live in Mohalla Railway Station of Dinga town.

 

Dinga Police Station House Officer (SHO) Inspector Shahbaz Ahmad dodged questions about facts of the case, telling Morning Star News only, “The accused has committed blasphemy.”

 

Morning Star News stated that the police official did note that a First Information Report (FIR No. 273/17) was registered against Masih under Section 295-C, which calls for death or life imprisonment to those found guilty of blaspheming against Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

 

According to the FIR, complainant Nadeem Ahmed – president of the Dinga chapter of Islamist outfit Tehreek Tahafuz-e-Islam Pakistan – alleged that he was sitting in his electronic appliances shop when Ishtiaq Ahmed Jalali came and informed him that Masih had uttered derogatory remarks against Muhammad. Jalali is also a member of Tehreek Tahafuz-e-Islam Pakistan.

 

“Upon hearing this, we sent a boy to Shahzad Masih’s home and asked him to come to the Popular Mobile Shop for clearing the issue,” Ahmed alleged in the FIR. “When Masih came there, we asked him about the accusation, to which he again started abusing and cursing the Holy Prophet. Some people who had gathered at the shop by then also witnessed the blasphemy done by Masih.”

 

Ahmed alleged that the Christian boy “managed to escape from the shop.”

 

Inspector Ahmad declined to comment on why he thought Masih had committed blasphemy or if he had admitted to it.

 

“You know very well I cannot repeat the blasphemous words,” he said, avoiding questions as to what could have motivated the Christian to do such a thing. He also did not offer any plausible explanation as to how Masih was able to flee from the scene in the presence of a large number of upset Muslims.

 

“Talk to the SP, because we just registered the case and forwarded it to him for further action,” he said before putting down the phone.

 

Repeated attempts to reach Superintendent of Police (SP) Maaz Zafar failed as his telephone operator said that the senior official was busy and would return the call later. At this writing, however, Zafar had not contacted Morning Star News.

 

Attorneys Riaz Anjum and Kashif Naimat from the Pakistan Center for Law and Justice (PCLJ) told Morning Star News from Dinga that they had offered legal and financial assistance to Shahzad Masih’s family as he was one of the main providers of income for the family, and his arrest had badly degraded their finances.

 

“The case is clearly fabricated, because the FIR does not state any motive for Shahzad Masih’s alleged blasphemy,” Anjum said. “It’s very unfortunate that Pakistani police book people in blasphemy cases before even trying to ascertain the facts. Now the boy will be made to suffer in prison like so many other innocent people who have fallen victim to the harsh blasphemy laws.”

 

He said that their investigation had corroborated the account of the Christian family.

 

“It is true that Masih had a fight with a pharmacy worker over a week ago, and the matter was resolved by a doctor,” Anjum said. “Local sources told us that Jalali bore a grudge against Masih, and he had connived with the complainant, Nadeem Ahmad, to settle his personal score with the Christian boy.”

 

+++

Pakistani Christian boy, 16, charged with blasphemy for discussing his faith

 

By World Watch Monitor

July 19, 2017

 

Pakistani Muslims call for the hanging of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman on death row for blasphemy since 2010, at a protest in Karachi on 13 October 2016. That was the day Pakistan’s Supreme Court delayed her appeal after one of the judges stepped down.

 

A 16-year-old Pakistani Christian boy has been charged with blasphemy for talking with a colleague about his belief in Jesus, the second such incident in a month.

 

Shahzad Masih, 16, a cleaner at a hospital in the city of Dinga (near the religiously conservative city of Gujrat), was arrested on 13 July after his colleague, Ishtiaq Ahmed Jalali, accused him of insulting Islam’s prophet Muhammad, a crime punishable with death in Pakistan.

 

A month earlier, on 15 June, Ashfaq Masih, 28, was arrested in the nearby city of Lahore for saying he believed Jesus to be the final prophet.

