Monday, 29 August 2011
Sunday, 28 August 2011
The independence of South Sudan on 24 July 2011 was a momentous event. After decades of fighting domination by the Arabic speaking and increasingly radically Islamic north, the largely Christian, animist and Black African south achieved liberation. While it would be naïve to assume all is well in the new state, especially since the former rebel movement has not given up human rights abuses as it attempts to become a responsible government, there are some hopeful signs as the state rebuilds a much damaged infrastructure and traumatised population.
The independence of this republic comes at a time when momentous changes have occurred in the Arab world, of which the formerly united Sudan was an active element. Sadly as with nearly all revolutions hope has turned to despair and dreams into nightmares. The crushing of civil society and democratic aspirations for decades by corrupt leaders has allowed well organised Salafist groups to fill the vacuum, holding out the promises of a new dawn to a population weary of unemployment, runaway inflation, poverty, corruption and the lack of hope that is all part of a crumbling vampire state. The signs were there before the Arab Spring. In Iraq the overthrow of Saddam has led to tensions between not just Shias and Sunnis, Kurds and Arabs, but the little known plans to exterminate the Christian minority in that country. The Assyrians have in particular been the unmentioned target of Kurdish separatists. While Christians and Muslims joined hands in Tahrir Square during the revolution in Egypt, and for the first time church bells rang openly, now the indigenous and minority Coptic community in that country is under siege; only escaping the worst of the heat when Israel becomes the target of rage, nurtured for years by official state anti-Semitism since Nasser. In Tunisia, Libya, Iraq and other countries of the region the Jewish minority has either been cleansed or dwindled into negligible numbers in the burning atmosphere which surrounded the creation of Israel. But as the Salafists always said, after the “Saturday people” would come the “Sunday people”. Notwithstanding the contribution of Arab Christians to modern nationalism in the region (e.g. Michel Aflaq who founded the Ba’ath Party), this minority has been squeezed out of public life. In Lebanon, a formerly Christian majority country and the most vibrant state in the region, civil war dislocated democracy and civil society creating a hotbed for terrorism.
As the Arab Spring turns into the inevitable Arab Ice Age where can minority Christians turn? Europe has long washed its hands of its Christian past. Its obsession with being secular go hand in hand with rampant xenophobia and racism which would hardly welcome the millions of persecuted Christians of the Middle East, despite already vibrant diaspora communities of Copts, Assyrians and Lebanese Christians in the west. In this South Sudan may provide a partial sanctuary, as a largely Christian country which has successfully fought the ravages of radical Islam and intolerant strains of Arab nationalism. It would also benefit from the skills and knowledge brought to it by communities who not only value it but also used to help their host countries long before dictators such as Nasser surrounded themselves with sycophants and yes-men which stifled free thought, creativity and dynamism. South Sudan can then rebuild the vibrant societies which once existed in the region, where minorities had a respected role and where liberal values seemed to provide hope for a better future. That would also send a beacon of hope for the little known persecuted liberals who have been crushed by the vice like grip of Ba’athism, Nasserism, Salafism and other such ideologies which are the antithesis of liberty.
Symbolic of the overthrow of Gaddafi’s regime in Libya this week was the iconic photo showing the colonel’s head, cut off from the rest of the statue, with shoes placed on it as a sign of maximum disrespect. When the Arab revolutions began with long-time despots ousted in Tunisia and Egypt, and with continuing disturbances in Yemen and Syria, Colonel Gaddafi appeared to be one of the most entrenched. But as well as his surprising political demise more shocking revelations have come to the fore. That mass graves have been discovered may not come as much of a shock for such is the nature of brutal despots. Perhaps most jaw-dropping was the lavish palatial surroundings in which Gaddafi lived, exploding the myth that he had the frugal lifestyle of a desert nomad and resided in a tent. Instead the luxury in which he wallowed far outweighed anything enjoyed by Idris, the monarch whom he overthrew in 1969. This was of course done in the name of “the people” as all coups and revolutions tend to be to validate their unlawful enterprise. But as will all such high minded propaganda and emotive rhetoric this degenerated into a brutal dictatorship with intolerance of divergent opinion, meaningful policies and demographic diversity all glued together by virulent anti-Semitism, much as it had in neighbouring Egypt ruled by Gaddafi’s youthful hero Nasser. Unlike his mentor however Gaddafi had the benefit of vast oil revenues on which to mask over his totalitarian regime and engage in maverick contradictory policies. Hailed by the Left as a spokesman for the Third World, Libya funded the ANC fight against apartheid in South Africa, and was one of the leading lights in African unity. Yet Gaddafi also backed rebels in Chad and African migrants to Libya sometimes found themselves at the brunt of horrific racism including violence. He managed to simultaneously fund the IRA in Britain and also the neo-Nazi style National Front.
Will the new revolution in Libya meet the same fate that infected Gaddafi’s promises back in 1969? While it is unclear for now the signs are not hopeful. Civil society has been effectively destroyed. The infrastructure is crumbling. Tribal frictions as much as years of pent up frustration are bursting forth like trapped magma. Democratic institutions and pluralism take generations to build up. The present vacuum does not auger well for Libya, especially if the signs of hope are also being extinguished as the Arab Spring turns into the Long March into yet another cold dark Arab Ice Age. Into this creep the well organised and determined Salafists something which unfortunately we must now be prepared for.
Saturday, 27 August 2011
Friday, 26 August 2011
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Monday, 22 August 2011
Saturday, 20 August 2011
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: Vincentfirstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Rev. Rashid Gill 416-569-8154, Email:email@example.com
Friday, 19 August 2011
Alfred Arifa - Drugged, kidnapped, allegedly married, raped, beaten and locked away! Sound familiar?
