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Tuesday 30 April 2013

Redbridge Easter Parade Survey

If you attended The Redbridge Easter Parade 2013. Please share your experiences and success by compeleting the survey link given below:

UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion on belief shares views on Global persecution

Mr Heiner Bielefeldt - United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide organised a event at the London School of Economics (Thursday 25th April 2013)  at which the special rapporteur of Religious freedom for the United Nations, described his work and the ongoing persecution faced by religious minorities globally.  Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the BPCA was invited to attend.

During his lecture to the humanitarian groups and academics present, MR Heiner Bielefeldt was asked about whether he believed that secular states within the Western world - where religious freedom is seen to be prevalent - was a direct consequence of the more egalitarian concepts within Christianity, the dominant religion in this region.  He said;

"No, such freedoms have been conflict-driven"  and described the nature of the protestant reforms and the sacrifices made by so many, against the tyranny imposed by zealots within Europe, that has led to modern day pluralistic societies with acceptance of 'Other' faiths.  

Wilson Chowdhry said;

"Mr Bielefeldt proved to be a well informed and passionate advocate for justice.  During a conversation with him after the event, he intimated real concern at the ongoing maltreatment of 'Minorities' living in Pakistan. He has agreed to read our recent report termed "the Targeting of Minority 'Others' in Pakistan" and we  have duly sent him a copy to review."

Wilson added;

"The non-attribution of equality in the west to the Christian faith was a pivotal moment in the discussion.  It was impressive that MR Bielefedlt enunciated this in a Christian led event and in so doing, provided a glimmer of hope for Pakistan.  Pakistan now enters a phase of politics unbeknown to them, where they may for the first time in their history observe two consecutive democratic governments.  It will take strong reformists and committed politicians much like Britain's famous Oliver Cromwell (of old), to bring about the necessary change to create a fairer society.  Let's hope that the electorate alter their usual voting patterns next month during Pakistan's General elections.  If they ignore tribal allegiances and opt for candidates with strong manifestos focused on delivering a more conscientious society, this could be the first step to a more desirable Pakistan."

Professor Heiner Bielefeldt was appointed United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief in 2010. He is a German philosopher, historian and theologian who studied at Bonn University, Tübingen University and the University of Bremen. He is Professor of Human Rights and Human Rights Policy at the University of Erlangen. From 2003 to 2009, Bielefeldt served as Director of the German Institute for Human Rights, which monitors the human rights situation inside Germany. Since 2009, Bielefeldt has served as professor in the newly created Chair of Human Rights and Human Rights Policy at the University of Erlangen. He has published widely in academic journals, most recently with Human Rights Quarterly and the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion.

Wilson Chowdhry and Matthew Jones from CSW.

Wilson with the Special Rapporteur.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

MP's of Holland consider special status for Christian Asylum Seekers from Pakistan

Mehran Baluch (Representative of Ethnic Baluch Communities) and Wilson Chowdhry (BPCA), key experts describe persecution in Pakistan.

Dutch MP's offered to consider special status for Christian asylum seekers and refugees fleeing extremism in Pakistan, after hearing a report from Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association on Tuesday 16th April 2013.

The special procedure meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Dutch House of representatives, was presided over by MP Pieter Omtzigt, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson for the Christian Democratic Party, after a request from Mosa Zaher of London based NGO New East Observatory.

During the one hour public meeting an adress was also made by Mehran Baluch, Representative of Ethnic Baluch Communities, detailing the kidnap and murder of many Baluchistani dissidents calling for sovereignty of the Baluchistani state which they believe to have been occupied territory since 1948.

During the discussion following the original opening statements by the two experts, MP's asked how their Government might assist suffering minorities in Pakistan.  Wilson Chowdhry called for MP's to set clauses linked to foreign aid budgets, to lever change in the existing poor human rights record of Pakistan.  Currently Holland contributes £20 million to Pakistan.

Wilson Chowdhry asked for MP's to conduct some unsupervised visits to Pakistan, as he felt that supervised visits co-ordinated by the Pakistan Government, inexorably resulted in rose-tinted perceptions, of the quality of life for minorities living there.

MP Pieter Omtzigt replied;  "I have visited Pakistan on a visiting visa, and am aware of the real situation faced by Christians." MP Omtzigt  continued to describe the squalour and maltreatment of Christians, he met during that revealing visit to various Christian institutions.  He asked the BPCA to provide a potential list of groups that might be visited during future visits.

