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Friday, 2 December 2011

Lahore Bishop and Pastor accused of blasphemy during "Interfaith Harmony"meeting

Pastor George (in blue) conducting a rural baptismal service.

There is a simple fact that cannot be ignored when tackling the ongoing an increasing extremism in Pakistan.  Quite simply, the blasphemy law is not for discussion even/especially during interfaith harmony meetings.

In January this year Punjab Governor Taseer - himself a Muslim - was labelled a blasphemer and assassinated for condemning the blasphemy laws of Pakistan.  Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti joined the list of Pakistani Martyrs in March, after he objected to the existing discriminatory laws.

America's relationship with Pakistan is at it's "lowest ebb" and David Cameron's recent comments on the Andrew Marr show, indicate that Pakistan could soon experience a sterner response from Britain when they next appear "cap in hand".

Yet all this significant past and future upheaval seem to have done little to alter the stoic resilience to positive reform, exhibited by the insouciant fat cats' of Pakistan.  Moreover in juxtaposition to resolutions passed by the opportunity-driven (Foreign aid) sycophants in Pakistan's  leadership, recent rulings from the "Pakistan Telecommunications Agency" in banning text messages containing the words "Jesus Christ", fly in the face of recently signed humanitarian laws and promises made to western government elites.  

Before I digress to far, I return to the original subject matter the prohibition that exists in Pakistan, related to dissension towards the  acrimony inducing blasphemy laws.  

In a despicable act of cruel intention and wanton abuse of primacy citizenship, the favoured Muslim class of Pakistan highlighted the low-esteem held for the incumbent Christian minority, by condemning A Christian Bishop and Pastor and accusing them of a blasphemy, for speaking out against the divisive blasphemy laws.
Bishop Pervaiz Joseph and Rev. Baber George were working with the "International Peace Council for Interfaith Harmony" (IPCIH), when they decided to start a new organization for  Christian rights. It is alleged that Rana Tahir Rahmat an Advocate and leader of IPCH and his group were incensed by this humanitarian activity and planned to take revenge against both Christian leaders by accusing them of blasphemy.  Pastor Baber George also works on a Church-planting project and for Christian minority rights. Bishop Pervaiz Joseph and Pastor Baber George have both been working on Interfaith Harmony and Peace promotion for the last seven years.

In a meeting on interfaith harmony with Sunni Tehreek in Lahore, during October 2011, the misuse of Pakistan's blasphemy law was discussed.   This became an opportunity for a an attack on the Christian pair.  Anger was exhibited during the meeting from Islamic leaders Rana Tahir, Nasreen Akhtar Advocate, Mohammad Sher Afghan and Moulana Mukhtar Ahmad Qadri.

Blasphemy charges have been laid against the two religious leaders who have had to go into hiding and eventually escaped to Sri Lanka.  Pastor George and and Bishop Joesph are safe for now but call for global prayer for their situation and other Christian leaders threatened in their town. The BPCA is in touch with Pastor George and received this message today(sic):

"We are in Sri Lanka both families and thank God we got registration with The UNHCR and now we living here in Sri Lanka and living here with Refugee Status we had explained to all Before the UNHCR 

Thank you very much for your great concern for us we Thanksgiving to the Lord for your love and care.  Here we live in rental house and just now we know only just few Christians. They are not able to give us financial help they can help morally and especially where our house is located they all Buddhist people, so we never can share our matters with them".  

Both families have been advised not to reveal the nature of their Asylum in Sri Lanka to anyone and cannot work in the country.  They are awaiting for Asylum transfer to another country and are desperate for donations towards their upkeep.  These families are amongst the few to have survived the persecution faced by the implementation of blasphemy charges and it is essential that wider Christian support ensues.  If you would like to assist the family and feel moved to donate something to help, please send cheques made payable to the BPCA to our address at the top of this blog.  Alternatively, you can send donations via our pay pal link at the top right hand corner of the blog.  Please mark donations with ref: BPCA/Two pastors.  

Pastor George ended by saying (sic):

"We are very very grateful to you for sent the funds to us and My wife and my kids, they all saying we Love you in Lord and in our family. Prayers we are praying for you please please give our greetings to your lovely family and church over there.

God bless you richly to all

Your brother in Lord
Pastor Baber George & Family"

Local Clergy in their town have been receiving telephone threats since the incident and we call for concerted prayer for their safety.  Gojra, Waris Pura and Gujranwala are still in our collective memories I am sure, I hope we do not see a repeat.

The BPCA has recently received a grant for local "Interfaith Harmony" work near our head office.   We can not imagine the type of extremist agenda manifesting itself in Pakistan being adopted here, where Christian's and Muslim's live in relative peace.  Pakistani leaders would do well, by taking heed of the modus operandi of existing bridge building groups in the UK.  The more moderate Muslim leaders in the UK - having lived in the atmosphere of partnership and unity promoted here - are surely duty bound to visit Pakistan and to dispel the myths about their faith.  Only then will a global effort to promote a wider acceptance of other faiths succeed!

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