Tuesday, 18 October 2011

False news of Nigerian Christians being burnt

An image of burnt people has been circulating on Facebook with thousands of people sharing the image without realizing that it is not been reported in mainstream media at all and so they did not even confirm it's authentication.
The Incident of July 03 2010 is the explosion of a Tanker in Congo resulting in the death of 235 people and injuring 190.
The same image has been shared on walls of many people claiming the image to be from Nigeria where Christians have been burnt either in a Church or a village. Nigeria has a record of assault on Christians and so it was easy for many to believe it to be a real incident.
Praise and Thank the Lord; that it never happened.

We request you all not to spread False news without checking first.

Here is a link of the incident in Congo:

Here is a video:

Friday, 7 October 2011

45 heavily armed men attack Christians, one murdered, 21 injured

Muslims in Punjabs’s Mian Channu area shot dead an unarmed Christian man and injured 21 others, six of them critically, in an attempted land-grab on Wednesday (Oct. 5).
Residents of the area said that 40 to 45 heavily-armed Muslims on 10 to 12 motorcycles, two tractor-trolleys and in a car reached Chak 134-16/L village, in Khanewal district, and forcibly entered the home of Adeel Kashif, a Christian carpenter who was living on a government-owned piece of land.
“The attackers forced their way into Kashif’s house and started throwing the family’s belongings onto the street,” Wazir Masih, a Christian elder in the area. “They also tore the clothes off Kashif’s three female family members – Violet, 40, Parveen, 35, and Esther, 17, and tortured the family.”
Masih said the assailants wanted to take illegal possession of the 18-marla piece of land (in Pakistan, one marla equals 30.25 square yards).
“Since pre-partition days, a piece of government land is given to Kammis [laborers or craftsmen] for residence, and in return they help the villagers in whatever way they can,” Masih said. “This allotment is made with the complete consensus of the villagers.”
Before Kashif, a Muslim carpenter named Muhammad Iqbal was allowed to live on the property, he said.
“Iqbal lived there for over 10 years and moved out about two months ago,” Masih said. “However, before leaving he prepared fake papers of the land in connivance with the Patwari [local revenue officer] and a local Muslim group and ‘sold’ it to them for 130,000 rupees [US$1,480],” Masih said, adding that the entire process was fraudulent because no one can sell the government’s land in a personal capacity.
He said that on Wednesday (Oct. 5), armed Muslims led by men of the area’s powerful Jagrane family arrived at the house and tried to force the Christians out.
“Kashif’s neighbors and some other villagers came out of their homes on hearing the commotion,” Masih said. “The village comprises about 250 Christian families, and some 90 to 100 people gathered there and tried to persuade the Muslims not to dislodge the Christian carpenter illegally. None of the Christians present there was carrying any weapon, as no one was expecting such a harsh action by the Muslims.”
Masih said the Muslims suddenly opened indiscriminate fire on the Christians, instantly killing 25-year-old Sajid Bashir Masih and seriously injuring 21 others, including women and children. He added that six of the injured were in critical condition, one of them Sajid Bashir Masih’s younger brother, Haroon.
“The Christians had done nothing to provoke the Muslims into employing such brute force,” Wazir Masih said. “They just opened fire on the defenseless people with their automatic rifles and shotguns.”
Masih said that as soon as Sajid Bashir Masih succumbed to his injuries, some of the assailants fled the scene while others took refuge inside Kashif’s house and started shooting at the villagers. He said the villagers immediately informed police, who arrived soon from a nearby station.
Police besieged the house and eventually managed to arrest 16 armed assailants, but the primary suspects remain free.
A First Information Report was registered against the attackers in Mian Channu’s Saddar Police Station by the deceased’s father, Bashir Masih, early yesterday (FIR No. 432 under sections 302, 324, 448, 511, 452, 148 and 149 of the Pakistan Penal Code).
Some of the injured Christians have been transferred to the District Headquarters Hospital, while those with serious bullet wounds have been admitted to the Nishtar Hospital in Multan.
A.D. Sahil, a Christian schoolteacher of the area said the Christians suspected police complicity in the incident.
“The police station is just a couple of kilometers away, yet such a large group of heavily-armed Muslims managed to reach our village in broad daylight,” he said, adding that there was tension between the two communities since the killing, and police have been deployed in the village. “The district police chief and the district’s administrative head reached the village soon after the incident and held negotiations with us.”
He added that, in view of the history of bitter inter-religious relations in the area, government officials have given assurances of protection to local Christians. The village is near Shantinagar, a Christian village attacked by thousands of Islamist extremists on Feb. 6, 1997.
The Muslims burned down 785 houses and four churches, and more than 2,500 Christians had to flee following allegations that a Christian villager had blasphemed against the Muslim prophet, Muhammad.

Armed group kills Christian over disputed land in Mian Channu

Lahore – Sabir Masih, a Pakistani Christian living in Mian Channu, a town in Khanewal District (Punjab), was brutally murdered Wednesday night over a land dispute. A dozen people were injured. According to sources, a local Church had bought the land to build an orphanage, but an influential local feudal lord, Muhammad Ali Durrani, wanted to claim the land.

Local residents say the land mafia is strongly back by the influential feudal lord and they tried to take the land bought by the Church. On Monday, local residents submitted an application at the local police station against Durrani and his associates, but police tried to pressure them and threatened them to withdraw their complaint.

On Wednesday, arriving by car, armed men attacked locals, murdered Sabir Masih, and injured over a dozen other residents including children. They also took over the land. Police did not register a First Information Report (FIR) about the anti-Christian attack.

The Catholic Church in Khanewal has condemned the latest incident and called for immediate action.

“We strongly condemn this murder,” Fr Ilyas John from Khanewal said. “This is not the first incident of land grabbing in the district,” he said “Influential feudals target the weak and the vulnerable.”