Wilson Chowdhry sought special status for Pakistani Christian asylum seekers to Holland, during his report where he described the controversial reluctance for Austrlia and the UK's Border Agency to accept such applications.  MP Omtzigt replied that Holland had recently approved special status for homosexual and Ahmadiyyah Asylum applications and asked for a copy of the BPCA's recent full report on "targeting of Minority 'Others' in Pakistan.  The report will be used to guide Dutch Parliamentarians in a debate on the worthiness of such policy.

The BPCA has already emailed an electronic copy of our report to MP Omtzigt, in response to the request.

After the meeting Wilson Chowdhry said;

"Pakistani authorities have failed to protect vulnerable minorities, the human rights performance of the country has reached a nadir. Despite foreign aid support from several western nations palpable change is non-existent.  The only tangible lever for change western nations have within their political armoury, is the linking of foreign aid budget with clauses that require visible and transparent improvements in the quality of life for Pakistani minorities.  I hope our meeting with Dutch Parliamentarians results in such policy, if not we will all be revisiting the same concerns frequently in the future."

He added:

"Our comprehensive report on persecution in Pakistan is over 500 pages long.  It has been meticulously written and one third of the report is dedicated to the suffering of the Christian Minority.  We firmly believe that the content validates a need for special status for asylum cases from Pakistani Christians.  We have sent a copy to MP Omtzigt and pray that during their debate on such policy, preferred status will be adopted by Holland."

A live stream video for the discussion can be viewed here:

Dutch MP's spoke of concern about the treatment of Christians and other Minorities in Pakistan.

Wilson called for special status for Christian Asylum Seekers fleeing  Pakistan

Mosa Zaher (Near East Observatory), Wilson Chowdhry, Mehran Baluch and Paulo Casaca (South Asian Democratic Forum)

Monday 15 April 2013

Dutch Parliamentarians keen to learn about Minority persecution in Pakistan.

Dutch Parliamentarians and Civil servants will be addressed on the human rights violations of ethnic minorities in Pakistan on Tuesday 16th April 2013.

A London Based Group the "Near East Observatory" organised the public meeting, after a series of recent extremist attacks on innocent communities in Pakistan, including the razing of 200 homes and 2 churches in the town of Badami Bagh (9th March 2013).

Mr Pieter Omtzigt, MP and foreign affairs spokesperson of the Christian Democrats, will receive,  two experts, including Wilson Chowdhry; Chairman of the BPCA and Mehran Baluch; Representative of Ethnic Baluch Communities, during a special procedure of the foreign affairs committee of the Dutch House of Representatives.    The meeting is open to public and the BPCA's trip has been funded by the South Asian Democratic Forum.

Wilson Chowdhry of the BPCA said;

"We are grateful for this opportunity to raise concerns about ongoing human rights violations against minorities in Pakistan, with the decision makers for the Nation of Holland.  We hope that our evidence will assist the Dutch government in pursuing a dialogue with Pakistan, that will eventually improve the quality of life for minorities living there."

He added;

"A report we produced, convinced the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada to reassess the manner in which they view Asylum and refugees cases relating to Christians fleeing Pakistan.  If  decision makers in Holland follow suit, much needed succour could be provided to many suffering victims."

Below are hyperlinks to the work undertaken with the Canadian IRB, including further hyperlinks to a series of reports produced by the Canadian IRB on Pakistan:

Friday 12 April 2013

Christian boys seize Guinness world record!

Daniel and Qammar receive the award
Two Pakistani Christian boys from Lahore, Daniel Gill and Qammar Rizwan, have received certification for holding the Guinness World Record for consecutive headers, totaling 335 in just under 5 minutes.  They broke the world record last year at the Punjab Youth Festival event.

The BPCA would like to congratulate them.


Wednesday 10 April 2013

Sawan Masih bail petition filed!

Here is an update on Sawan Masih's Case provided by Mushtaq Gill of Lead (sic):

LAHORE:Today 10 April,2013,LEAD has filed bail petition for Sawan Masih and followed his case.

Lawyers for Sawan Masih, a Christian accused of blasphemy and jailed, are hopeful for his bail. He has a petition for bail scheduled to be heard on 15th April 2013, in the Session Court of Lahore.

