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Saturday 30 July 2011

Groups attempt to create Sharia-controlled zones in UK cities

Over the last few weeks, several stories have emerged of Islamicist groups making public plans to create Sharia-ruled areas within the UK.  One national paper recently reported that the banned group ‘Islam 4 UK’ has started a campaign for ‘Sharia-controlled zones’.  They do this by pasting signs on lampposts and the like which mimic official posters with ‘You are entering... zone’ with icon images in a crossed circle indicating which activities are ‘banned’.  They have posted them in areas with significant Muslim populations, like Newham, Walthamstow and Tower Hamlets.  Police and councils are said to be working to remove the posters and track those who posted them. 

A quick search of the internet revealed several stories that attributed the same strategy to the group ‘Muslims against Crusades’, the newest group to rise, phoenix like from the ashes of ‘Islam4UK’.  This group’s website openly takes responsibility, saying it is part of its ‘Islamic Emirates Project’ that seeks to ‘fragment large sections of Britain into Muslim enclaves operating under Shariah law’.

Their website says that today (30th July) they plan a march in support of their goals from Leyton underground station to Walthamstow Central.  They also claim to have support from a number of Muslim organisations, including the Society of Muslim lawyers.

 Their posters proclaim ‘Beware: You are entering a Sharia-controlled zone - Islamic rules enforced’ and ban concerts, music, gambling, porn, drugs, prostitution, alcohol and, according to some reports ‘gender-mixing’.  They claim to have large numbers of ‘Sharia police’ to seek to enforce these laws, and state that ‘there will be a very intensive campaign to distribute the posters to Muslim and non-Muslim communities about what the Sharia means economically, socially, and politically’  They plan ‘a march will target Waltham Forest, including Walthamstow and Leyton. We will administer the zone as one under Sharia and plant in the long term the seeds of an Islamic emirate. We wish to create a zone where Muslims can live together, deal among themselves, and interact with each other instead of interacting with society at large.’   They plan to do the same in all 25 areas that the government has designated ‘extremist hotspots’. 

It is doubtless true that this is to some extent a publicity stunt.  The small group has often made waves by announcing provocative acts (poppy burning , for example), not all of which have actually taken place.  There is some debate about how well-supported their views are.  However, the tactics they are advocating are certainly not theirs alone.  They have been the standard since the start of Islam when Muslims are in a growing minority in non-Muslim lands, and exactly match the tactics of other Islamicist groups in the West.  For Pakistani Christians, who witness the extreme suppression and violence against their brothers in the Sharia-dominated homeland, we have extra reason to be concerned.  For some, at least part of the reason for coming to the UK was to escape such oppression.  The same could be said for a significant proportion of Muslim (and other) Pakistani’s who have come to the UK.  That is why we cannot ignore such groups, however small they seem.  They seek to grow and Islamicist / Sharia powerbase within the Muslim community.  And the more power they gain, the more pressure there will be on moderate and conservative Sharia observant (but not militant) Muslims to join or acquiesce, and the more their base will grow.  This is part of the point of their tactics.  They openly state they want to create and grow independent Islamic states within the UK, and implementing Sharia law is one of the main means.  In this regard, it is relevant to note that a recent Ministry of Justice probe into the Sharia courts that are at the centre of this push to impose Sharia law on the country has been shelved because the Sharia courts refused to co-operate.

Nor is such raising of grave concerns scare-mongering or inciting hatred, as some would have it.  This is not a theoretical danger, by any stretch of the imagination.  To remind those who don’t know, recently the Tower Hamlets borough of London was taken over by an administration with strong links to an extremist Islamicist organisation (with significant reports of voter fraud and corruption).  Result?  Oodles of hate-filled Islamic material from banned Muslim preachers in the public libraries, moderate and non-practicing Muslim women verbally attacked in their places of employment over their dress, including having death threats made against them, a rise in violence against gays (set against a background of declarations of a ‘gay-free zone’), the routine leaking of confidential enquiries by (opposition) council members, and the condemning of opposition council members as ‘Islamophobic’ if they make any enquiry about a subject with an Islamic angle.  One female council member (a moderate Muslim) reports that as a result she found herself subconsciously dressing more conservatively, in compliance with the extremists demands.  That dynamic sums up the clear and present danger in a nutshell.  And for those of us who follow the plight of Christians in Pakistan, the patterns shown in Tower Hamlets are familiar. 

