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Monthly Archives: September 2010

Burned alive……


I have no words to express my shock, grief and guilt. A Christian man, Arshed Masih, was burned alive in front of policemen by Muslims and his wife was raped by a policeman too in Rawalpindi. Apparently, some religious leaders persuaded Masih to convert to Islam and later Sheik Mohammad Sultan, owner of the house he used to live in, filed a robbery case.  It happened in March, but the story did not come on surface till 23 of September.

It is a lethal and horrible trend to follow your wish and faith blindly. With force or “Jabar”, the possibility of any achievement falls down to zero, but here a “NO” becomes a matter of ego. The whole world cannot just convert to Islam only because of some Muslims want to see this happening and those who set such ugly examples for the world to review should now be disappointed.

I was always convinced that our law enforcing agencies have lost the vision to see the difference between an innocent and a criminal. But even a criminal has a right to seek help and he should be punished according to the law. No law of any state allows burning of people alive. Above all, his wife was raped as she was a public property being a Christian.

Above all, no action was taken against those policemen or Sheik Mohammad Sultan and even the news could not reach us. This is simply criminal and barbaric. It looks as we have lost faith in humanity and the social set up; and prefer to take law in our hands. Islam is not supposed to be the sole religion when other religions exist on this planet. Harmony and co-existence is something we need to accept as soon as possible.

Below is the story:
Travesty of justice does not fit the description of the events. This is simple barbarism.

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a Christian man, Arshed Masih, died yesterday after Muslims burned him alive for refusing to recant his faith. Additionally, a Muslim policeman raped Masih’s wife.

Masih and his wife, Martha, worked and lived at the house of Sheik Mohammad Sultan, a powerful Muslim businessman in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, since 2005.
In January, Muslim religious leaders and Sheik Sultan asked Masih and his family to convert to Islam. Masih and his family refused to convert and informed Sheik Sultan that they were going to quit working for him. The Sheik became furious and warned Masih that he would kill him if he quit. Masih told his family and friends about the entire incident. Christian leaders tried to persuade the Sheik to let Masih and his family leave his house.

On March 14, Sheik Sultan`s house was robbed. He filed a case of theft of 500,000 Rupees ($ 5,952) against Martha. After taking them for questioning, the police assaulted Masih and raped Martha. Two days later, Sheik Sultan told the couple that he would ask the police to release them if they converted to Islam. The couple refused to recant their faith.

On March 19, Masih was set on fire in front of the police station. At the time, three Muslim religious leaders and three policemen were present at the scene. The perpetrators have not been identified.

Masih was taken to the Holy Family Hospital where he received treatment for three days before finally dying.

Note: This story originates from March 23, 2010…We have just been made aware of it.
Where is the outrage? Where is the U.N. when atrocities happen to Christians?

Where is the media? Had this been an Muslim, this would have been broadcast world wide instantly….with people marching in the streets…Get the picture?

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2010 in Christians

 

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Attacking Church: Let’s not empower intolerance


The attack on a Pentecostal Church in Karachi by some extremist Muslims came as a shock to many of us and that too when the even of “Burning Quran Day” was canceled. A group looted the Church, burnt nine Bibles, three hymn books and three wooden crosses along with furniture in Shah Latif Town, which is home to about 120 Christian families. The pretext of “Quran Burning Day”, as it looks, still being used to target Christians but here we seldom look for excuses when it comes on persecution of minorities. During all this time while fighting for the sanctity of our religious book-Quran- what we forgot was to give the same amount of respect to other religious books.

I mentioned earlier too that the events like “Quran Burning Day” can be a world reaction to what we do to people of their religions. Almost the whole USA including President Obama outrageously condemned such intolerant acts which pose threat to world peace and religious harmony. And despite the fact that all this happened in our support, we attacked a church and burnt their holy book.