The local Church does not have a big congregation but bought the land to build an orphanage. However, it should have given greater consideration to the organizational capacity needed in taking such a step because “the land mafia in this region is very strong and they keep an eye on such projects as they are an easy catch,” the clergyman explained.

Church of Scotland Trust asks help to stop illegal property sales

Islamabad—Church of Scotland Trust has sought the help of the Government to stop the illegal sale of property of worship places of minorities and denationalization of Murray College Sialkot, which was the property of the Trust. A four member delegation of Church of Scotland Trust headed by Dr. Peter J David, Attorney Church of Scotland in Pakistan called on Minister of State for National Harmony, Akram Masih Gill here on Thursday. Asia Secretary of Scotland world Mission Council, Mr. Sandy and Dr. Andrew Macllen, President Church of Scotland World Mission Council were also present in the meeting.

The delegation apprised the minister of occupation of land allocated for worship places of the minorities in Pakistan and added that property of Churches in Sialkot , Daska, Jalapur Jattan and Wazirabad is being sold illegally. The delegation informed the minister that Murray College and about 12 other Schools in the area of Sialkot were property of Church of Scotland Trust and nationalized in the past.

The delegation requested the minister to play role to stop the illegal sale of property of Churches and denationalization of educational institutions, which were the property of the Church of Scotland Trust. The minister said government is trying its best to take steps for the social uplift of the minorities in the country and assured the delegation to extend all possible help to address the issue.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Christian Mother of Five in Pakistan Alleges Rape

A Christian mother of five was allegedly raped by two Muslim men last week, and area Islamists are threatening to harm her family if charges against the suspects are not dropped, the woman and her husband.

On Thursday (Sept. 15), the 32-year-old woman said, she was returning home to Mustafabad, in Punjab Province’s Kasur district, from a garment factory where she works. Two Muslims, identified only as 23-year-old Bhallu and 27-year-old Shera, along with an unidentified accomplice, allegedly abducted her at gunpoint, took her to an abandoned house in the area and raped her, she said.

Working late, she had reached the Mustafabad bus stop at 11:45 p.m. and had begun walking to her home five minutes away; the street was deserted, said the alleged victim, whose name is withheld.
“As soon as I entered our street, Bhallu appeared from the shadows and put his hand on my mouth,” she told Compass by phone. “A second person, who I later recognized as Bhallu’s friend Shera, came from behind and put a pistol on my temple. A third person also appeared on the scene, and together they first gagged me and then forcibly took me to an abandoned house. I tried my best to get free from their hold and save myself, but they were too powerful for me.”

Once inside, she said, they took off her gag, and she pleaded with them to leave her alone.

“I tried screaming, but they hit me,” she said, sobbing. “Not for a minute did they acknowledge that I was a mother to five children. Then they raped me, one after the other. Their third accomplice stood guard as they tore in on me like animals.”

She said that her tormentors let her go after more than an hour.

“They had torn my clothes, and I could barely step outside the house,” she said. “I don’t know how I managed to reach my home … Words fail me even now.”

Muslim criminals in Pakistan, where the population is more than 95 percent Muslim according to Operation World, tend to assume they will not be prosecuted if their victims are Christians. The accuser said Muslim men in the area have been harassing Christian women for some time.

“There are around 500 Christian houses in this area, which is predominantly inhabited by Muslims,” she said. “There have been several instances when they have publicly harassed us but have gotten away with it, because we keep silent to avoid a clash.”

A month ago, as she was returning home from work, she was near her house when she suddenly felt someone pulling her head scarf, she said. She turned and found one of Bhallu’s friends holding the head scarf.

“I started screaming, and my husband and a neighbor rushed out, but the boy walked away as if nothing had happened,” she said. “We did not say a word about this to anyone out of shame and fear of the Muslims.”

She said that after that incident, her husband, who works as a sweeper, began accompanying her to and from the bus stop.

“But there were days when he could not accompany me to the bus stop, and I used to walk alone,” she said.

Her husband, Mushtaq Masih, said that he was speechless after she told him about the ordeal.

“We have five children – three boys and two girls – with the oldest daughter studying in sixth grade – I cannot express the thoughts that filled my mind at that time,” Masih said. “The Muslims had ruined us completely, and I did not know what would happen to us if we reported the crime, but seeing my wife devastated, I decided to face the rapists.”

He called police, who visited the crime scene and took the woman to the hospital for a medical examination that proved she had been gang-raped, he said. Police filed a First Information Report (FIR No. 491/11) against Bhallu and his accomplices.

The woman said that she knew Bhallu only because he lived in her neighborhood, and that although she recognized Shera, she did not know his name until the FIR was filed.

Masih said that Shera’s name came up during the initial police investigation, and he was in custody when the investigating officer asked Masih to bring his wife to the police station to identify the suspects. Bhallu had fled the area.

His wife said that as they reached the police station, Muslims warned the family against pointing out Shera.

“They told us that they will kill my children and husband if I identify Shera,” she said. “They said that we should not forget that we are chooras [sweepers, a derogatory word for Christians] and can bring no harm to them. They also warned that our daughters would face a similar fate if we did not listen to them.”

She refused to identify Shera and returned home, she said.

“What happened to me should not happen to any of them,” she said. “My children are my world, how could I put their lives in danger? … Please pray that no woman suffers what I have been through.”

Pressure to Drop ChargesArea Christians were shocked. The family continues to receive threats to withdraw the case against the primary suspect, Bhallu, who has been seen in the area several times though police have yet to arrest him, Masih said.

“Our Muslim neighbors are pressuring us to withdraw the case,” he said. “They want us to reach an agreement with Bhallu and his friends. They want us to ‘pardon’ the criminals who have dishonored us.”

Police are using delay tactics in the pursuit of Bhallu, Masih said.

“We told the Mustafabad police in-charge that the Muslims are forcing us to withdraw the case, but he is not bothered,” Masih said. He added that some policemen had also asked him to withdraw the case, saying there was little chance his wife would get justice.