 

The latest incident took place at the Shameem Riaz Polyclinic. Jalali, who works at the hospital pharmacy, is a member of Tehreek-e-Tahfuz-e-Islam Pakistan, an organisation that strives to protect the name and honour of Muhammad. It belongs to the Barelvi school [Blog Editor: Barelvi extremist Islamism has developed according Left-Wing news site HuffPo] of Islamic thought, which is considered “moderate” and has even faced criticism from other Muslims for its “polytheism” of worshipping at shrines. Barelvis are known for the special respect they afford to Muhammad – more so than any other Islamic school of thought – and are chief supporters of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

 

Shahzad Masih’s father, Shafaqat, who works as a labourer, told World Watch Monitor that the argument related to who Christians worship.

 

One of the relatives of Shahzad Masih’s colleague Ishtiaq Ahmed Jalali, a leader of Tehreek-e-Tahfuz-e-Islam Pakistan, told a local TV station a day after Masih’s arrest: “If the blasphemer is acquitted of the charge then each member of our organisation would attack him.”

 

“My son told him that we follow Jesus and then their discussion became sour, at which point a doctor intervened and calmed them down,” he said.

 

The police complaint was lodged by another man, Nadeem Ahmed, who claims to have called Shahzad Masih from his mobile phone repair shop, which is beside the hospital, to ask him about what he’d said. In his report, Ahmed states that Masih repeated his “abusive words” against Muhammad and then fled.

 

Police reports in Pakistan, called First Information Reports (FIR), are often key in court cases, though the veracity of the claims in such reports is often the subject of contention.

 

Shafaqat Masih says that two days prior to the lodging of the FIR, his son’s colleague, Ishtiaq Jalali, told his son that Christians worship at the shrines of Muslim sages.

 

“My son told him that he didn’t know about this and he would ask me about it,” Shafaqat Masih said. “Then on 13 July, I was at work when he called me at around 4pm. He had returned from hospital but they asked him to come to the mobile phone repair shop, which is in front of the hospital.

 

“I told him that it would take me some time to get there, so he should call his uncle, Rafaqat, whom I also called on the phone to go to him. I arrived at around 7pm at the hospital, where they all had gathered. We tried to intervene, but they did not let us talk. Then they told us that they did not want to make the matter public and wanted to settle it amicably. At the same time, they kept calling others to join them and a large number of clerics gathered while we three were all alone [Shahzad, his father and uncle].

 

“One of the clerics told me that the head of a nearby madrassah had called them to the madrassah to settle the matter, after which the entire mob went there.

 

“[His uncle] Rafaqat and I also went there, but I sent Rafaqat to go inside along with Shahzad, who they had in their custody. The leader of the group argued that the crime committed by Shahzad was punishable with death alone. While they were discussing this, two police vans arrived. The chief policeman asked for Shahzad, but they were reluctant to give him up and only handed him over on the promise that the decision would be taken the next morning. As I was standing outside, I saw the police taking Shahzad along with them, but since then they haven’t allowed us to see him.”

 

The police chief, Shahbaz Hinjra, told a local newspaper that Masih was in their custody and that they were investigating the matter.

 

Former Punjab parliamentarian Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, leader of the largest Christian political party, told World Watch Monitor that he had personally investigated the matter and found that initial argument had centred over Shahzad Masih’s colleague’s attempts to convert him to Islam.

 

“When our people try to defend themselves and their faith then often it becomes an issue and later such cases are lodged,” he said.

 

One of Jalali’s relatives, Muhammad Saqib Shakeel Jalali, a leader of Tehreek-e-Tahfuz-e-Islam Pakistan, told a local TV station a day after Masih’s arrest: “If the blasphemer is acquitted of the charge then each member of our organisation would attack him.”

 

Pakistani Muslims line up to visit the tomb of [assassin] Mumtaz Qadri on the outskirts of Islamabad on 1 March 2017. Qadri was hanged in February 2016 for the murder of former Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, who criticised Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and defended Asia Bibi, a Christian woman on death row for blasphemy since 2010.

 

Masih’s father says he and his family have been on the run ever since. “We don’t even know what to eat and where to live,” he said.

