Pastor Victor Samuel Maseeh (left), kidnap victim
In the last month there have been numerous cases of false charges against Christians. In one disturbing case, a pastor (seen above last year after helping some destitute Christians gain a home after the rains washed the old one away) was kidnapped by people masquerading as police officials and with a falsified official court order (from a court and a judge who on investigation, didn't exist). 7 armed men arrived at his house in the Christian colony of 300 Christians in Tota Tek Singh, Faisalabad in vehicles similar to those used by the Punjab police, and three of them wore police uniforms, and one said he was a police inspector from Lahore, and showed search warrants from a Lahore judge, complete with official court stamps. After abusively questioning the pastor, looking at files on his laptop, the imposters took the pastor and his brother for further questioning in a local police station as well as confiscating, documents, the laptop and mobile phone. However, they dropped off his brother by the Gojra bypass. It later turned out that the local police station never had any colleagues from Lahore, and the Lahore police never sent any group out. In addition, the Judicial Magistrate named in the 'court documents' was found not to exist. Police are now searching for the pastor and the abductors - let's hope and pray the fraudulent use of police and court documents means this will be a thorough and uncompromising search.
An earlier story about the pastor helping out destitute Christians so desperate that the father resorted to putting 'children for sale' signs up - and a video interview with the pastor and the father he helped.
PRIEST ACCUSED OF KILLING AFGHAN WOMEN IN PROPERTY ROW
A priest, Rehmat Hakim Michael, in Islamabad, pastor of the Fatima church, is at the centre of false accusations and a decade old property row. The priest, who came to the church in 2007 was accused with another individual of kidnapping and killing the wife and two daughters of an Afghan man in 2001, even though at the time Father Michael was serving in Gujrat. The claim was that after the women refused to convert to Christianity, they were kidnapped by Father Michael and his 'gang' and never seen again - presumably murdered and their bodies disposed of.
(The BPCA notes that this kind of activity is typical of Islamicists - and that often they falsely accuse Christians of doing the very things that Islamicists do, in a kind of projection. An example is the recent false accusations that Coptic Christians in Egypt kidnapped women and stored explosives and weapons in monasteries and churches, acts that Egyptian Islamicists regularly carry out on Christian women and in their own mosques - false accusations that led to fatal attacks on churches in Egypt and a massacre at a church service in Iraq.)
A FIR was in the process of being made against him with the police. However, it appears that the police this time decided to investigate before acting. A telling and rather unsurprising background began to emerge. Firstly, in 1991, a previous priest at the church had allowed a sick and jobless Afghan man to move into a church owned house and to rent out another one to get money for his own upkeep for a while. Successive priests have tried to eject them, but the occupants, now apparently a strong and influential family in the locality, refused, claiming that the man in question had purchased the property for $30,000 and had full ownership. The case went to court recently and on the 28th of May the court upheld the churches case for a second time on appeal. It was after this that another Afghan man suddenly starts claiming that the incumbent priest kidnapped his family after failed conversion attempts in 2001. An NGO that interviewed the alleged husband said that when questioned, he couldn't remember the name of his supposedly kidnapped wife, and had to go and 'consult documents' before giving a name.
The Christian community is agitated and afraid that, even though he has not been arrested yet, their priest may well be arrested on these blatantly spurious, yet very serious charges.
Please pray for this case, that this blatant attempt at holding the entire Christian community to ransom in a property dispute by extortion would fail and massively backfire on the lying accusers, and that true justice would be done and become an example in similar cases.
VULNERABLE ISLAMIC CONVERT USED TO OPPRESS CHRISTIANS
As we said before, it is typical of Islamicists to accuse their victims of the very crimes they themselves commit against their victims in a perverse projection. In a recent case 150km from Lahore, a recently banned Islamicist group - Sipha-e-Sahaba. They registered a blasphemy complaint against 25 year old Ramzam Masih, an only son (only the father is still alive). (BPCA finds it telling that in Pakistan a complaint registered by a banned terrorist group can be accepted - maybe it helps if the victim is from a powerless Christian background?) An NGO went to investigate, and found the colony where the victims family lived was virtually empty as Christians (and possibly other residents - the reports are not quite clear on this point) had fled in fear of the group using the charges as an excuse to take over property or make other attacks. The NGO team questioned the few neighbours willing to talk. (The NGO also approached the local police who were very angry, allegedly because the NGO endangered their lives because the security situation was so bad, with the banned group following the situation very closely. Eventually the group managed to get a copy of the FIR).
The picture that emerged was one of a mentally retarded and vulnerable man whom the group had cajoled into converting to Islam several years ago, and gained his thumbprints as evidence of conversion. The group has now named many unknown people in their FIR, and the residents fear that the charges are an excuse to take over Christian lands. The victims father is terrified and only met the NGO a long way from his house. He says the police took him to the police station and demanded he hand over his son or else he too would be charged with blasphemy (the son is now in prison). He says he has now idea if his son committed 'blasphemy' a lot, but rightly asked how could a mentally retarded child who didn't know right from wrong 'endanger the dignity of Islam'. He also noted that the S-e-S terrorist group was monitoring his daughters movements as well - so he is concerned for the safety of both his children.
To give a flavour of what Christians face in these situations, here is the account of a Christian woman about what happened, with mobs of Muslims and clerics arriving with burning torches and threatening another Gojra, and the terrible fear such terrorist tactics engender :
we are only eighty houses here and are doing our own work, we are independent and are working hard to survive, these people (Muslims) do not let us live. We are poor but are working hard to survive. On the night of the incidence a mob of Muslim clerics gathered our colony to burn us all because of the Blapshemy Ramzan have committed. Everyone was very scared. We all have small children in our houses and we didn’t know what to do. The Mob surrounded our colony and raised a slogan to burn all the houses, they had torches in their hands and petrol in the cans. We called police and thank God Police arrived just in time. The police distracted their attention from us and we found some time to leave the houses. We left the houses quickly and thus saved our lives. People saved their lives and the lives of their children, Now we all are living in different places of our relatives and our homes are empty like graves. We pray to God not to put us in graves and also to protect the family of Ramzan Masih and his sister who also have small children in her house. We are very scared; I came to my house at this hour to pick up some clothes and personal belongings so that we can stay in the relative’s house. Once this matter is cooled down we will come back to our house
REFUSE TO BECOME MUSLIM? THIEF! TORTURE!
Finally, in yet another 'surprise, surprise, here we go again' case, two Christian employees are being charged with theft after refusing to convert to Islam. The wealthy and influential employer in Karachi had 5 employees working as domestic workers in his household. For a year he aggressively tried to get the two Christian employees to convert to Islam. Some gold ornaments went missing in early June, and 10 days later the employer lodged an FIR about it, which surprisingly enough only named the Christian employees and not the Muslim employees as suspects. The two Christians volunteered themselves to the local police station when they heard of the accusations. They were transferred to another police station, and their relatives were told by police that if they did not pay a bribe of £238, then the two Christians would be beaten. The poor families could not pay the bribe, and so the two Christians were severely beaten and tortured, and one was left unable to walk.
Lawyers have now taken up the case, the Karachi police district has apologized and said the victims families can register an FIR against police staff if they want. Let's hope this is a real gesture that will result in real change and real justice. BPCA is not particularly holding it's breath, but you never know....
Please also pray for the victims, for healing and provision, as well as justice