“They asked me to take money in return for withdrawing the case,” Masih said. “They want that I should sell my wife’s honor for money.”

Investigating Officer Muhammad Sharif dismissed the Christians’ accusations that police had sought money in exchange for dropping the case, and he refused to acknowledge that Muslims were threatening the woman’s family and needed police protection.

Sharif told Compass that police were trying to arrest Bhallu.

“We took his father into custody but released him after interrogation,” he said. “I will soon catch hold of Bhallu.”

Sharif said the investigation would accelerate after the primary suspect is arrested.

As Masih and the few Christians daring to support him ponder their next step, the woman maintains a faint hope of getting justice in a country where Christians have little legal or societal standing. Mukhtar Masih, an elder of the area Presbyterian church, said the Christians were helpless as the Muslims held sway over local police.

“Several Christian women have complained that the Muslims have harassed them, but this is something that we have to live with every day,” he said, adding that even though the community was shocked, no one was coming forward to help the family because “they are afraid of the Muslims.”

Area resident Arif Masih told Compass that the Christians’ fears were understandable.

“We don’t have anyone who can face the police and the Muslims,” he said. “What happened to Masih’s wife is very tragic and can happen to any one of us, but is there really anything we can do about it?”

Christian Nurse in Pakistan Boldly Opts to Report Videotaped Rape

A Christian nurse  filed a police report on Sept. 3 alleging she was raped by a Muslim colleague who filmed the act in an attempt to blackmail her into renouncing her faith and marrying him, she and hospital sources told Compass.

Shaista Samuel, a 27-year-old nurse at the Services Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS), filed a First Information Report (FIR) at Shadman police station accusing Ali Adnan, an assistant accounts officer at the hospital, and an armed accomplice of abducting her at gunpoint from the government hospital on Aug. 21 and taking her to a house in Lahore where Adnan’s accomplice filmed the rape.

“[Adnan] was holding my arm tightly and forcibly led me to a white car in the parking lot,” Samuel said in tears, adding that as they approached the car, Adnan’s accomplice came out of the shadows and placed a handgun to her head. “Adnan said that they would shoot me if I raised my voice. I was in complete shock … my senses went numb, and I could not believe this was happening to me. They took me to a house in WAPDA Town [for housing Water and Power Development Authority workers in Lahore], where Adnan raped me while his friend filmed the entire incident. They ruined my life completely.”

Christians have little legal or societal standing in Pakistan, and Muslim criminals tend to assume they will not be prosecuted if their victims are Christians.

Samuel said she had worked several years at the hospital on good terms with Adnan.

“I thought of him as a good friend, since we were working together… he used to visit my home often and was known to my family,” she said.

Recently, however, Adnan had begun acting strangely toward her, she said.
 “He started criticizing Christians for not observing the purdah [covering of women] and of following our ‘own brand of religion,’” she said. “One day when I was least expecting it, he told me that he had started liking me and that I should convert to Islam and marry him. I told him that I had always considered him just a friend, and that although I held him in great regard, marrying him was not possible since we belonged to different faiths.”

Adnan began harassing her at the workplace and by telephone, she said.
“He used to block my way at the hospital, and then one day he forced his way into my house and threatened me and my family, saying that he would not rest until they marry me to him,” she said. “He was acting like a mad man … He started cursing my family and even tried to set the house on fire.”

Disturbed by Adnan’s obsessive behavior, Samuel said that she tried her best not to come into any sort of contact with him. On Aug. 21, however, as soon as she entered the hospital he approached her from behind and forced her to sit in a car in the hospital’s parking area, she said.

“All this while, he told me not to make a commotion as it would only create an embarrassing situation for me,” she said. “He said he just wanted to talk to me to ‘clear up some misunderstandings.’”
He then led her to the white car, and the accomplice appeared. Samuel said the two men held her for over an hour and then dropped her back at the hospital, telling her that if she told anyone about the rape they would send the film to her family and also upload it on social networking sites.
 In Pakistan, a rape victim is generally considered too shamed to resume a normal life or pursue marriage.

“I was devastated,” she said. “I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me. I did not share my ordeal with any person, not even my parents. I did not have the courage to tell them that their daughter had been dishonored, and decided to keep my misery to myself … I could not see my father and brothers face the shame brought by my bad luck.”
Her misery did not end there – Adnan began trying to blackmail her by phone, she added.

“At first he demanded that I convert to Islam, and only then would he consider forgiving me for refusing his proposal,” she said.

When she refused, he began demanding sexual favors and threatening to come to her house and show the film to her family – Pakistanis tend to shame the victims rather than the perpetrators of rape – but Samuel refused to be manipulated by his threats, she said.

“My defiance angered Adnan to such an extent that one evening he turned up at my home and showed the film to my parents,” Samuel said. “He then told my shocked family that they had no other option but to hand me over to him ... he told them that he ‘owned’ me now.”

Adnan left the house, leaving the family, members of Church of Pakistan-affiliated St. Andrews Church, in deep anguish.

“We had a very tough decision to make,” Samuel said. ‘We could have either conceded to his demand or be ready to face the shame and dishonor by reporting his crime, but we chose the latter. Adnan must be punished for ruining my life. I thank God that he rescued me from Adnan’s blackmailing, otherwise I would have remained in mental agony for the rest of my life.”
Compass tried to reach Adnan for comment, but he was unavailable as he had turned off his cell phone.

Although Shaista and her family have filed an FIR with police, getting justice without higher government help may be difficult. At press time police had yet to arrest the two suspects, who fled their homes soon after the registration of the case and have managed to obtain pre-arrest bail.
  “The police deliberately gave them time to get interim bails,” Samuel said. “My father and brothers have been going to the police station every day to ask them to record the statements of the accused, but the investigating officer of the case is using delay tactics. I’ve been asked ridiculous questions about the incident, but I will not be discouraged from seeking justice.”