 

His uncle, Rafaqat, told World Watch Monitor that there are about 25 Christian families in the area and no such incident had ever taken place before.

 

The Tehreek-e-Tahfuz-e-Islam Pakistan website claims that no suspect has yet been awarded the death penalty under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, even though the Christian woman Asia Bibi has been on death row for blasphemy since 2010. The website also says that liberal Muslims want to amend the current blasphemy law and must be stopped – a key reason for the organisation’s founding 10 years ago. In April, a Muslim student was beaten to death in the city of Mardan following an accusation of blasphemy.

 

Several blasphemy cases have been registered before in Gujrat, one of the most conservative areas of the Punjab province. In August 2015, 15 Christians were accused of blasphemy after they used the word “apostle” to describe a pastor who had died years before. Then in July 2016, a Christian man was accused of blasphemy after a religious argument on the messaging service WhatsApp. Both cases are still pending in the court.

 

The Aasiya Noreen story

Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, received the death penalty in 2010 after she allegedly made derogatory comments about Islam’s prophet Muhammad during an argument with a Muslim woman.

While the two women were working together, the Muslim woman had refused water from Bibi on the grounds that it was “unclean” because it had been handled by a Christian.

The Muslim woman, together with her sister, were the only two witnesses in the case, but the defence failed to convince the appeals judges that their evidence lacked credibility.

In the High Court appeal hearing in October 2014, Bibi’s lawyer, Naeem Shakir, argued that the main complainant in the case, the local Muslim cleric Mohamed Salaam, had not heard Bibi blaspheme, and that his original complaint had been lodged five days after the women’s quarrel. Shakir argued in his appeal that during the trial the only reason given for this delay was “deliberation and consultation”, and said that Salaam had acknowledged this in court.

Salaam was filmed by an international film crew who made a film about Bibi in May/June 2014, saying that it is his religious obligation to defend the dignity of Muhammad and that is why he decided to be a witness before the court. He only heard Bibi allegedly confess to blasphemy when she had been brought before a village council several days after the quarrel.

Her other main accuser, Mohamed Imran, the owner of the field in which she worked, had not been present at the time of the quarrel either; he was away from the village.

Bibi’s case attracted widespread global attention, much of it critical of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws, which critics contend are routinely abused as a pretext to settle personal scores. Two prominent Pakistani politicians were assassinated in 2010 after they spoke publicly in Bibi’s defence.

______________

Blasphemy Law is Revenge Instrument in Pakistan

John R. Houk

© July 19, 2017

_____________

ISLAMISTS IN PAKISTAN ACCUSE CHRISTIAN MINOR OF BLASPHEMING ISLAM’S PROPHET

 

About the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 54 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He is also the author of some 45 books and has two US-based TV programs –- “Windows on the World” (with Garry Ansdell) and “Inside Hollywood with Dan Wooding” — which are both broadcast on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv/), and also a weekly radio show called “Front Page Radio” on the KWVE Radio Network (www.kwve.com).

 

You may republish this or any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net). Please tell your friends and colleagues that they can receive a complimentary subscription to our news service by going to the above ANS website and signing up there.

________________

Pakistani Christian boy, 16, charged with blasphemy for discussing his faith

 

Copyright © 2011 – 2017 — World Watch Monitor. All Rights Reserved. 

 

About WWM

 

World Watch Monitor reports the story of Christians around the world under pressure for their faith.

 

Freedom of belief, guaranteed by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, plays a critical part in the unfolding, complex story of the 21st Century. We exist to tell this part of the story with accuracy and authority. We respect and uphold everyone’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; Our focus is on the global Christian Church.

 

World Watch Monitor is particularly concerned with reporting on the underlying causes of persecution. We aim to connect the dots to reveal the forces behind acts of violence and injustice.

 

We strive to be the most trusted and consulted source of news about Christians who suffer for their faith. World Watch Monitor editors commission journalists around the world to report on persecution, from READ THE REST