With every passing day, we are becoming more intolerant as a nation. But on other side, I can still see some hope when I meet and talk to so many people whoo believe in co- existence of all religions. Those who are not poisoned with one-religion obsession. Let’s not empower intolerance. Let’s build a country which embrace everyone irrespective of race, religion and nationality. With this approach we will soon be able to defeat those extremist forces who loathe the idea of peace and stability in this country.

Below is the story:

“There are no imminent threats, but there is still fear evident among the Christian community. In Pakistan, we Christians are in a precarious condition: we do not know what may happen in the next five minutes,” according to Fr. Diego Saleh, President of the “Justice and Peace Commission” of the Catholic Diocese of Karachi, following the news of an attack, which occurred on the evening of September 18, at a Pentecostal Christian church in the District of Shah Latif Town, in Karachi.

The church was attacked and looted by a group of Islamic extremists who burned furniture and Bibles. According to local sources, the attack is linked to the “Koran Burning Day,” which has not yet sounded its last echo and is still being used by some extremist Muslim leaders to fuel anti-Christian hatred.

Fr. Saleh Diego added: “We condemn the attack, asking for the protection of the Government and, as the Christian community in Pakistan, the opportunity to live peacefully and freely in our country. We demand respect for all holy places and holy books of any religion.”

The priest, who is also Chancellor of the Diocese of Karachi, reported “I just spoke with the Archbishop Evarist Pinto, who expressed his concern: we want to avoid, as has happened in the past months, violence against Christian places or districts that could spread to other parts of the city. “

Of course, observes Fr. Diego, we cannot neglect the “reckless actions” of some Protestant Christian denominations, which have a highly intolerant attitude towards Muslims. The church that was attacked was opened two or three years ago in the middle of a Muslim neighborhood. It had no Pastor and very few Christians attended it. It was an easy target for extremists,” he says.

In this situation, the Catholic Church in Karachi has been active in dialogue with other religious communities and other institutions, to defuse tensions. “We are establishing, as citizens, a special ‘Committee for Peace’ which will bring together Christian leaders from different denominations, and involve Muslim leaders and civil leaders. We continue to work for social and religious harmony, a valuable asset to be protected in our city.”

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2010 in Christians

 

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18 years on, have we learnt the lessons of Ayodhya?


The Times of India: Najeeb Jung, Sep 19, 2010

The Babri Masjid was demolished on December 6, 1992. The act triggered weeks of communal riots and a decade of distrust between Hindus and Muslims, culminating in carnage in Gujarat in 2002. Now, the ghost of the Babri Masjid has been stirring again.

It has taken 60 years for the case to reach a conclusion. That has meant 60 years of Hindu and Muslim unease. The anxiety stems from lack of confidence in the government’s ability to ensure rule of law will prevail. To most right-thinking people the conclusion should be clear. The process of law has been followed and the doors of further legal recourse remain open to the losing party. The bogey of faith or politics have no relevance. But, too often have people got away with breaking the law. Too often have governments been cowed into inaction by powerful groups. This is why it is important that after such a long wait, India is able to accept this judgment with impartiality and equanimity minus the clichés of faith, bullying by numbers and political calculations. The message from the Union government must be unequivocal — the law will be upheld at any cost.

Nineteen years ago, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao fell into the classic trap of doing little else but initiating a backroom dialogue with various parties. Corrupt and inefficient interlocutors often misled him. Rao later said he was misled by the UP government, which claimed it was prepared for every eventuality even as the VHP and others mobilized large numbers of people. The government ignored the cardinal principle of law and order maintenance. Security forces cannot act against thousands of their own people. The numbers allowed to gather in Ayodhya were so large that the police became passive onlookers, and in the midst of passionate speeches and slogan-shouting, frenzied mobs brought down the 16th century structure. Rao’s belief that “no action is also an action” blew up in his face and the nation gasped as large parts of India were sucked into communal riots.