Samuel said she was tired of suspicious and questioning eyes at her workplace and has taken leave from the hospital. The administration has formed a committee to probe into the matter.
  “I am sick and tired of people staring at me and asking questions,” she said, adding that after she took leave, no one from the hospital administration had contacted her though she had heard of the committee’s formation. The two-member committee includes SIMS medical Superintendent Muhammad Javaid and the hospital’s finance director.

Many of Pakistan’s Christian Flood Victims Still Homeless

Many Christians living in the southern belt of Pakistan’s Punjab Province who lost their houses in last year’s floods remain homeless despite a plan by the Punjab government to allocate land to residents in the area, area Christians said.

Hameed Masih, a resident of Kot Addu in Muzaffargarh district, said the provincial government has not set a quota for granting of land to members of minority communities left homeless by the devastating floods that began in late July 2010.

The government has begun four plans in Kot Addu under which around 435 plots of five marlas (151 square yards) each were to be distributed among people who lost their property. Several people were allotted land last month, but so far no minority member has been given land, he said.

“Christians in this area are not rich people,” Masih said. “They lost their houses and lands in the floods and should have been given a 5 percent quota in the scheme. Flood victims could have been easily accommodated, but the quota system has not been followed, and thus no minority member has been allotted land.”

Aid distribution was also initially unfair, he said.

“There were some problems in the beginning, but then minority members protested and the issue was resolved,” he said.

Masih added that Christian families in his village are receiving monthly stipends from the government.

The list of homeless people was prepared by local land revenue officers who did not do so fairly, said another Christian. Sarwar Masih said he does not have property and does menial work for a living, but his name was not included in the list by the land revenue officers, or patwaris.

“Patwaris had to refer our names to higher authorities, but the names of those who could not ‘make them happy’ were not included in the list,” he said. “My name was not in the list, so I had no hope of getting land, though being homeless I fulfill the criteria.”

Areas where plots have been allotted include Gurmani Sharki, Jandeer Dueaja, Chak 568 and Chowk Sarwar Shaheed. There are some 8,500 registered minority voters, mostly Christians and Hindus, in these areas, with the total minority population said to be around 18,000.

“Several people who have been allotted plots under this scheme already have plenty of resources and land, while those who do not have property have been ignored,” said a Christian identified only as Wasim, who is minorities coordinator of Kot Addu.

He added that one person who owns 22 acres of agricultural land has been allotted more land under the government rehabilitation plan.

Napoleon Qayyum, a minority rights activist and leader of the Minorities Wing of the Pakistan People’s Party, said that under Pakistan’s constitution, minorities should be given a 5 percent quota in all government plans. He added that the Punjab government should adhere to that quota as well.

Officials from the local administration responded to the allegations by saying they did not directly handle flood rehabilitation, adding that plots were allotted to homeless people through a lottery draw.

Chaudhry Ehsanul Haq Nolatia, a local Member of the Provincial Assembly from Kot Addu, said a committee was formed to look into the allotment.

“It is true that the government did not allocate any special quota for minorities in the scheme, but the plots were distributed through a draw,” he said.

He added that he would take up the issue in the Punjab Assembly.

Flooding from monsoon rains affected the Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan regions and the Indus River basin, submerging about one-fifth of Pakistan’s land. Close to 2,000 people died, and some 20 million people lost their livelihood, property or other infrastructure in the flooding.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Girl accused of blasphemy for a spelling error

ABBOTTABAD:  It may have been a mere misplaced dot that led to accusations of blasphemy against a Christian eighth-grader, whose miniscule error led to her expulsion from school and uproar amongst local religious leaders.
Faryal Bhatti, a student at the Sir Syed Girls High School in Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) colony Havelian, erroneously misspelt a word in an Urdu exam while answering a question on a poem written in praise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The word in question was ‘laanat’ instead of ‘naat’ – an easy error for a child to make, as the written versions of the words are similar.
According to the school administration and religious leaders who took great exception to the hapless student’s mistake, the error is ‘serious’ enough to fall within the realm of blasphemy, Saturday.
Spelling out her punishment
On Thursday, Faryal’s Urdu teacher was collecting the answer sheets from her students when she noticed the apparently offensive word on her pupil’s sheet. The teacher, Fareeda Bibi, reportedly summoned the Christian girl, scolded her and beat her. Her punishment, however, did not end here. When Faryal’s class fellows learnt of the alleged blasphemy, the teacher brought the principal’s notice to the matter, who further informed the school management.
In the meanwhile, the news spread throughout the colony. The next day, male students of the POF colony school as well as certain religious elements took out a rally, demanding the registration of a criminal case against the eighth-grader and her expulsion from the area.
Prayer leaders within the community also condemned the incident in their Friday sermons, asking the colony’s administration to not only take action against Faryal but her entire family. In the wake of the increasing tensions, Managing Director POF Colony Havelian Asif Siddiki called a meeting of colony-based ulemas and school teachers to discuss the situation. The girl and her mother were asked to appear before the meeting, where they explained that it was a mere error, caused by a resemblance between the two words. The two immediately apologised, adding that Faryal had no malicious intentions.
In a move that was apparently meant to pacify the religious elements clamouring for action against the teenage ‘blasphemer’, the POF administration expelled her from the school on Saturday. Faryal was not the only one who got in trouble for her spelling error, however, as her mother, Sarafeen Bhatti, who was a staff nurse at the POF Hospital Havelian for several years, was immediately transferred to POF Wah Cantonment Hospital.
Decision applauded
While talking to The Express Tribune, Maulana Alla Dita Khateeb of Gol Masjid praised the decision of the POF colony administration, claiming that he had personally seen the answer sheet in question. He further went on to say that he had met the girl himself, who had apologised for the word used in error.  Asked whether the incident still fell within the realm of blasphemy and whether Faryal deserved expulsion when she had misspelt the word unintentionally, Khateeb said that although he was unclear about the intentions of the girl, the word she had used was sacrilegious.
The managing director of POF Colony was not available for comment.