We need to stand up against this trend and expose it for what it is.  Pakistani Christians of all people should work to block this.  We need to make it an issue of concern in our communities, and the wider church and society, and not bury our heads in the sand.  We need to pray, and publicly stand against this, raising it with political leaders on both a local and national level.  We should do so in a calm, measured way, not giving way to fear, but with (to borrow from the history of this, our adopted homeland) a Churchillian demeanor and attitude, and above all with the love, faith and hope that are ours in Christ Jesus, from our heavenly Father by the Holy Spirit. 

For sources of information, see the following links :

Monday 25 July 2011

Was Jinnah's intended original design for Pakistan one that is more liberal than modern times?

We have received the article below from Kamran James of the Department of Political Science at Forman Christian College.  He has requested it's publication on our blogsite for wider circulation.  It provides some fascinating insights on the formation of Pakistan, Jinnah's vision and that of other lead Minority and Muslim leaders of the day.  We hope you enjoy reading the article as much as we did:

Objective Resolution 1949
(A Historic Review of Minorities Perspective)
Mr. Kamran James
Department of Political Science
Forman Christian College
(A Chartered University)
(Updated on July 20th, 2011)

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah while depicting the outline of the future constitution of God gifted state of Pakistan in the first constituent assembly of Pakistan under the president ship of a minority representative jogender Nath Mandal very frankly said:

Pakistan is not a theoretical state we would treat the people of other religions with tolerance. We welcome all persons irrespective of caste, color or creed as being the equal citizen of Pakistan

After being elected the first president of the constituent assembly on 11th August 1947, Jinnah delivered his memorable presidential address. It is one of his most important speeches in which he clearly outlined the ideal and concept of Pakistan. The first duty of the government, he declared was maintenance of law and order and protection of life, property and religious beliefs of the citizens.

 He called upon the majority and minority communities in Pakistan, Muslims and Hindus respectively, to bury the hatchet, forget the past and cooperate with each other. He exhorted them to concentrate on the well being of the people, especially of the poor. He declared that all citizens of Pakistan regardless of their color caste or creed would enjoy equal rights, privileges and obligations.

The Quaid Said: 

“I can not emphasis it to much we should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities   of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community- because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Sunnis, Shias and so on an among the Hindus you have Brahmans, vashnavas, khatris, also Bengalese, madrasis, and so on-will vanish. Indeed if you ask me this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence and but for this, we would have been free people long ago. No power can hold another nation and especially a nation of 400 million souls in subjection: no body could have conquered you, and even if it had happened, no body could have continued its hold on you for any length of time but for this. There fore we must learn a lesson from this.”

He then proceeded to affirm the right to religious freedom in the following words:

“You are free: you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state”.

He further added:

"Now, I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time, Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state.
It is evident from the speech that jinnah’s prescription for the constitution of Pakistan included guarantees that: one, all citizens of Pakistan would be equal regardless of their belief, caste or creed: two, that all citizens would be guaranteed freedom to practice whatever religion they believed in : three, that all religious, sectarian, ethnic, linguistic and other similar distinction would cease no matter in political sense, and the constitution would ensure that the nation should progress regardless of such distinction and four that Pakistan would not be a theocratic state and religion would be a citizen’s personal matter."

Commenting on Don Campbell’s question (writer’s Correspondent in New Delhi) regarding the protection of the minorities in the new state of Pakistan. 

Muhammad Ali Jinnah very clearly stated:

“There is only one answer. The minorities must be protected and safeguarded. The minorities in Pakistan will be the citizens of Pakistan and enjoy all the rights privileges and obligations of citizenship with out any distinction of caste, sect. They will be treated justly and fairly .The government will run the administration and control the legislative measures by its parliament and the collective conscience of the parliament itself will be a guarantee that the minorities need have any apprehensions of any injustice being done to them. Over and above that there will be provisions for the protection and safeguard of the minorities which in my opinion must be embodied in the constitution itself. And this will leave no doubt as to the fundamental rights of the citizens ‘protection of religion and faith of every section freedom of thought and protection of their cultures and social life" (For reference see Dawn 22nd May, 1947, Jinnah Papers: prelude to PakistanVol.01 Lahore)

