Christians protest holy Quran’s desecration, also feel under threat after recent killings & attacks

Minority members of the provincial assembly (MPA) from both the treasury and the opposition benches on Friday protested against the Holy Quran’s desecration by US Pastor Terry Jones and labeled him a terrorist.

Christians have asked the Church of America to immediately dismiss priest Terry Jones over desecration of the Holy Quran and initiate criminal proceedings against him in the International Court of Justice.

The Archbishop Lawrence John Saldanha of Lahore has already expressed his anger and dismay at the incident. In a press statement, the prelate said: “On behalf of the Catholic bishop and Christians in Pakistan, I condemn this act of madness, which does not represent Christian values or teachings of the Church. We regret to note that someone who calls himself pastor is so ignorant in what is his religion, as well as normal decency. ” Last September, Terry Jones drew condemnation from the international community for his proposal of wanting to set fire to a pile of Korans to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11

A number of Christian minority organizations have deplored Terry’s act of hatred and contempt and have endorsed their full support to the protests. International Minority Alliance Chairman Nazir Qaiser and International General Secretary Jeem Phey Ghauri, in their joint statement, condemned the act of Terry as highly shameful & insane act. They also termed it a conspiracy to create unrest in the world.

“We reaffirm our position that the deliberate desecration of any holy book is an abhorrent act,”

“We condemn such acts as disrespectful, intolerant, and divisive. We are deeply concerned about all deliberate attempts to offend members of any religious or ethnic group,”

Meanwhile, the Christian community in Pakistan is once again the victim of violence by religious fundamentalists, who have targeted places of worship in the country.
In Hyderabad, hundreds of Christians staged a night-long protest on March 22 after two Christians, aged 24 and 45 were shot dead and two more injured in front of a Salvation Army Church. Vicar General Father Samson Shukardin and another priest led the demonstration in front of the central jail.

The protestors placed the dead bodies on road and demanded the arrest of the culprits and justice for the families. The post-mortem was conducted during the protest which continued till 5:30 am.

The killing of the two Christians comes a week after another Christian, sentenced to life imprisonment on false blasphemy charges, died in Karachi Central Prison. The family of Qamar David claims he was murdered on March 15, while conflicting reports from the jail suggest that he died of heart failure.

The incident had at its background a brawl between Christians and Muslims one day earlier, which resulted in the deaths of the pair. Three Muslims have been arrested so far. According to details residents of Hurr Camp, a colony of working-class Christians in Hyderabad in Sindh Province, were reportedly celebrating the 30th anniversary of their Salvation Army church when a group of Muslim youths gathered outside the building and started playing music loudly on their cell phones. They also started teasing Christian women as they arrived for the celebration, according to reports.

Christians Younis Masih, 47, Siddique Masih, 45, Jameel Masih, 22, and a 20-year-old identified as Waseem came out of the church building to stop the Muslim youths from teasing the Christian women, telling them to respect the sanctity of the church. A verbal clash ensued, after which the Muslim youths left, only to return with handguns and opened fire on the Christians, killing Younis Masih and Jameel Masih instantly, and seriously injuring Siddique Masih and Waseem. The injured men have been transferred to a hospital in Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh. The attackers hurled anti-Christian slogans and a feeling of anger toward the religious minority has spread. in the city The pastor of the church reports that “despite the condemnation of the burning of the holy Quran” the community “has come under attack because they think that we are linked to the Americans.” He emphasizes that “we are Pakistanis, who were born in this land and we do not have any kind of relationship with the United States.” “What fault did those two innocent people have – he ends – who were not Americans, but only Pakistani Christians?”.

Younis Masih is survived by his wife and four children, while Jameel Masih was married only a month ago, and his sudden death has put his family into a state of shock.

“My son had gone to the church to attend the anniversary celebrations from our family…a few hours later we were told about his death,” a wailing Surraya Bibi told foreign media.

“I got him married only a month ago. The cold-blooded murderers have destroyed my family, but our most immediate concern is Jameel’s wife, who has gone completely silent since the news was broken to her.”

She said the local police’s indifference towards the brutal incident had exacerbated the Christians’ sorrow.

“The police were acting as if it was not a big deal,” she said. “They did not register a case until late at night, when all of us blocked the main Hyderabad Expressway along with the two dead bodies for some hours.”

Jameel Masih’s paternal uncle, Anwar Masih, told foreign media that police were biased against the Christians, as “none of the accused has been arrested so far, and they are roaming the area without any fear.”

He said police had taken into custody some teenagers who had no involvement in the killings.

