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Monday 12 March 2012

Singing for Shahbaz

The whole square danced to Hammad Baileys rendition of a Christian song.  
Shahbaz Bhatti would have been proud!

While Hammad Bailey sang Christians of all walks distributed leaflets ensuring a much wider public awareness of Pakistani Christians and the intolerance they suffer.

 A small stage with powerful God inspired performances.  What would Shahbaz Bhatti be thinking as he saw Pakistani Christians performing before Trafalgar Square in his honour?

Muslim Reformist Imam Taj Hargey spoke of the need to curb the unislamic blasphemy laws of Pakistan.

People came out despite predicted cold weather.
God gave warm weather.
Legendary scholar Rev Darrell Hannah a Middle-East expert on Christianity donated £200 to the days event from Christians in Ascot.

Stephen Anjum a former colleague of Shahbaz Bhatti challenged the Pakistan High Commission who simply sent a Security officer to collect the petitions.

The petition submission drew much attention I am sure the Pakistan High Commission felt UK angst against the treatment of Pakistani Christians and other minorities.

Petitioners travelled to 10 Downing Street our Parliamentarians simply need to know the truth.

We marched on to Trafalgar Square led by a bagpiper playing rousing Christians tunes like "Oh When the Saints and Amazing Grace"

Nothing could stop us now and the day gad just begun!

Little Children travelled all the way from Nelson in the North West of England to support the event and honour Shahbaz Bhatti.

John Pontifex an inspirational speaker form ACNUK  gave a message of support from 
Cardinal Keith O'Brien.

Wilson Chowdhry (British Pakistani Christian Association), Lyn Julius (Harif a group that serves Middle-east and African Jews), Faiz Baluch a Muslim seeking an end to terror (Voice of Baluchistan), Jas Uppal a Sikh (Free Sarabjit Singh Campaign, John Pontifex Catholic (ACNUK) and Ranbir Singh leader of the Hindu Human Rights Group.  
All standing together against global injustice and in particular the intolerance in Pakistan.
Last but not least Akhmal Zahid former colleague of Shahbaz Bhatti with two Catholic Nuns.

By John Newton

CROWDS thronged Trafalgar Square on Saturday at a concert calling for religious freedom in Pakistan – and remembering Shahbaz Bhatti who gave his life for that cause.

The concert in Trafalgar Square on 10th March followed the presentation of a petition at 10 Downing Street calling for changes to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which impose sentences including execution and life imprisonment for offences against Islam.

The documents bearing the names of more than 6,000 people were presented at Number 10 by an ecumenical delegation which included Alan Craig of the Christian Peoples Alliance and John Pontifex, from Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

Mr Pontifex, who met Shahbaz Bhatti, said: “For him, the Christian faith, [and] the freedom to express your religion legitimately without undue let or hindrance, was a cause not just worth fighting for – it was a cause worth dying for.”

Mr Bhatti, Pakistan’s first federal minister for minority affairs, was shot dead in March 2011 while travelling to work in Islamabad.

His death followed a high-profile campaign calling for pardon for Asia Bibi, Pakistan’s first woman to be sentenced to death under the country’s blasphemy laws.

The visit to the Prime Minister’s residence on Saturday preceded a three-hour concert in Trafalgar Square raising awareness about human rights violations in Pakistan.

Among the acts was Catholic pop group Ooberfuse who performed their single Blood Cries Out, about the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti.

The track was released on 2nd March 2012, the first anniversary of his assassination.

Speakers included Imam Dr Hargey of the Oxford Islamic Congregation, Reformist Muslim activist Irtshad Manji and Ranbir Singh of the Hindu Human Rights Movement.

Tributes to Shahbaz Bhatti from Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton, chairman of the International Affairs department of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, were also read out at the rally.

Sending his blessing to the gathered assembly Cardinal O’Brien said: “I add my voice to yours calling for real justice for Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan who have been accused of blasphemy.”

He added: “Shahbaz Bhatti was truly a witness, a martyr, and may we also have the courage to testify to what we believe in our own lives as he did.”

In his message to those gathered for the rally, Bishop Lang wrote: “Shahbaz Bhatti had a vision for a more tolerant society, formed by his own deep faith. His heroic witness serves as an inspiration and a challenge to us all.”

The event was organised by the British Pakistani Christian Association in conjunction with Aid to the Church in Need, the charity for persecuted and other suffering Christians.

Organiser and British Pakistani Christian Association chairman Wilson Chowdhry said: 

"Shahbaz Bhatti was a brave advocate for reform of Pakistan's Blasphemy Law. More so than this, he was a man who put his convictions above personal interest in a saintly fashion.  In the end he paid the ultimate sacrifice giving his life for the sake of others".

1 comment:

  1. Thank you UK brothers for coming out and showing solidarity with ur Paki Christian bretherens.