On Minority Day Event, International Christian Voice Files Petition to Repeal Blasphemy Law with Government of Pakistan
Saturday August 13, 2011. Today International Christian Voice (ICV) celebrated “Pakistan Minority Day Pakistan, August 11” at Chandni Garden Banquet Hall in Brampton Ontario. Deputy Counsel General of Pakistan, Toronto Consulate Mr. Imran Ali was the guest of honor. The event was attended by over one hundred Canadians of Pakistani Christian Heritage and faith. A number of Canadian elected officials, representatives of Pakistani political parties in Canada, and Church leaders, community leaders, and representatives of other religious minorities of Pakistan attended and addressed the audience.
The event began with scripture reading by Pastor Bashrat David and prayer by Pastor Samuel Ghori, followed by national anthems of Canada and Pakistan. Serena Samuel and Raheel Masih did an excellent job as the masters of ceremony.
Pervez Masih, President ICV welcomed the honorable guests, and the audience, and provided a brief introduction to ICV, and the significance of “Minority Day Pakistan, August 11.” Mr. Masih explained the role and efforts of Shahbaz Bhatti, Federal Minister for Minorities Pakistan in getting this day recognized by the government of Pakistan. He was followed by Dr. Rev. Rashid Gill, Mrs. Phoebe Samuel, and Group Captain Retired Rev. James Luke.
These speakers highlighted the valuable contribution of Christians in the creation of Pakistan, its judiciary and civil services, education and health, and defense. Dr. Gill shared with the audience, the role and deciding Christian vote of Christian leaders at the time of decision by West Punjab to join Pakistan. He described in details of the significant role of Chief Justice A R Cornelius and his contributions to the justice system in Pakistan and the sport of Cricket.
Mrs. Samuel a nurse educator, and specialist in Forensic Psychiatry, signified the role of Christians in educating and caring for the Pakistani nation. She expressed her dismay at the alarmingly low literacy rate of Christians in Pakistan. She blamed nationalization of Christian Institution in 1972 by the PPP government for depriving Pakistani Christians of educational opportunities.
Rev. Luke, himself a decorated, retired air force officer, shared the Christians and of the significant contributions in the defense forces of Pakistan, particularly in her air force with the audience. Mr Javed Iqbal and ICV General Secretary Obied Newton paid tribute to Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti and other Pakistani Christians for the services and sacrifices. Audiences enjoyed and appreciated their poetic renditions.
Mr. Asher Habib, a successful Pakistani Christian Businessman in Canada, gave the most emotional speech of the afternoon. Audiences were teary eyes, as he described the treatment of Pakistani Christians at the hands of the majority Muslim population. Mr. Bishan Sigh Chohan, a Pakistani Sikh, and member of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti’s, All Pakistan Minority League, shared his experiences of persecution, and life as a Sikh minority in Pakistan
Hon, Tim Uppal (Minister of State for Democratic Reforms, Kyle Seeback M.P Brampton West, Parm Gill M.P Brampton Springdale, Mr. Frank Domenichiello from the office Hon Julian Fantino State Minister Of Defense, all offered their support for freedom of religion and human rights in Pakistan for the religious minorities. Hon Uppal reiterated Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canada’s Conservative Government’s plan to open an office of religious freedom. All these speakers congratulated Mr. Bhatti and ICV for hosting this event and offered their support in its mission.
Peter Bhatti Chairman International Christian Voice (ICV) signified the sacrifices of our forefather in the creation of Pakistan. He narrated Quide Azam’s vision for minorities at the time of creation of Pakistan, and explained in detail the poor treatment and persecution of Christian and other religious minorities in today’s Pakistan.
Mr. Bhatti narrated numerous incidents of violence against the lives and properties of Pakistani Christians. He specifically mentioned, Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law, its unconstitutionality, and misuse against Christians and other religious minorities of Pakistan. In his speech he paid tribute to Late Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab and Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti, Federal Minister for Minorities Pakistan, who was assassinated for speaking against this law. Mr. Bhatti then appealed all Pakistani political parties to request their leaders to stand united against its misuse and repeal.
After Mr. Bhatti’s speech, ICV Finance Secretary Mr Sebastian Gill, introduced Guest of Honor, Deputy Consul General of Pakistan Mr Imran Ali, and invited him to the podium. Before the presentation of the petition, Ms Nitasha Bhatti read to the audience, the text of the petition, to repeal the blasphemy law, which was signed by more than 8000.00 Canadian citizens.
Mr. Bhatti presented this petition in presence of Hon, Tim Uppal (Minister of State for Democratic Reforms, Kyle Seeback M.P Brampton West, Parm Gill M.P Brampton Springdale, Mr. Paul Hong from office of Hon. John Bread Minister Of Foreign affairs, Mr. FrankDomenichiello from the office Hon Julian Fantino State Minister of State for Defense, Ch Liquet Mailk and Danial Ibrham PPP, Imran Siddiqi MQM Canada, and representatives of All Pakistan Muslim League.
From local Church leaders, Pastor Samuel Ghori All Nation Bible Church Brampton, Pastor David Alexander New Convent Church Canada, Pastor Caral Patrick South Asian Christian Alliance Mississauga, Bishop Edwin Raiz New Apostolic Church Canada, Pastor Javed Akther Lutheran Evangelical Church Hamilton, Pastor Wilson Nazim, Rev Dr.Rashid Gill , Elder Kanwal Dean and Brother Younis Joseph, were present during the presentation of petition.
Mr.Imran Ail Deputy Consul General of Pakistan accepted the petition on behalf of the President of Pakistan. Mr. Ali regretted this law and its misuse in Pakistan against the religious minorities. He stressed on the education and development of minorities to overcome persecutions.
Towards the end of the event, Mr. Joe Daniel MP also dropped in to show his support to ICV in their mission to promote freedom of religion and human rights in Pakistan for Christians and other religious minorities. The event ended with a closing prayer by Bro. Richard. Attendees from Muslim faith left the event early due to Ramadan, whereas all others enjoyed fellowship and food into the evening.
For more information on this event or upcoming events, please contact;
Vincent Samuel 905-304-8144, Email: Vincentemail@example.com
Dr. Rev. Rashid Gill 416-569-8154, Email:firstname.lastname@example.org