“This has been done just to show their senior officials that they are not sitting idle,” he said.

Anwar Masih said the families had little hope for justice, because “if we have to dishonor the dead bodies by placing them on the roads to get a case registered, what should we hope for when the investigations begin?”

He said that during their protest, some leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a regional political party known for its secular but often violent ideology, arrived and suggested the Christians retaliate against the Muslims.

“We told them that as Christians we are not going to take the law into our hands,” Anwar Masih said.

He said that Jameel Masih’s father, Sardar Masih, and the other Christians would visit the Baldia Colony police station Wednesday morning (March 23) to see whether there has been any progress in the investigation.

“Please pray for us,” he said.

The killing of the two Christians comes a week after another Christian, sentenced to life imprisonment on false blasphemy charges, died in Karachi Central Prison. The family of Qamar David claims he was murdered on March 15, while conflicting reports from the jail suggest that he died of heart failure.

If David died from torture, yesterday’s killings bring the number of Christians murdered in March alone to four, the most prominent among them being Federal Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, who was assassinated in Islamabad on March 2 for opposing the country’s controversial blasphemy laws.

Violence against minorities is increasing after the disrespectful act of pure madness of Florida pastor. Pakistani Christians already condemned the desecration of Holy Quran by Terry Jones, and they reportedly said that the pastor committed an ugly and abhorrent act that only promoted hatred in society.

حیدر آباد: ہلاکتوں کے خلاف احتجاج

پاکستان کے صوبہ سندھ کے شہر حیدر آباد میں پیر کی رات گئے قتل کیے جانے والے دوعیسائی نوجوانوں کے ورثاء نے رات بھر قومی شاہراہ پر ان کی لاشیں رکھ کر احتجاج کیا ہے۔

منگل کی صبح ضلعی پولیس افسر فرید سرہندی کی یقین دہانی پر مظاہرین لاشیں اٹھا کر ان کی آخری رسومات کے لیے چلے گئے۔

ضلعی پولیس افسرنے رات بھر دھرنا دینے والوں کو یقین دلایا کہ دو افراد کے قتل کے مرتکب افراد کو منگل کی شام تک حراست میں لے لیا جائے گا۔

حیدرآباد کی بلدیہ کالونی میں جہاں عیسائی برادری طویل عرصے سے رہائش پذیر ہے، پیر کی رات کو علاقے میں واقع ایک گرجا گھر کی پہلی سالگرہ کی تقریبات جاری تھیں اور اس تقریب میں خواتین بھی موجود تھیں۔

اسی دوران علاقے میں رہنے والے پالاری برادری کے نوجوان تیز آواز میں گانے بجا رہے تھے جس پر عیسائی لوگوں نے انہیں باز رہنے کے لیے کہا، اس پر دونوں کے درمیاں تلخ کلامی ہوگئی۔

عیسائی لوگوں کا کہنا ہے کہ’ لوگوں کے صلح کرانے کے باوجود پالاری نوجوان اپنے گھروں کوگئے اور آتشی اسلحہ لے آئے اور انہوں نے اندھا دھند فائرنگ شروع کردی۔‘

فائرنگ سے پانچ افراد زخمی ہو گئے جن میں سے دو شادی شدہ افراد موقع پر ہی ہلاک ہوگئے۔

نامہ نگار علی حسن کے مطابق اس واقعے کے بعد مسیحی لوگوں میں اشتعال پیدا ہوگیا اور وہ لاشوں کو لے کر قومی شاہراہ پر دھرنا دے کر بیٹھ گئے اور انہوں نے پیپلز پارٹی اور متحدہ کے نمائندوں کی دھرنا ختم کرانے کی کوششوں کو بھی رد کردیا اور رات بھر سڑک پر بیٹھے رہے اور ٹریفک بھی بند رہی۔

منگل کی صبح ڈی پی او سڑک کھلوانے کی غرض سے دھرنے کے مقام پر آئے اور لوگوں سے بات چیت کی اور لوگوں کو دھرنا ختم کرنے پر آمادہ کیا۔

دھرنے پر موجود گرجا گھر کے پادری فادر سیمسن کا کہنا تھا کہ اگر منگل کی شام تک قتل کے ذمہ دار افراد کو حراست میں نہیں لیا گیا تو مسیحی برادری کے لوگ