On another occasion Jinnah Said:

“Pakistan does not merely postulates the freedom for the Muslims we want freedom for the both Muslims and Hndus.There can not be Pakistan with out securing freedom for Hindustan” Speech at F.C College Lahore March 31,1946)

In short Jinnah visualized Pakistan as a modern progressive and democratic sate whose energies would be harnessed towards the uplift of the people, especially the masses and the poor and evils such as corruption, bribery, black-marketing, nepotism and jobbery would be stamped out. This was a reaffirmation of what Jinnah had told Don Campbell, Reuter’s correspondent in New Delhi in 1946:

The new state would be democratic state with sovereignty resting in the people and the members of the new nation having equal rights of citizenship regardless of their religion, caste or creed”.   

Contrary to Jinnah’s political philosophy, the first Prime minister of Pakistan Nawab Liaquat Ali khan moved objective resolution on 7th March 1949 in the constituent Assembly outlining the basic Principles for the constitutional frame work which was opposed by the Hindu members. According to them the proposed Objective Resolution by Prime Minister of God gifted State of Pakistan is contrary to the 11th August’s speech of Quaidi-i- Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. 

At the conclusion of the Liaqat Ali Khan’s speech all the amendments proposed by the non Muslim members were put to the vote of the constituent Assembly. These amendments were rejected by the House by ten against twenty one.  As soon as the Resolution was moved, a non Muslim member ,Pram Hari Barma proposed that the motion be circulated for eliciting public opinion thereon by the 30April 1949.This motion was vehemently supported by another non Muslim member Sirs Chandra chattopadhyaya in the following words;  

“So long as we had an idea that the constitution would be based on the eternal principles of equality democracy and social justice. We thought that religion and politics would not be mixed up. That was the declaration of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in this house but the resolution before us has a religious basis.”   

Out of the long speeches made by the non Muslim members of the constituent assembly, the speech of Birat Chandra Mandal, made on 9 March, 1949 was an eloquent and representative one for the minorities parts of which are:  

“Sir is there not pundits in India who could not insist on political thinkers of India to adopt such a constitution. Are there not bishops in England nor in America or in any other country which is dominated by Christians on the face of the globe?
“Individuals might have religion, but the state has got no religion. So in the interests of the state of which I am a humble member. I bring it to your notice through  the president  that you will be held responsible because you are the sponsor of this resolution not to the countries in the world which have made their constitutions in the past but also to the posterity who will think of making their constitutions in the future. So I tell you again and again to ponder over the resolution before you finally adopt it.

“But as you bring in religion or things as matters of faith. You open the door ajar for resentment of criticism. You then leave it to absolutism to fling it wide open. Sir I feel –I have reason to believe that were this resolution to come before this house with in life time of great creator of Pakistan, The Quad-I-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah it would not have come in its present shape .Even with you, sir, the honorable mover of this resolution at the helm of affairs in the state, I have no fear that criticism will be stilled or absolutism will find a chance to assert it self.”   

The Minority members who voted for the amendments were: 
1)     Mr Preme Hari Burma
2)     Prof. Raj Kumar Chakarvarty
3)     Mr Sris Chandra Kumar Chattopadhyaya
4)     Mr Akshay Kumar Dass
5)     Mr Bhupendra Kumar Data
6)     Mr jnanendra Chandra Majumdar
7)     Mr Birat Chandra Mandal
8)     Mr bhebesh Chandra Nandy
9)     Mr Dhananjoy Roy
10) Mr Harrendra Kumar Sur

After voting on the amendments the main resolution was passed before the constituent assembly and was adopted.   