An Additional District and Sessions Court last week on Tuesday 2 April,2013 handed over copies of case record to Sawan Masih, an accused of blasphemy Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill was present in the Court.The court had adjourned the proceedings till April 15 2013. Sawan is likely to be indicted on the next hearing. It is said the Joseph Colony arson had happened after the alleged blasphemy by Sawan Masih. The police had booked Sawan under 295 C PPC.

A 35-year-old Pakistani Christian street sweeper, Sawan Masih, who has been accused of blasphemy by a close friend, is now awaiting for justice in his bail petition.

Today 10 April,2013 Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill National Director of LEAD along with Sawan's family members visited Sawan in Camp jail Lahore and prayed with him.Sawan's mother,sisters and brothers wept bitterly when they met with Sawan Masih.They are very happy to see and visit Sawan Masih specailly his sister and mother.

According to the FIR story there is not any word by which the allegation under section 295 C PPC was made out, but after given of the second written application to SP Investigation City Devision by Complainant Shahid Imram mentioned that Swan said "Our Jesus will come back again and must come back,and He is the Son of God" and said SOME DEROGATORY WORDS about PROPHET OF ISLAM" which is after thought and consultation,which makes the story of the prosecution highly doubtful, said Gill.

Redbridge Easter Parade a huge success!

Images courtesy of Ilford Recorder.

The BPCA organised the first ever Easter Parade and Festival in the London Borough of Redbridge.  The event which was held on Easter day was supported by the majority of town Centre churches and special thanks go to all the following:

City Gates Church
Eden Christian Centre
Grace Church
High Road Baptist Church
Kings Church
Ilford Methodist Church
St Andrews Church
Vine United Reform Church

These churches either supported us financially or provided volunteers or assistance.

Over 250 people joined our procession that set off from Cranbrook Baptist Church on time at 14:00.  An initial procession of around 50 participants increased to a fairly large group and reached it's maximum by the time we entered the town centre.  

Congregations across the borough advertised our event through their respective church newsletters.  Despite the cold weather and busy personal schedules of  local Christians who would have attended morning services, the turnout was substantial. Christians of all diversities were represented and the mix of women, men, children, black, white and Asian Christians was a wonderful spectacle and representation of God's kingdom in Redbridge.

Children prepared slogans that were shouted during the procession including a congregational favourite "Jesus the Messiah, No-one else is higher!" Songs such as 'In the Name of Jesus' and 'Oh when the Saints' were sung as we marched through the town.  The procession was greeted with cheers and car horns beeping in a supportive fashion.

For an event that began its planning in January and marketing in February (churches were approached form November but were late in committing), this was for all intents and purposes a huge success.  Moreover, the chill weather with a climatic temperature of 2 degrees could not prevent Christians from rejoicing over the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  

The bouncy castle and various stalls at the event attracted many non-Christians many of whom remarked at their joy they felt at being part of our celebrations.  Christian tracts and books were distributed by High Road Baptist Church.

If nothing else the event highlighted the relevancy of Christianity in contemporaneous times and gave us an opportunity to share our faith with other Christians and those of wider faiths.  The unity amongst local pastors and denominations induced a sense of pride within me personally.  To know that our community has so much love for one another and a passion for outreach for non-believers, provided great encouragement that strengthened my faith. Our God is an awesome God he reigns over Heaven and earth and I for one can't wait to serve him next year on a similar event, hopefully on a larger scale.

Thursday 4 April 2013

Continued attacks on Christians of Pakistan - Gujranwala siege so soon after Lahore attack

Islamabad Pakistan (Shamim Masih): On Wednesday, 3 April 2013 afternoon, Wilson asked me to check if something happened against Christians of Gujranwala. I called one of my friends Eugien John in Gujranwala, who confirmed  the incident. So I started my journey with Tariq Chaman (Editor Punjab Express) towards Gujranwala after been given instructed by Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA).

According to Eugien John, a violent Muslim mob attacked  Christian colony named Francis Abad during Wednesday afternoon.

Eugien John said

"A mob damaged shops, houses and vehicles belonging to the Christians of the area following a clash between the youths of the two communities last night. It’s interesting that some of the Christian boys provided resistance and prevented another tragedy. Despairingly the police stood back as bystanders for over two hours, while mosque speakers were used to ferment hate"

Before  leaving from Islamabad, I asked Basharat Khokhar (Police Constable and Christian Activist) to keep in touch with the police high official. He spoke to them and remained in touch whilst covering the incident.