مقتولین کی

Courtesy BBC

The Daily Times article says, hate comes knocking again

The seeds of hate and conflict are being sown deep and strong and are entrenching themselves all over the world, even in places typically known as centres of tolerance and multiculturalism. Pastor Terry Jones, made notorious back in September last year for his bid to burn copies of the Holy Quran on the anniversary of 9/11, has made true on his claim to fame. Jones supervised the burning of a copy of the Holy Book after holding a ‘trial’ where he and his equally delusional flock of some 30 followers found the Quran ‘guilty’ of crimes against humanity. The whole episode sounds absurd and would have otherwise been easily dismissed as the actions of a madman. Unfortunately, in the current political and religiously fuelled climate of the world, such acts can lead to devastating consequences. As usual, Pakistan has been especially vocal in condemning this desecration and the president himself has voiced his anger and concern over the issue during his address to the joint session of parliament. He has also advised that the UN address this matter. The US embassy in Pakistan has wasted no time in condemning this action. It is expected that a chain reaction of condemnation, anger and objections will pour out of the Muslim world — such defilements cannot and will not be tolerated, no matter what the religion, no matter what the nation.

At the same time, Lahore has witnessed another incident of hate speech and mob mobilisation that could have gone horribly wrong. In the Badami Bagh district of inner city Lahore, hardline clerics accused members of the Full Gospel Assembly Church of burning a copy of the Quran after finding some burnt pages in a garbage heap in the area. There was no proof of foul play by the church community but our fanatic clerics wasted no time in targeting the minorities in the area. Hundreds of people gathered to teach the Christians a lesson (apparently Gojra-like attacks are our idea of retribution) but, thankfully, the local police intervened in time to disperse the mob and avert a situation that could have turned savage and deadly.

As is evident, incitement, no matter where it comes from, either from the likes of Pastor Terry Jones or the likes of our neighbourhood clerics — both from opposite directions — can be dangerous and tantamount to stoking conflict and animosity across the globe. It must be remembered by all that elements such as these aim to promote nothing more than hate to fulfil their own agendas. Here in Pakistan, hardliner elements are looking to gain political mileage once again after the many gains they made during the blasphemy laws issue and the assassination of Punjab Governer Salmaan Taseer. It has become all too easy now for them to point fingers at anyone, particularly minorities, and accuse them of blasphemy without fear of retribution. The government, especially in Punjab, must take all steps to curb this vicious cycle of hate begetting hate and sermons that can inculcate a culture of violence and intolerance. We cannot afford more religious ‘cleansing’ in the name of faith.

At the same time, the US must also clamp down on the likes of Terry Jones. If anti-Semitism is not tolerated, there is no excuse to allow men like the pastor to get away with such distasteful provocation. The Muslim world will always condemn such insane acts. It is, however, recommended that Muslims the globe over do not give Jones what he wants, and that is an overreaction. The man and his acts ought to be ignored; when importance is not awarded him, his mission will remain unfulfilled. *

Below is an accompanying article originally published in the ‘Express Tribune’.

Christians show they stand with the Muslims

KARACHI: When the Christian youth joined the protest against the burning of the Holy Quran in Florida, they all had one motive: to show that they just want peace and religious harmony.

Arshia Arooj, a third-year MBBS student, felt that she is under threat even though she has no personal enemies. In reaction to Pastor Terry Jones’ desecration of a copy of the Holy Quran, Christians have already been targeted twice in the last three days: one in Lahore when a church was attacked and another in Hyderabad where six Christians were beaten, out of which four succumbed to their injuries, she said.

Fearful of the backlash, Arooj accompanied other members of the Christian community to the Karachi Press Club on Thursday to pacify her Muslim brothers and sisters hurt by this act. “I am a Pakistani before I am a Christian and I am here to show that that it’s not just the older generation but the younger generation as well that wants peace and religious harmony in the country for their future,” she said.

Addressing the press conference, MPA Saleem Khursheed Khokhar, who is also the Christian Parliamentarians Forum coordinator and All Pakistan Minority Alliance Sindh president, said that the entire Christian community in the country stands united against such hate-mongering.

“It’s a violation of our religious ideology and a plot to upset world peace,” he said. “It is not what our religion preaches.”

He said that our respect for the Muslims’ holy book can be gauged from the fact that minority members of the assembly take an oath by the Holy Quran, although in court the Christians give their testimony by taking an oath by the Bible and Hindus by the Geeta. Khokhar said he has already tabled a resolution in the Sindh Assembly condemning this “barbarous” act.

“The religious leaders of all faiths in Pakistan are not playing their part and religious intolerance in increasing day by day,” said Reverend George Gill of the United Church of Pakistan. Ghazala Shafiq, the Minority Women Forum for Justice spokesperson, criticised politicians, saying that both the attacks on Christians were a reaction to Chaudhry Nisar’s speech.



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