The Hindu members vehemently opposed also the basic Principles report, of 1953 where it was purposed that that the head of state shall be Muslim. In September 1954 session of the constituent assembly the constitutional amendment bill could not be passed. After one month the constituent Assembly was dissolved by Bureaucrat Malik Ghulam Muhammad unexpectedly

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in his first address to the Constituent Assembly in 1947, said:

“I sincerely Hope that you with your support and your cooperation we shall make this Constituent assembly, an example to the world. The Constituent assembly was got two main functions to perform. The first is the very onerous and responsible task of framing our future constitution of Pakistan and the second of functioning as a full and complete sovereign body as the Federal Legislature of Pakistan”

And what did the members of that constituent assembly do? They wrangled endlessly over what kind of constitution Pakistan should have. The most they could do in two years time was to have the controversial Objective Resolution moved in the Assembly by Liaquat Ali khan in March1949. it was controversial because it was not in accordance with the guidelines set by Quad I- Azam in his 11th August address and in a host of other statements and declaration he had made earlier and was therefore boycotted by the Non Muslims members of Assembly .By then the neighboring India the draft of the constitution had been published and was soon adopted by the central Legislative Assembly in November 1949, becoming effective two months later in January 1950. .”(The Foreign Policy of Pakistan, Musa Khan Jalal Zai, pp23-24, Ariana Publications)

The constituent assembly went on neglecting the onerous and responsible talks of framing a constitution and the process got itself dissolved by Governor General Ghulam Muhammad in October 1954.Eventually it took 9 long years,2 Constituent assembly,4governor generals 04 prime ministers and 5 governments before Pakistan finally got its first constitution on 23rd march 1956,only to be robbed of a with in year and a half following the imposition of martial law on 7th Oct 1958 since then Pakistan have had a series of constituent and non constituent assemblies and  Majlees- a- Shooras and more than one constitution not one of them corresponding either to what Jinnah had envisaged or to the needs and aspirations of the vast majority of the people of Pakistan.

Jinnah recognized that once independence was achieved more than religion would be necessary to unify the fragmented polity and that he would no broaden the basis for national identity. In this oft-quoted address to the constituent assembly of august 11, 1947 he outlined the principles on which the new state was to be based.” Religion would have nothing to do with the business of the state, he declared.”(The Foreign Policy of Paksitan, Musa Khan Jalal Zai, pp23-24, Ariana Publications)

It is unfortunate that there was a division on the resolution along communal Lines and there was not even a single minority vote casted in favor of the Resolution. Muslims members voted against the amendments and non Muslim members voted for the amendments. One cannot escape the conclusion that the Resolution might have sown the seeds of suspicion, alienation, and distrust among the minorities against the majority. It might have been prudent to accept some of the amendments proposed by the members representing the minorities in order to reach an understanding with them so that the resolution could have been passed by consensus.  

It can not be denied that some of the proposed amendments were quite reasonable and moderate and their point of view ought to have been accommodated in the larger national interest (Constitutional and political History of Pakistan by Hamid khan, pp64-65 Oxford university press, The Constituent Assembly of Pakistan Debates, Volume V-1949, pp2-7)  

(Compiled by Mr. Kamran James, Assistant Professor & Head Department of Political Science Forman Christian College, A Chartered University Lahore, Pakistan)

Saturday 23 July 2011

Farah Hatim a Christian girl kidnapped, raped and then forced into Islamic marriage - Court closes hearing after Farah could take the pressure no more!

Farah Hatim - our brave brave sister!

Farah Hatim the girl at the fore of a huge debate on the kidnap of Minority women and forced marriage into Muslim families, gave up her freedom on the 20th July 2011.  
It would seem threats to her and her family and an assumed pregnancy with associated stigma, forced the hand of this brave women who fought against the oppression and violence meted out to her.  
No doubt this story will offend many people and will cause great despair in our community, however, we must recognise the bravery of Farah, in taking the issue this far and the love she has for her family.  She was allowed to meet her family for just 10 minutes after the hearing and now they have no authority to see her Agenzia Fides tells us.  
Our concern is she has no rights of her own in Pakistan a country with one of the worst womens' rights practices and records globally.  
There is no way of telling what treatment or lifestyle Farah can expect now, however we know that she has a strong faith in Christ and we should all now pray for that faith to continue, through what will be a tormenting future.  
Farah if expecting a child will see that child grow with a faith not natural to her or one that she by choice would have exposed her child to.  Moreover she has had to tear her heart asunder by creating a permanent separation from a family she no doubt would never have wanted.