Once again, the governments of India and UP are on the alert. The chief minster has deployed a significant number of forces and asked for more from the Centre. The Union cabinet has met to discuss the possible reaction and the steps to be taken. As for the protagonists, mercifully the Babri Masjid Action Committee, the Muslim Personal Law Board and sundry other Muslim outfits have said they will abide by the verdict. The RSS has also changed its earlier position that this was a matter of faith and bhakti and therefore beyond the jurisdiction of man made courts. It now says that it will allow the sants to lead from the front, irrespective of the verdict, and with the help of legislation if necessary. The VHP’s threatened national agitation has failed to take off to date. By and large there is restraint on all sides.

Clearly, the Union government has to take the initiative to ensure that no one takes the law into their hands. This will require measures that either Rao did not have the courage to choose or chose not to take. One, the UP government must be supported with the maximum possible police and paramilitary power that the Centre can manage. Two, the Union Government must immediately initiate dialogue with everyone involved, making it clear that the doors of legal recourse remain open and no one, simply no one, will be allowed to take the law in their hands. Three, it must be ensured that known undesirable elements in UP and trouble-prone districts in other states are rounded up under preventive sections of the Criminal Procedure Code well before the judgement. Four, it should be made clear to district magistrates and police superintendents that they will be directly responsible for communal incidents in their districts.

The message must be clear — we have suffered enough at the hands of irrational radicals of different faiths. The message to seminaries and temples, to religious leaders of all hues and shades, and to the public at large must be straightforward — we will not allow India to go the way of Pakistan and Iran where religion is scorching the entrails of civil society.

The writer, a former civil servant, is vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2010 in Religion/Indo Pak

 

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Two boys kidnapped within a week, Hindus protest


Express Tribune, 17 Sep

LARKANA: After two boys were kidnapped in two separate incidents within one week in Kashmore, parents have started fearing for the safety of their children who have become an easy target for abductors.

The more recent of the two incidents was the abduction of three-year-old Mahar Pathan, who went missing on September 14 while he was playing with other children near a school in the area.

As news of the incident spread, shops were closed as residents of the area took to the streets in protest.

Meanwhile, six-year-old Dheeraj Kumar’s family has been praying for his safe return since the day he was kidnapped from Kandhkot. Dheeraj went missing on Saturday, September 11, after which his kidnappers called his father, Tashpal Das, for ransom.

“I am a primary school teacher so how can I afford to pay Rs1 million?” the frantic father told The Express Tribune, adding that his wife has been unconscious since the incident took place.

Talking to The Express Tribune, social activist Akbar Pathan said that kidnappers have taken to a new trend – that of kidnapping children, especially boys, for ransom.

“The role of the police seems bleak,” said Pathan, who claimed that the kidnappers were in fact being facilitated by the police as the latter encouraged the payment of ransom.

DPO Kashmore Abdul Salam Shaikh said these allegations were “baseless”, claiming that the police have successfully freed many kidnapped people without having to resort to paying ransom.

In Dheeraj’s case, the police tried to find the kidnappers but they had taken the boy to the Balochistan border, said Shaikh. “We know who is involved in Dheeraj’s kidnapping and hopefully the boy will be found very soon,” he added.

However, people belonging to the Hindu community, along with other residents of Kandhkot, took to the streets in protest when they heard the news of Dheeraj’s kidnapping.

They alleged that despite assurances of finding the six-year-old in two days, the police had been unable to trace the kidnappers.

“The police and other law-enforcement agencies have failed to protect minorities in Pakistan.  Three children from our community have been kidnapped in the last two months. We have paid ransom for the freedom of one child, while two are still being held hostage,” said Pakistan Hindu Council vice-president Mahesh Kumar.

Hindus who were earlier settled in Jacobabad, Kashmore and Kandhkot have now been forced to move to Karachi, said Kumar, who claimed that many flood survivors had taken to robbing the houses that belonged to Hindus.

MPA Pitambar Sewani, who belongs to the Pakistan Peoples Party and represents the minorities, said that he will raise the issue at the assembly.