Minorities’ protection bill to be tabled in NA soon

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for National Harmony Akram Masih Gill on Thursday said a minorities’ protection bill would soon be tabled in the National Assembly to introduce Marriage Registration Act for Sikh, Hindu, Parsi and Bahai communities in the country.
He expressed these views while talking to Australian High Commissioner Tim George who called on him here to discuss national harmony and minorities’ issues in Pakistan. Fiona Hamilton, Second Secretary Political of Australian High Commission, was also present on the occasion.
The minister hailed the interest of the Australian government for the welfare of minorities in Pakistan and government policy towards national harmony, adding, that the “government of Pakistan is committed to the uplift of minorities socially by economic empowerment and removing discriminatory actions against non-Muslims”.
Mr Gill said interfaith harmony was the top priority of the government which wanted to promote friendly relations between the country’s Muslims and non-Muslims. He said interfaith harmony committees were being re-activated at district levels for the purpose.
He sought the help of the Australian government to provide clean drinking water to minority populated areas and to establish skill training centres in order to empower them economically.
The Australian ambassador said scholarships would also be ensured for students from religious minorities.


Minority rights: Aiming for the stars, bounded by a wall

ISLAMABAD: The Masihi Foundation School in France Colony is open for all but attended only by Christians. That is because France Colony, so-called because it is located in the area where the French Consulate used to be, is a walled-off parcel of land where some 600 Christians live segregated from the rest of Islamabad.
“People from outside the wall don’t want to come into the colony,” explains Xavier William, the country head for the Masihi Foundation. He compares the wall surrounding France Colony, which has only four entrances, to the Berlin Wall.
Worthy aims, limited access
Over 50 children sit in the classrooms of the school, which opened earlier this year and offers free education to anyone who wishes to enroll up to the primary level. The instruction is in English, making this a rare, English-medium school in a slum area and, as a student there says, they are given books, schoolbags and uniforms for free.
The Masihi Foundation, says William, is combating extremism by “bridging the gaps between communities and strengthening the marginalised communities by providing education, training and skills.”
Interestingly, the Masihi Foundation is also providing legal protection to Aasia Bibi, a Christian languishing in jail on blasphemy charges.  In France Colony, these worthy aims are stymied by the fact that only Christians are attending the school.
Squalid, congested
Ironically, France Colony is a squalid area, despite a majority of its residents working as cleaners for the Capital Development Authority. According to Yaqoob, a resident of the colony, the surrounding wall was built on the orders of influential Muslim residents in the area who didn’t want to have to pass through the area every day.
Each family lives in a tiny room, with as many as eight people packed into the constricted space. Despite living here for decades, residents have not been given ownership rights to the land by the government. There is also no provision for clean water and the sewerage system is overloaded.
Schooling options in France Colony are also severely limited. Nearby schools never give admission to the children from the colony and so they are forced to rely on charities, mostly those run by Christians. Rashida Bibi, a resident of the slum area, says that her daughter attends the Khatoon-e-Fatima School, a Catholic school run by nuns, and gets there courtesy a free bus service provided to France Colony children by NGO FemAid.
Meanwhile, the school set-up by the Masihi Foundation is the only functioning school in the colony. Unlike the other schools opened by the foundation in Quetta, where both Christians and non-Christians are enrolled, the France Colony school seems destined to be limited only to this minority.

Muslim Men Kidnap Pakistani Christian Girl to 'Purify Her'

Four Muslim abductors in Saleem Colony, within the jurisdictions of Shisharwali Police Station Satellite Town, Gujranwala City in the Punjab Province of Pakistan, allegedly kidnapped a Christian girl identified as Mehek (aged 14 years and 8 months), on Wednesday, August 17, 2011.
AsiaNews reports that the girl was taken by the main Muslim man so he could “purify her” to make her “Muslim and my mistress.”
ANS was apprised of this crime by Rashid Masih, a Christian laborer and father of six, including Mehek, who all live in a rented house.
According to our ANS investigation, the names of Rashid Masih’s family are: Mrs. Nasreen Bibi, his spouse, Masih’s abducted daughter Mehek, also daughter Soha, and sons Saul Masih and Usman Masih.
The abductors were said by eye-witnesses to be a young Muslim man, and his four accomplices who claimed they were armed with deadly weapons. They allegedly forced their way into the house of Rashid Masih brandishing their weapons in the air. The attack took place in broad daylight, and the assailants were said to have pointed a gun at the head of Mehek, and then forced her to climb aboard a white car.
ANS has learned that the alleged abductors were chased by the eye-witnesses, but the armed Muslim men threatened them telling them to desist otherwise they would kill them. They also were said to have used a derogatory word for female Christians.
On hearing the news, workers from the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), led by Khalid Gill, went to the local Police station, where, they said, police "reluctantly" registered the case against the perpetrators.
On the instructions of the Station House Officer, a sub-inspector was deputed to probe into the issue.
However, APMA sources said they were “concerned” that although the case was lodged, no efforts were apparently being made to "nail" the alleged Muslim culprits.
ANS was also told by locals that APMA head Dr. Paul Bhatti, has expressed his solidarity with the victim Christian family and pledged to extend all possible support and help towards them.
Interviewed by AsiaNews, the Archbishop Emeritus of Lahore and former president of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference Mgr. Lawrence John Saldanha stresses that such cases are “common in Pakistan,” and families “can do little or nothing” to save the victims from their captors. He adds: “The Muslim family has an advantage, because the law favors them.”
Rashid Masih, along with his family, had moved from Bawarey Village to Gujranwala city for the education and bright future of his Children, unaware that he would have to face such a fateful situation.

Blasphemy accused Aslam Masih dies in jail

A Christian man accused of blasphemy in Pakistan died of tropical fever in prison on Sept. 9, after the prison authorities refused him treatment, The Christian Post has learned Tuesday.