The 20th July has now to be regarded as one of the darkest days of our history, but stay strong and hold on to your faith.  As one day, I believe, God will remove our people from this awful tyranny!
Here is a full account of the story produced by Agenzia Fides:

ASIA/PAKISTAN – The Punjab High Court closes the case: Farah Hatim stays with the Muslim family
invia articolo printable version preferiti Bahawalpur (Agenzia Fides) – The Catholic girl Farah Hatim will stay with her Muslim husband. This is what sources of Fides in Bahawalpur say, where today, July 20, the hearing before the local branch of the Punjab High Court was held. The appeal before the High Court was presented by the APM (All Pakistan Minorities Alliance), after a court of first instance had turned down the request to meet the girl, who according to family members was kidnapped and forced to marry a Muslim man in the city of Rahim Yar Khan (see Fides 12/7/2011).

In tears, Hatim Farah appeared today before the judge of the High Court of Punjab, Bahawalpur section. When the judge asked her the question “which family do you choose”, the girl, after an interminable silence, replied: “Both.” The Court argued that “this is impossible”, the question was repeated. At that point, Farah chose her new Muslim family.

So the curtain drops on a case that has enthralled the Christian community public in Pakistan, concerned about Christian girls who are kidnapped and forced into an Islamic marriage, more than 700 cases are reported every year. The judge allowed Farah to have a private talk with her family of origin for 10 minutes. The girl, say sources of Fides, reported that she was indeed “taken in” but she also confided, visibly shaken, that “she cannot come back”. According to Farah’s family, the reasons for her choice are not clear: they could be due to death threats or intimidations, but also the possibility that the girl is pregnant. In this case, according to the customary law of Pakistan, Farah cannot help but stay with her husband, because if repudiated, she would be “labeled forever” and no man would ever want her by his side.

“Beyond the possible reasons, when the court asked her the most important question, Farah said she wanted to stay with her Muslim husband, marking her destiny forever. From now on, the family of origin no longer has any authority over her, even according to the law ” note sources of Fides.

The High Court had set the hearing for yesterday, July 19, ordering the police of Rahim Yar Khan to take the girl. The agents did not execute the order yesterday, saying the judge was ill. The judge issued a new 

In any case Farah’s family confirmed to Fides their concern for the girl’s destiny, saying they are “not convinced” of the story’s outcome. This is why they ask the international community to put pressure on the Pakistani government to review the case. Local sources of Fides say that Farah was however victim of a network that carries out ” women trafficking”, with ties in the hospital where Farah worked and in the world of politics, to provide girls to politicians in sight. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 20/07/2011

Friday 22 July 2011

Melody of the mind highlight poverty and persecution of Minorities in Pakistan

A short video with devotional chanting and photo images of the lifestyle of Pakistani Christians has been produced by Melody of the Mind, led by Nathaniel Lewis.  He is soon to become  a Trustee of the BPCA and is a man full committed to championing the rights of the Pakistani Christian community, despite being white in origin.  This is a clear example of why wider collaborations are so vital for our community and I pray that more of us will allow this fruitful partnerships to blossom.  Please enjoy the video by clicking the link below:

Thursday 21 July 2011

Persecution report writing service for Asylum Applications.

To raise income for the BPCA we have for some while been producing reports for individuals and Solicitors.  The report provides evidence of the overall discrimination, prejudice, oppression and persecution of minorities in Pakistan.  We have been charging fees of £200 to Solicitors of whom 100% have reported that they have succeeded with their applications.  We cannot gauge how much of that success is due to our report but I have been told we were a significant contributing factor.

If any Pakistani Christian would like to purchase the report form us direct for a limited time only we are willing to offer a report on our headed paper for a fee of £75.  Some of our early-bird brothers have benefited from a lower fee, however as we receive little financial support from our own churches we have been forced to charge this rate.

If you would like to order a report please contact us by email at or call 020 8514 0861.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Working with other communities is the only way for success!