On reaching there, Saif Ullah Virk - SHO of the local police station spoke to us, he said,

"Two boys from the Christians community were confronted by  local Muslims boys for playing Christian songs while travelling in a Chand Gari ( motorcycle led rickshaw).  The incident escalated when the Muslim youths called their friends to the scene and informed the local clerics.  What followed was a renewed attack on minorities."

A violent Muslim mob mainly of youths and young men attacked a Christian locality in Francis abad, Sheikhupura road Gujranwala.  They caused damage to shops, houses and vehicles belonging to the local Christians. As word spread of the incident and a stand off - after Christian Youths formed a protective barrier, the Police intervened and stopped the affray becoming another Badami Bagh incident.

Mr Mushtaq a prominent local residents said;

“Our boys were travelling by chand gari and playing religious songs (geet), Muslim boys objected to their playing music on chand gari. The boys turned off the music at that moment but switched it on again after covering some distance. The cleric raised a clamor and accused the boys of showing disrespect to Islam. As words spread of the incident, we immediately went to the police post in our colony and shared our security concerns with them. The police told us not to worry and assured us that they would hold the situation but no measures were taken,” 

Pastor Morris from FGA church said;

"Around 2pm, a Muslim mob from the nearby Naroki village attacked the neighborhood, ransacking shops, houses and around 5-7 vehicles parked on the road. We saw a police mobile vehicle in the area at a check post.  Although parked in the vicinity the Police vehicle did not intervene and let the mob damage our property,”

He further commented;

"The mob dispersed after local Christians took out their weapons and started firing in the air to deter them."

Father Shakil said;

"After playing the role of a silent spectator, the police took action and resorted to aerial firing and hurling stones indiscriminately at the mob to disperse it. The mob also pelted stones back at the police."

Shamoon s/o Inayat, Asher s/o Aashiq, Marqas Javaid and Rani Joseph were injured during the incident and were taken to the nearest hospital. We remained there till 2 am.  A heavy police presence is stationed in the area to keep the situation under control. Christian youngsters (volunteers) were also patrolling there. So far the situation is under control but there is significant fear that violence will erupt in the area again as threats have been made to the community.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

UK's first Christian Sitcom!

All 13 episodes of the UK’s first Christian sitcom will be aired on TWR UK from 6th April to 29th June 2013.

‘Grandpa Ted’ is a fresh and original sitcom which brings encouragement and inspiration to its audience in a thought-provoking but often light-hearted and entertaining way. There is a distinct shortage of Christian material that provides an uplifting alternative to the other forms of radio and TV comedy that many Christians would rather avoid. This sitcom plugs the gap by helping us to laugh at Grandpa Ted and his friends and more importantly at ourselves in a fun and wholesome setting that will amuse and not offend.

The series follows the life of Grandpa Ted, a likeable old gent who simply wants to enjoy a quiet life. This very rarely becomes a reality however due to the crazy schemes and frustrating interruptions of his fellow house group members – not to mention the problems he causes for himself! Join our easily confused hero as he tries his best to live out God’s principles while he gets mistaken for an eminent doctor, goes fishing in a postbox, has to find a missing tortoise and even accidently foils a bank robbery! Find out why Grandpa Ted ends up like Paul and Silas in prison, hear how forgiveness is always the way forward even if it hurts and discover, at long last, what God Rocks really are!

Meet the ever-meddling Mrs. Bigglesthwaite, the tired but wise Albert, the sensitive and shy Jane, the elusive Bill, the pedantic Mr. Perkins and his easily distracted wife and Jason, the house group leader who never quite seems to keep their meetings under control. Then there is also the local police Sergeant who always manages to turn up just when Grandpa Ted and the others are having their most embarrassing moments from getting stuck in wheelie bins to crashing a car through his own garden wall!

This pioneering series will begin airing on Saturday 6th April at 11am (repeated at 11pm.) 

Website: Twitter: TWRuk

Trans World Radio, an international Gospel network, broadcasts over 1800 hours in 200 languages and dialects each week from 15 primary transmitting sites around the world, by continent-wide satellite networks, over thousands of local stations, and via the Internet. An international staff serves in more than 70 countries.  Trans World Radio Ltd. is a non-profit-making company Limited Company No 782348 and a Registered Charity in England No 233363.