Aslam Masih died reportedly of the dengue virus, an infectious tropical disease.
Jonathan Racho, the Regional Manager for South Asia at the International Christian Concern (ICC), an advocacy group, told The Christian Post that a local human rights organization had appealed to the prison authorities to provide Masih with proper medical treatment, but the authorities refused, quoting security reasons.
“We’ve received the information last week, but we needed to confirm it with our local contact,” Racho told The Christian Post.
“If somebody’s in jail,” he commented on the incident. “The prison authorities have an obligation to provide that person with medical treatment. Otherwise it’s a violation of human rights. This was a preventable death.
The blasphemy law is one of the most controversial laws in Pakistan, according to Racho. It says that whoever offends Prophet Muhammad will face capital punishment.

 For offending the Quran, the punishment is a lifetime prison sentence.

Masih was reportedly arrested in 2010 after having been accused of blasphemy by two members of the Tablighi Jammat, an Islamic group.
“Once again, Pakistan has shown its contempt for the lives of its religious minorities,” Racho wrote in a press release. “We urge the international community to pressure Pakistan protect the rights of Christians and other vulnerable groups in the country.”
Racho told The Christian Post that people are held accountable to the blasphemy law regardless of their religion, including Muslims, but that it is most often used to persecute religious minorities.
The incident added to a row of deaths and arrests related to the persecution of Christians in Pakistan in the past years.
In March, a Pakistani Christian man sentenced to a lifetime in prison for blasphemy was found dead in prison. The authorities said he had died of natural causes.
The man, Qamar David, had been accused of blasphemy by his business partner.
One of the most famous cases of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan is the case of Asia Bibi, the first woman in that country to be sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy.
Bibi, still awaiting the solution of her case, had been accused of blasphemy by fellow field workers. A mother of five, she was sentenced to death by hanging for allegedly speaking ill of Prophet Muhammad. She denied the charges.
Ninety-five percent of Pakistan’s population is Muslim, with 75 percent Sunni and 20 percent Shia. Only five percent practice Christianity and Hinduism, according to the CIA fact book.

Man survives throat slit, reveals identity

Lahore - A young man, who was found with his throat slit open and hands tied at the Qartaba Chowk last week, miraculously survived after an operation at Services Hospital on Sunday, and revealed his identity to Pakistan Today as Joseph Younis, approximately 25 years old.
Unidentified men had tortured and left Joseph in the bushes on the green belt located on a junction where Ferozepur Road meets Jail Road. Joseph had been left to bleed to death with his throat slit open and hands tied. The police have not yet reached a breakthrough as the victim can not speak since his windpipe had been slit.
In an exclusive meeting with Pakistan Today, the victim revealed his name after the doctor gave him a pen and a paper. The man wrote in English. In vague handwriting, he wrote that his name was Joseph Younis. The doctor then asked where he resided, to which he wrote 375 R Block Model Town.
When the doctor inquired about the incident, he wrote a vague note out of which only two words are readable: “Sunny Earnest”.
“It’s nothing less than a miracle,” said a doctor on duty in the surgical ICU. Doctors claimed that three-fifth of his neck, which includes the trachea (windpipe, which was cut completely) and some part of oesophagus (food pipe), was sliced by the criminals. But after an extensive surgery at Services Hospital on Saturday night, the man was declared out-of-danger but was shifted to the Surgical ICU, while maintaining a strong surveillance.
“He can’t speak because of the depth of the cut, and due to the nature of the injury, we are advised to keep a close eye on him,” said the doctor. He said that his condition could flip back in danger without any warning. The doctors said that it could take several weeks before the man could start talking again as the cut was almost 1 inch deep. He said that the victim was still critically injured and would remain under surveillance until he was completely out of any threat.
HISTORY: At around 8:20pm a call was received by the police from the Rescue 1122 staff. They informed the police that a man was found with his hands and feet tied together and his neck sliced open. “He was lying in his own blood,” said Sardar Jamil, the investigating officer of the case from the Lyton Road Police Station. He said that the Rescue 1122 staff, after completing procedural steps, rushed the man to the hospital where the doctors after hard work finally declared him out-of-danger.
Sardar Jamil, the investigation officer, while talking to Pakistan Today, said that the man was still unidentified; neither any credentials were found from his pocket nor anyone came to ask about him. While answering a question, the IO said that the claimant of the FIR was Sub Inspector Khurshid Alam from the Lyton Road Police Station.

800 Christians left homeless

Lahore-  800+ Christians from 104 families living in the Ittehad Colony slum along the Rohi Nullah have nowhere to go after the Nishtar Town administration demolished their homes two weeks ago to make way for an alternate road to the new fruit and vegetable market.
The slum area situated beside Ferozepur Road, was  given only a day’s notice to vacate their homes. 

“We were in the process of dragging out our belongings when the bulldozers arrived…the authorities did not even give us time to pack our stuff properly and started demolishing our homes,” a resident said. However, army bunkers and a church located in the area were not demolished after the residents said they would not tolerate desecration of their church. 
“We let them destroy our homes but they will have to demolished
We let them destroy our homes but they will have to demolish the church over our dead bodies,” Rani, a resident, told Pakistan Today. “We built the church with our own hands over the last seven years. It is the pride and centre of our community,” she added. As the bulldozers tore down houses and moved towards the church, some women gathered in front of the building while others took shelter inside, weeping and chanting slogans. Their protest forced the authorities to postpone the demolition of the church, at least for now. 
Police officials present on the scene said
they had been instructed to protect the church and assured that it would not be demolished. Residents said Ittehad Colony was settled when residents shifted from Sabzazar 13 years ago when the same families were rendered helpless in another anti-encroachment operation ordered by the Sharif brothers. Another resident, Hakim Naseer said, “They should have stopped us from settling here in the first place or relocated us, but they did no such thing and we are undergoing the same process again.”
After the operation, residents sat on their salvaged possessions with tears in their eyes. Sitting on a small stool, a young girl, Fauzia said, “We are Pakistani, and are loyal to it, but if they don’t want us here they should just throw us out of the country.” Residents expressed their helplessness as they slept without cover last night, and look forward to these nights continuing since most cannot afford rents. Hakim said, “If we had been given a month or two’s notice and been allotted an alternate location, we would have been able to make alternative arrangements.” 