“We are the sons of this soil, but such incidents have created fear among the people of our community,” said Sewani. “We have asked the administration of various districts to provide protection to the minorities, but our requests have been ignored,” he added.

DIG Larkana Din Mohammed Baloch said that the issue of kidnapping was very serious, adding that the law enforcers are trying to evolve a strategy on how to prevent such incidents from taking place in the future.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2010 in Hindus

 

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Is Babri still relevant? The jury’s out


Vinod Sharma, Hindustan Times

On the cold wintry evening of December 6, 1992, I was working on a routine story at Islamabad’s international telex office. The computer age hadn’t fully arrived in the sub-continent. Punched telex tapes were the best way resident foreign journalists could reach messages back home.

A telephone on the adjoining table came alive with an incoming call. On the line was The Hindu’s Kesava Menon, sounding outraged, unable to say his piece in one go: “Pandit, they’ve done it, they have done the worst.” I couldn’t immediately fathom the alarm. “What’s it?” I stammered. “They’ve brought down the mosque. They’ve razed it to the ground,” he said.

Beads of sweat dripped down my forehead as Kesava hastily hung up. No, I wasn’t scared. I was shattered. My faith shaken in the system, the secular ethos I’d tout to silence Pakistanis prophesying the Babri’s fall at the hands of Hindu zealots.

What was it, I self-questioned, a Hindu-Muslim conflagration or a secular, non-secular divide? The latter argument served better to keep one’s head up in a grossly indefensible scenario. I propounded the theory a day later to the Jamaat-e-Islami’s Liaquat Baloch outside the Indian High Commission, where he stood with a clutch of supporters to submit a protest memorandum.

“Yeh kya karva diya, Sharma,” accosted Baloch on seeing me get off a cab. “I’ve no moral defence for what has happened,” I said. “But it isn’t a Hindu-Muslim issue. It’s a fight for secular and non-secular India in which secularists will emerge triumphant.”

Secularism is a four-letter word for the rabidly right-wing Jamaat. “What rubbish – kya bakwas baat kar rahe ho,” intoned Baloch. “Look at my country and you’d know that leaders who enjoy the trust of Muslims are all Hindus,” I countered, reeling off names ranging from V.P. Singh to Chandrashekhar and Lalu and Mulayam Yadav.

As an Indian journalist, I was part of a minuscule Hindu minority in Pakistan. That helped me understand the value of these leaders, some of whom I’d criticise for their OBC politics that exposed my upper caste moorings to the ire of Mandal-ites and my secular beliefs to the Brahminical BJP’s disdain. I’d often joke that the sangh parivar treated a non-supportive Brahmin the way the Muslim League treated Maulana Azad!

The Ayodhya outrage also brought home the tyranny of numbers that’s minority-ism; the moral high ground our non-denominational secular state could’ve lost to an Islamic Republic with territorial claim on the Muslim-majority Kashmir. But for the retaliatory destruction of scores of functioning and dormant temples in a government-sponsored strike across Pakistan, our country’s name would have been in the mud internationally. The dubious parity kept Islamabad from mobilising the Muslim world to isolate or ex-communicate India.

Replay of 1990s
In 2002, former foreign secretary J.N. Dixit categorised incidents such as the Babri demolition and Gujarat riots as “significant internal threats” to India’s security and territorial integrity. Who could have known it better than him? He led India’s foreign policy while Ayodhya happened and Kashmir was in flames in the early 1990s.

I witnessed Dixit’s discomfiture on being buttonholed by a Pakistani journalist in Islamabad in January 1994 on his earlier comment that India wouldn’t survive if anything were to happen to the mosque. The veteran diplomat took time lighting his pipe before responding. He said the eventuality he apprehended was averted by the “resilience of our people”.

The wheel has since come a full circle. Kashmir’s again in ferment and the Allahabad High Court’s Lucknow Bench ready with its judgment on Ayodhya title suits. “No matter which way the verdict goes, some people will be upset. We’ve seen mobilisation already by various groups,” said a top security official.