I received this encouraging email form Pakistan which has provided me with great hope.  It seems despite what some of our community feels, that more and more groups are opening the door to wider collaborations,in an attempt to bring peace  to a nation riven with violence and prejudice:

Dear Wilson Chowdhry
British Pakistani Christians Association
Greetings from Pakistan!
Your association has been doing very important work of highlighting the plight of Pakistani religious minorities and organizing Pakistani Christians Diaspora. We also appreciate your approach to raise voice for rights of all Pakistanis. Your interaction with Hindus, Sikhs, moderate Muslims and ethnic minorities e.g. Balouchis, and inviting them to participate in British Pakistani Christians Association demonstrations and other activities are steps in right direction.
Minority Rights Commission (MRC) has been doing research on minority issues in Pakistan from last ten years. We have conducted and published about 15 research reports on religious minorities of Pakistan. We are sending you our one study "Minor status major problems: State of Christians in Pakistan" published by Minority Rights Commission. In this study we have analyzed the phenomena of mob attacks against Christians in Pakistan especially in province of Punjab.  
Minorities Movement for Democracy (MMD) has been arranging demonstrations, public gatherings, rallies and Sufi conferences and formed a broader alliance of religious minorities, ethnic groups (Siraikis, Sindhis, Pashton and Balauchs), followers of Sufi Saints and Human Rights groups to challenge the rising tide of religious extremism in Pakistan.
We are also sending youtube video clips some of MMD activities:
mmdpk007-Khawaja Fareed Uras, Kot Mithan, district Rajanpur 12-3-2011
mmdpk006-Demonstration Assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti 6-3-2011
mmdpk005-Peace Conference and Bacha Khan: Torch bearer of Peace and Non-violence, Lahore 22-2-2011
mmdpk004-International Mother Language Day celebration and Protest, Multan, 21-2- 2011
mmdpk003-Hunger Strike and Protest by Siraiki Student Organization, 6-2-2011
mmdpk002-Khawaja Fareed Cultural Conference, Kot Mithan, district Rajanpur, 30-1-2011
mmdpk001-Long March by Siraiki people for separate province 20-1-2011
Sufi Mela, February 4, 2011 in Gujranwala
Tasawaf Conference March 27, 2011 in Gujranwala
In future, we want to get engage with you and your association. Hoping an early response!  
With Regards and Best wishes,
Younis Alam
Chairman Minorities Movement for Democracy (MMD)
Executive Director Minority Rights Commission (MRC)

Wednesday 13 July 2011

My Mother is in hospital and I would appreciate your prayers.

Dear all,

Many of you will know my mother Helen Victoria Chowdhry the wife of Waheeb Ur Rehman Chowdhry (RIP).

She has been in hospital for 4 days now after taking ill on Saturday.  We have been told she has kidney failure and water on the lungs and this has been aggravated by the complications of her insulin dependency for diabetes.

Mum watched my recent interview on Gateway TV with glee, it was the first time she had seen me on TV and was pleased with my performance.  She had been suffering with flu and stayed up late to watch the show but awoke with great lethargy on Saturday morning. My brother rushed her to our local hospital and she was placed in critical care, the seriousness of her condition has reduced, however mum is still very ill and will be an inpatient indefinitely.

We as a family would appreciate your prayers at this difficult time and those of you who know her personally and would like to meet with her should get in contact with either myself or my siblings.

Awestruck by God's creation in the foothills of Wales.

Zeeshan doing his thing!

Wilson, Revd John Weir and Zeeshan after a scintillating service!

On a hot summer's night Juliet, Wilson and children travelled through the foothills of the Snowdonian range for a night of support for the Christians of Pakistan at Capel Rehoboth, Nant Peris, Gwynedd.  Sunday, 10th July was the monumental date, at which renowned soloist Zeshan Rahab from the Punjab joined the BPCA to share our culture, music, testimonies and reports on the situation in Pakistan with Welsh Christians.  We were joined by former Anglican Chaplain of the inter-denominational Holy Trinity Church, Dubai, Revd. John Weir - who incidentally also joined our protest on the 2nd July.  

The drive was on in which my family and I were awestruck on just how beautiful God's creation is.  The massive green hills we had to climb to get to the venue, left me shaking at the driving wheel.  I could not look down to my left as I have a slight fear of heights and can confirm that although it was exciting for my family and a pleasant journey for them - I have never felt closer to God, then when I was praying for safe arrival at the church.  

The event which is being hailed as the first of its kind in Wales was conducted in a myriad of languages, Welsh, English and Urdu.  The event kicked off with a welcome in Welsh by Elian the organiser who translated this into English.  Participants and visitors alike were then enthralled by the soft dulcet tones of the angelic singers from the local chapel choir.  