Ittehad Colony President Salamat Pardesi said, “A meeting with the AC was scheduled on Friday but we were later told he was out of city. We asked for time but an official came to the colony the same day and told us our houses would be destroyed at 8am on Saturday.” He said, “We had no forewarning and would have asked for more time and an alternate location. We were already relocated from Sabzarar under similar pretexts.” Kahna Police Sub-Inspector Saeed said they had been officially assigned to provide security to the bulldozers and TMO staff.
He claimed that the residents had been warned to vacate the area a few weeks ago. Residents, however, deny that they had been issued any official notice other than the one-day warning. “They are lying…if we had received the notice a week ago we would have surely made alternate arrangements,” Pardesi said. Usman Liaqat, revenue officer of Nishtar Town, said he was not aware of the status of the residents, adding that he had only carried out the instructions of the Model Town AC.
Model Town Assistant Commissioner Irfan Memon said the operation was conducted to clear the Rohi Nullah of illegal settlements to construct a road from Ferozepur Road to Defence Road to aid traffic to the relocated fruit and sabzi mandi at Katcha Kahna. He said the residents had been informed at least three times last month to relocate but they had not heeded the warning. He said the settlement had no legal status and was situated on irrigation land. He also claimed that 30-40 houses were destroyed by the residents themselves.
He said that there was no resettlement plan for the residents since it was an illegal settlement, however, he said residents had been asked to file an application for the consideration of the authorities’ concerned. He said further that the Christians had also agreed to demolish the church themselves.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

APCL launched in Islamabad

A new political party has been launched by  Professor Salamat Khokhar and Denmark based lawyer Nawaz Salamat.
Professor Salamat is a well known and respected individual of the Christian community in Pakistan and is the founding chairperson of the All Pakistan Christian League (APCL) whereas Nawaz Salamat has been appointed as the Co-chairman of the party meant to be the only Christian political party.
Professor Akhtar said “APCL will be the first representative party in Pakistan purely for Christians since 1972”. 

The party's manifesto is based on Quaid-e-Azam's vision of equality for all citizens of Pakistan.

The party’s agenda is ensuring unity and well-being of the Christian community, education for all, repeal discriminatory laws, integrity and well being of Christian women, youth, farmers and labourers. The party will also strive for democracy and right of double vote for non-Muslims, shelter to homeless Christians, accurate census of Christians community and one-fourth share in federal as well as provincial services.

The website of APCL is underway to interact with the party and will welcome suggestions for better functioning of the party. The party hopes to complete legal formalities soon.

Nazim Sajjad has been nominated as president of APCL Islamabad chapter, 
Zeeshan Joseph as president of Punjab chapter, 
James Allah Ditta, president Rawalpindi chapter, 
Hubert George, president for US chapter,  
Chaudhry Yousuf Akhtar, president for Germany chapter.

The flag of the newly formed party is described as:The importance of our flag.

The bright star in the white portion of the flag represents Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior Who is the bright star of the line of David a Great Prophet and King.The scientists are of the view the Crescent has no light at all therefore it is the light of our star that generates Prosperity in Pakistan. The white part signifies peace and Justice. It also stands for Minorities.
 A very important message of the white part of our flag is Equality. It means that we are equal citizens of our motherland and nobody is superior to us in Pakistan.

The idea of Pakistan was depending on Equality but a very sad fact is that we are never treated as equal citizen therefore we will continue our struggle for equal rights in Pakistan.

Nawaz Salamat has been networking aggressively on Facebook to interact and connect to Pakistani Christians around the globe receiving praises and many times criticism, however unable to conquer his enthusiasm and spirit to move forward and lay the foundation stone for a new beginning.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Clerics refuse to remove 'Jihad verses' from school curriculum

A group of clerics attacked a government school breaking windows and later protested against the suggested removal of Quranic verses pertaining to jihad from the school curriculum, resulting in two students injuried after glass fell on them according to a school administrator, 
16 clerics in Rahim Yar Khan protested on Monday afternoon against the proposed removal of the verses.
“If the Education Board thinks that it can educate our children by denying them proper knowledge of all aspects of the Quran they are mistaken,” said Mufti Allahbukhsh Khan. 

“This is outrageous. 
How can they protest by attacking a school? What do primary school children have to do with the Education Board’s decision to change the syllabus?” said Government Primary School for Girl’s, Chak 16-SG administrator Nazish Waqar.
The clerics warned that if any verses were removed from the curriculum then all religious and political parties would launch a joint campaign against the government.

“The government is conspiring against jihad. We will not allow this,” said a statement from  Sunni Ittehad Council leaders Sahibzada Fazle Karim, Haji Hanif Tayyab, Pir Muhammad Afzal Qadri, Sarwat Ijaz Qadri, Pir Syed Mahfooz Mashhadi, Pir Syed Safdar Shah Gilani and others.

“The government is trying to appease its foreign masters. Former president Gen (retired) Pervez Musharraf also tried to exclude jihadi verses from the curriculum, but we did not let it happen.”
Jamatud Dawa leaders including Professor Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki, Maulana Ameer Hamza, Hafiz Talha Saeed, Hafiz Abdul Ghafar Ropri and Hafiz Khalid Waleed said that the government was trying to convert Pakistan into a secular state.Madaris Rabta Committee president and Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) district president Qazi Kahlilur Rehman said that they would resist any move to turn the country into a secular state.

Will Pakistan progress or will they drag us into the stone age ?

Is it so important to force hatred into innocent minds ?