He wondered whether it would help talking to parties inclined to use the verdict’s residuum to expand their electoral base. The answer came from Brajesh Mishra, national security advisor to the BJP-led NDA regime. He placed the onus on all sections – the Government, the Opposition, the RSS and the Muslim leadership – to ensure there was no violence, regardless of the verdict against which anybody could appeal in the apex court. “We have a very serious situation in Kashmir and Maoist-affected areas. Vitiating the atmosphere further on another volatile issue will gravely compromise India’s security,” he cautioned

Identity versus aspiration
Is the dispute over a medieval mosque relevant to today’s India that’s sizably youthful and driven more by aspiration than mere identity? Several BJP insiders admit 2010 isn’t 1992. The party retained power in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and to some extent Gujarat, on the development plank, not the slogan of destroying a mosque or building a temple.

Manmohan Singh’s sweat equity in the UPA’s 2009 victory stemmed from his image as the economy’s best available saviour. Rahul’s youthful promise and the mother’s kitchen Sonia Gandhi promoted through the NREGS fetched the Congress-led alliance its winning formula. In comparison, the BJP looked a dowdy minstrel blaring beaten, old bhajans.

Having slipped in popular esteem with the turn of the century, the saffron family evidently considers Kashmir more potent than its other core issues: Ayodhya and the Common Civil Code. L.K. Advani has talked of restraint and Mohan Bhagwat of “the law and the Constitution” in the event of the verdict going against their expectations.

Difficult to say whether the leopard has changed spots. The answer perhaps is in the compulsions of coalition politics. If Bihar’s out of bounds for Narendra Modi, kar sewaks can’t be breaking barricades elsewhere.

The poll records of the past two decades have set the limits of sectarian politics. Even Lord Rama couldn’t help the BJP ever touch the 200 mark. Its best score: 182/339 when the Congress toppled Vajpayee but failed to give an alternative in 1999.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2010 in Religion/Indo Pak

 

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Mosque near ground zero, but no faith to be allowed in Pakistan


It looks as Pakistan has reached to that point where the country is shrinking its space for non-Muslims or those with a different notion of religion. We as a nation have allowed ourselves to set double standards and enjoy the invisible pride and dominnance which we feel being Muslims. On one hand we insist on having a Mosque near ground zero and on other hand we beat Christians for preaching their beliefs. Is this a fair game?

In this country, we have made lives of non-Muslims not less than a hell and every step we take leads to their further intimidation and persecution. This country is for everyone and people cannot be victimized for saying what they believe in. Looking at the fact that Christianity should be the most acceptable religion for Muslims, the whole persecution seems baseless. Muslims cherish the thought of seeing their Mosques in every nook and corner and Muslims ruling the world, but they loathe the idea of co existing with people of other religions in their own countries.

It is the generosity and extreme of tolerance of Christian/other countries that they let Islam and Muslims to exist in their countries openly and the same attitude is expected from Muslims for non-Muslims in their countries too. But it is happening otherwise. I request Pakistanis to exercise tolerance and make this country available for people from all religions. The strength of Islam lies in its existence with other religions and giving people a choice to embrace it. But through such torturous behaviour, we have made Islam fragile  and conveyed to the world that Islam is threatened by other religions. The time has come that we start watching what signals we send to the world as a nation.

Below is the story:

PUNJAB: Five young men severely assaulted a pastor in Punjab, Pakistan for preaching, a Christian human rights group said. According to International Christian Concern (ICC), Emmanuel Beshir, pastor of Holy City Pentecostal Church, was returning from preaching in Bahmani Wala village at 9 PM when five young men stopped him.

They asked, “Why do you preach that Jesus Christ is Lord and nobody can get salvation without Jesus Christ?” The pastor replied, “We will never stop preaching about the Lord Jesus Christ, and we will tell about him to all the nations.”