We then heard from Reverend John Weir who described the churches in  Dubai.  Rev Weir spoke of the desideratum for churches to operate in a clandestine fashion.  However, he stated that despite the threat of persecution and death for believers, the church has grown significantly both spiritually and physically.  He questioned the audience on how many Christians were in his group of churches in Dubai, and figures between 500 and 2000 were put forward.  You can imagine the surprise of the church when Rev Weir talked of a regular attendance of in excess of 10,000!

Rev Weir went on to describe how he found Zeeshan and instantly recognised his talents.  Zeeshan was working as a labourer in Dubai, after having emigrated from Pakistan seeking employment.  Obtaining a visa to the UK for Zeeshan to perform proved to be a difficult process.  At one stage it seemed an unassailable goal, until the kindly and timely intervention of Stephen Timms a Labour MP.  Since then Rev John and Zeeshan have set a schedule to travel up and down the country and their next stop will be the North of England and then on to Scotland after an invitation from George Dean.

Zeeshan's performance was both immaculate and elevating and although I am not a keen follower of Ghazals, the pitch perfect performance was one that was moving, especially after hearing Zeeshan's English translation of the lyrics of the song.  

The Pastor from the church spoke of the manner in which God's spirit transcends all language barriers, stating that God's energy could be felt through the passion of the singer and the evocative nature of the music.  

I had a cathartic moment at this point, as during a recent TV interview on Gateway TV I was pilloried by an infamous caller known as Romael Pervais, who insisted that a lack of of ability with Punjabi and Urdu language precluded me from representing Pakistani Christians.  Here I was about to speak on behalf of our community in English and I was bolstered with the knowledge that my English at this meeting would serve great purpose - a  language that would be universally known by all visitors!

I spoke of the persecution that our community faced describing incidents such as the wedding day accusation of a Quran desecration that led to the burning of 100 homes and 2 churches in Gojra, in August 2009.  I described the sordid and utterly detestable treatment of Shazia Bashir that 11 year old victim of rape, torture and death by starvation. I also described the deaths in Prison for Robert Danish and Qamar David held captive under false blasphemy charges and the shooting of Sajid and Wajid Masih outside the Faisalabad High Court, after being acquitted of false blasphemy charges.  

A case was put forward for freedom of Asia Bibi, the emblem of the Pakistan freedom movement as I described her words that sparked such outrage in Pakistan, that thousands of Muslims led protest marches calling for her death.  As I talked about the assassinations of  Shahbaz Bhatti and Governor Taseer I noticed the shock and surprise emanating around the room.  I queried whether the congregation had been aware of the persecution in Pakistan and unanimously the response was no.  This knowledge made the meeting worth its weight in gold, as I recognised that our Welsh brothers and sisters could now join us in prayer for Pakistan more informed on the diabolical nature of the existing societal structures in Pakistan.

I spoke a little more on the wider inequalities in Pakistan, including the biased constitution of Pakistan, the employment and educational disparity that pervades in the homeland and the overt lack of cultural cohesion.

The event then ended with some more songs form the Welsh choir on a night of hybrid worship, praise and prayer to our Almighty living God.

After the service I spoke with the Reverend John Pritchard of  Rehoboth Church, who is editor for the Christian interdenominational newspaper to the 4 main churches in Wales.  He is going to publish a report on the service and the situation in Pakistan and this could be the starting point for a major rally for justice from Welsh Christians.

On Thursday we had to refuse a visit to Parliament for a meeting with a Pakistani Senator due to the interview with Gateway TV. The meeting would have allowed us to raise concerns about the quality of life for minorities in Pakistan.  On Saturday I was compere for SS Peters and Paul's Catholic School Summer Fete where I am a school Governor, this meant I missed a meal with Senators, Federal Ministers and Kamran Michael our Christian Punjab Minister.  On Sunday whilst reaching out to Welsh Christians I had to forgo a meeting with Kamran Michael and others at Hounslow.  

There is only so much that can be done through our limited volunteers one in Newcastle and the other in Mauritius.  We desperately require local volunteers from London who would be willing to fill in as spokespersons for our group.  We are looking for young British Pakistani Christians or wider Christians, with a passion for change in Pakistan.

If you  would like to be more involved in the work of the BPCA please do make contact.

A local Welsh choir performed enviably!