Blasphemy accused in Karachi seeks security

The Blasphemy law has been twisted and misused again in a case in Karachi by a religious group.
This time the victim is Noel Gulzar, a Christian youth who said that some religious extremists have threatened to kill him over a fabricated blasphemy allegation. He demanded the government to provide him protection.

While talking to journalists at the Sindh High Court’s cafeteria Noel informed further saying a few months ago he got a shop at Meccasa Shopping Centre, near Essa Nagri on rent to start his own business of ‘books and stationery’. One day while cleaning his shop's exterior he noticed near the garbage some papers burnt outside the shop.

On the same day some unidentified people came to his shop and they alleged that ‘he has committed blasphemy because of garbage burning, as it was the Holy Quran and some pages of the Hadith’.

Noel escaped from the scene and tried to approach the PIB Colony police station to register a complaint of the incident but unfortunately as he reached the the police station the group accusing him was present there, he said.

Noel said that later he sent a complaint to the SHO PIB Colony through courier service. He also demanded of the Sindh governor, Chief minister, inspector general of police and CCPO Karachi to provide him protection.

MPA Saleem Khursheed Khokhar, while talking to Daily Times on the issue, said that Gulzar had come to him. He said: “It is the badness of our society that some opportunists are using the religion for their wasted interests and a common man is facing trouble.”

Another case of business rivalry ? We hope someone from Karachi can update us further.

Source: Daily Times

Sunday, 3 July 2011

False FIR in Christian Hospital Taxila

The Christian Hospital in Taxila recently avoided communal clash motivated by a person named Nur Mohammad with his sons Malik Riaz and Malik Abdul Razzak by registering fabricated cases among some hospital staff and having many Christian staff arrested also.

Leaders of the Christian community intervened and proved that the FIR was false, a blasphemy case was also planned but not egistered and did not go further. It is being reported that Pakistan's agencies acted swiftly and controlled the situation.

The motive is said to be land mafia who along with a contractor had been after this property for quite some time.

At present the Hospital is closed for security reasons.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Congregation bids farewell to retired Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore

A thanksgiving mass was held for retired Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore which was attended by hundreds of Catholic clergy and laypeople; and all the diocese’s 58 priests at Lahore’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Archbishop Saldanha retired on April 7 this year, after heading Lahore archdiocese for almost 10 years. The speakers at the mass paid tribute to the retired prelate who “strongly supported inter-religious harmony and dialogue during a decade of the ‘war on terror’.” They recalled major instances of Christian persecution, all in Punjab province, under his tenure of office, including the assassination of Catholic federal minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti on March 2, this year.

Born: Lawrence John Saldanha in Mangalore, India on 12 Jun 1936.
Religious training: Christ the King seminary in Karachi and was ordained a priest in Lahore, Pakistan on 16 Jan 1960.
He also earned a doctorate in systematic theology from Rome-based Pontifical Urbaniana University. He participated in the Second Vatican Council.

- He served in different parishes in Lahore and was secretary of Caritas Pakistan 1966-73.
- He served 1971-74 as editor of the Catholic Naqib, the Archdiocese’s Urdu bimonthly.
- He was also rector of Christ the King Seminary in Karachi from 1974–1979 and taught dogmatic theology there until 1983.

- From 1986-98 he was head of the social communications commission and WAVE Studio, the Church's national audiovisual center in Lahore.
- He also headed the UCA News bureau in Pakistan.
- President of the Federation of Asian Bishop’s Conference
- Chairmanship of Radio Veritas.

- He was serving as associate pastor of Precious Blood Church in Toronto, Canada, when he was recalled to serve the Church in Pakistan.
- On 24 Apr 2001 he was appointed Archbishop of Lahore by Pope John Paul II.
- He is the Leader of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan.

- On 16 January 2010, Archbishop Saldanha celebrated his Golden Jubilee as a priest, of serving his church for 50 years.

- On 7 April 2011 Archbishop Saldanha retired as Archbishop of Lahore

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Hector Aleem & two others freed from blasphemy case

According to a report by The Express Tribune, 3 Christians were acquitted in a blasphemy case last Thursday and this news has been confirmed by Hector's blog which is managed by his daughter Mehvish.
A Rawalpindi court acquitted three members of the Christian community as the prosecutor failed to prove the case against them. An Additional District and Sessions Judge Sarfraz Akhtar absolved Hector Haleem, Basharat Maseeh and Robin Maseeh from the charges of sending blasphemous text messages.

 A Ghufran Sialvi had registered the case against him last year.
The court also ordered criminal action against the investigation officer and the complainant after they could not prove the charges against the accused.
Aleem's daughter Mehvish posted online petitions and posts asking for support of her father's release. The 55 years old Aleem heads an NGO called Peace WorldwidePeace award by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Yousaf Raza Gillani 
Details of his accusation are posted here, an account of the incident by his daughter.

Below is a Urdu newspapers article taken from Aleem's blog that is translated by Mewish.

Here is the TRANSLATION:

"Additional District and Session Judge Mr. Sarfaraz Akhter took a strict notice on those who lodged a false blasphemy case. He ordered the CPO Rawalpinidi to investigate about the case and also ordered to take a strict action against those who gave false testimonies i.e. Sub - Inspector Zafar Iqbal, Mir Abdullah, Riaz, Constable Muhammad Asif, Muhammad Akram, and the complainant Tahir Iqbal Chisti. He ordered to take severe action on them and also ordered strictly to the Secretary Prosecution Punjab to take action on District Public Prosecution who passed the Challan of this false and poor investigation case. The lawyer of the accused Hector Aleem and others Mr. Ghufran Khurshid Imtiazi provided the Court Orders to the CPO to take action. A case of Disrespecting the accused will also be lodged. Court dropped the Charges on three of the Accused."

Now here its written that a case of disrespecting the accused will be lodged against the complainants but we wont do it.......because we want to get rid of this court procedure as soon as possible and we wont be going to any court to lodge any case on anyone.