Then the men assaulted him with wooden rods, breaking his right hand and multiple ribs. Pastor Beshir is receiving medical treatment at Farooq Hospital in Lahore city, according to ICC.
Christians have been targeted before in Bahamani Wala village. On June 30, 2009, more than 600 Muslims attacked Christians in the village after falsely accusing them of blasphemy. The attackers destroyed the Christian homes and looted their property.

“We are deeply concerned by the attack against Pastor Beshir. The right to freedom of religion, including the right to share one’s faith, is an internationally recognized principle of human rights,” said Jonathan Racho, ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia. “Unfortunately Christian minorities face attacks and even death when sharing their faith in Islamic countries. We urge Pakistan to protect Christian minorities from such attacks.”

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2010 in Christians

 

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Some Christians denied aid unless they convert to Islam


I need to ask one question to all the Muslims including those who are living here in Pakistan. Do you ask a hungry person before offering him food that is he a Muslim or not? And in case if he turns out to be a non Muslim, do you refuse to feed him? Please do not bother to give me this answer rather tell this to yourself. Self accountability often leads to realisation and then it helps in repairing the damage your actions have done. The story below is not new to us, in fact, since floods hit Pakistan such stories have started emerging.

What is the greatest sin our minorities have committed which has rewarded them with this discriminated and miserable life in this country, I have failed to understand. A Christian is as affected by the flood and deserves same amount of attention, help and food as a Muslim does. What we do not understand here that sufferings and disasters have a strange potential to remove the differences boundaries, cultures and religions create. In such situations, the status could just be one–a human being who is either an affectee or a victim, nothing else.

God knows which religion we keep on referring when it comes on giving aid to Christians with the money of Zakat. It looks to me a perfect excuse to justify bias and prejudice. If any Muslim has hesititation in spending Zakat money on Christians then one could always spend the money which is not Zakat. When there is a will there is a way.

We must realise that it is hard to hide such violations in this information age and the world is taking note of every gesture you convey as a nation. Nothing you can do in isolation anymore and every actions bears some consequences.

Below is the Story:

The head of an organization that combats anti-Christian persecution charges that some Pakistani Christian families are being denied flood aid unless they convert to Islam.

“Some Christian refugees are openly denied aid, while others are told to leave or convert to Islam,” said Carl Moeller, president and CEO of Open Doors USA. “You can imagine that terrible choice: either you abandon your faith or you cannot feed your child.”

The Fides news agency has collected testimony from several Christians who have been denied aid:

  • “We were overcome by waters and we lost everything,” said Zubair Masih. “We went to a refugee camp near Thatta, but they did not allow us to enter because we are Christians.”
  • “My wife is sick, but the doctor refused to visit her and treat her, saying that we should wait for the World Health Organization to send Christian doctors,” said Abid Masih.
  • “I arrived with my family at a camp near Hyderabad, but the camp administration refused to register us because we are Christians and they did not give us anything,” said Aamir Gill. “We were forced to leave.”
  • A Pakistani bishop said that the Church, in contrast, does not discriminate in assisting the victims of the worst flooding in the nation’s history.

    “The tireless work of Caritas continues in all directions, in every diocese and without discrimination on the recipients,” said Bishop Max John Rodrigues of Hyderabad. “In the diocese, we help everyone. Many religious and Catholic volunteers are working in the area. I see a lot of solidarity: Muslims, Christians, and Hindus are united in suffering.

    “As far as the aid brought by Islamic charity groups, they defend themselves by saying that according to their doctrine, the money from the zakhat (Islamic alms) should go only to Muslims,” he added. “We should keep in mind that in this country there is a general discrimination against minorities and the poorest workers. It is a widespread mentality which can also affect this tragedy. The fact that the rich are better off than the poor, having saved their own land, is a serious matter which the government must address.”

    Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

     
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    Posted by on September 9, 2010 in Christians, Discrimination

     

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