Police insouciance if not reticence to get involved in theses cases, has made such activity a primary habit for men of loose morals or those with a fundamentalist agenda.
I could spend all day naming innocent victims like Farah Hatim, Mariam Gill or poor 2 year old Neha - who has devloped long term physical defects and still suffers trauma, as a consequence of the pernicious attack on her at such a young and vulnerable age.
It is very disheartening that despite the efforts of so many humanitarian groups, the situation for minority groups in Pakistan has altered so little. Many could argue that the intensity and frequency of incidents has worsened in recent years. Yet this is where we are and we must all continue the campaign for justice!
The recent video of the successful exit of Neha and her family from tyrannical Pakistan to Canada is a story of success that fills my heart with joy. However, such escapes are few and the majority of sufferers are still in hiding, many of whom obtain little support.
The latest story is one with so many similar facets, Kidnap, rape forced marriage, torture and ignorant Police are themes that serve to create nausea in any person with a modicum of moral fibre.
The pain continues....
Please pray for all the young single and married women from minorities in Pakistan. They are never safe from the widespread depravities that exist in a country that has lost connection with it's original passions, ideologies and beliefs. Pray for their safety, their strength in adversity and
for God's watchful eye of protection to remain over them.
Here is Agenzia Fides report on the latest victim:
Another case of a Pakistani Christian girl kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam was reported to Fides by the Pakistani Christians Association in Italy.
Alfred Arifa is a 27-year old Catholic girl, from Nawa Killi, Quetta, who was kidnapped by a Muslim man, Amjad, in May 2009. The man was helped by two accomplices to coordinate the pre-planned kidnapping. We are talking about two of Arifa's trusted friends, Lubna and Rebecca. She went to Rebecca's house where she was given drugs in a cup of tea.
Once she fell unconsciousness, the young woman was taken away by Amjad. When Arifa returned to her senses she found herself in Amjad's house. Amjad told her that she had converted to Islam and had married him, showing her a fake marriage certificate.
Arifa denied that she had converted to islam, much less to have married him, since she was unconsciousness. To overcome the resistance on behalf of the girl, Amjad subjected her to mental and physical torture. Arifa was constantly drugged, severly beaten and locked in the house for two years. Arifa attempted to escape several times.
The night before August 1, Amjad had beaten Arifa severly, causing other internal injuries. On August 1, she found for the first time in two years the front door of the house unlocked. Although seriously injured, she did not fail to take advantage of the opportunity; She escaped from the house. She took a rickshaw and went to the Civil Hospital, where she was given primary treatment. She then went to her brother Adnan.
The woman then filed a complaint against Amjad, but the police has done nothing so far to bring the culprit to justice. On the other hand, the police inspector said he was happy that Arifa had converted to Islam.
Now Arifa and her family are on the run to save their lives since they have received death threats from Amjad. Amjad says that Arifa is a Muslim and his wife. For this reason she cannot run away from home, otherwise she will be killed along with her family. On the other hand Arifa states: "I am a Christian and have always remained steadfast in my Christian faith and continued to pray to Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary in my heart for liberation during these two years of imprisonment".
Egypt Prayer Evenings 2011
Join CSW and United Action for Egyptian Christians to pray for the nation of Egypt at this crucial time in the nation’s history.
We’ll gather to pray for the nation, for the upcoming elections and for Egypt’s religious minorities in a time of increased attacks against them.
With an informal feel to them, each evening will include updates from CSW and UAFEC, with firsthand news from contacts in Egypt, and lots of time for prayer and worship.
If you’re not in London, we’d still love you to get involved and gather locally to pray so that we have a nationwide prayer chain for Egypt this year.
Wednesday 24 August
London Network Church
131 East Acton Lane
London W3 7HB
Each event starts at 7.30pm and we’ll aim to finish by 9.30pm.
Original weblink : http://www.csw.org.uk/prayforegypt.htm
Thursday, 18 August 2011
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Ashfaq Munawar another Karachi Christian Attacked for his belief!
I received disturbing news of a man attacked simply for being Christian. This is another attack from the lawless city of Karachi. It is about time the Pakistan Government recognised their responsibility to protect all their citizens. I call on those reading this story to contact your MP's or statesmen from your home countries and to call for a concerted effort to eradicate such obvious human right abuses. The writer says he is the brother of the victim and I produce the story prima facie (sic):
Ashfaq is seriously injured, he has fractures on both jaws, and he lost 5 teeth.
Today 15th august, when he regained consciousness and informed me about his attack. He said;
"I was coming from Sea View the beach site of Karachi sea, after celebration of our country's Independence Day, ( because people's of all Karachi gathered there and celebrate different event's ). Six Pukhtoon fundamentalists stopped me and they asked me if I were a muslim or Christian, I said I am by birth Christian they said,"Kalma Parho" (read the Kalma it's an important verse for Muslims), and become a muslim. I refused, then they shouted at me. I told them I will never ever become a muslim. Then they beat me badly with iron rods and iron hand clips. When I lay down on the floor they thought I had died and they fired into the air with heavy weapons, and also crushed my motor bike with iron rods. They left me alone there as they made a getaway due to the attention the gunfire had caused. Police arrived at the scene they also beat me and took my motor bike to the Police station. They left me alone there. Fortunately one of my neighbour was going from that way he put me on Taxi and brought me home".
I request to all my Christian friends, brothers, and sisters kindly pray for my brother and my family, because we are in trouble my entire family is tense and our organization members are very depressed...
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
ENI-11-0421By Anto Akkara
According to the Tribune story, a member of the JIT team claims that two or three of the murderers converted to Islam and fled Pakistan.The report also quoted the official as saying that while names of the culprits have not been identified yet, "we will approach Interpol for their arrest."
Ecumenical News International, PO Box 2100CH - 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland