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Wednesday 26 February 2014

Appeal for Young people for Caste discrimination project in the UK

Dr Roger Green, Goldsmiths, University of London, and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, India in undertaking a research project investigating young peoples personal views and experiences of caste identity and caste discrimination in the UK and India. The research is being funded by the Indian Council of Social Sciences.

They are seeking young people for their research project.  Dr Samson Ovicegan, Researcher for the Centre for Community Engagement Research
Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies, at Goldsmiths, University of London said; 

"We are aiming to interview young people who are aged between 18 and 21 years of age either individually or as a group as part of this research. The interviews will probably last between 45 – 60 minutes and all information given will be treated in the strictest confidence. We would undertake the interviews at a time and location convenient to the young people."

He added;

"The research project has been given ethical approval here at Goldsmiths, University of London and TISS."

Please get back to the BPCA if you have any questions etc regarding the research or would like to be involved.

Taliban kill Christian cousin of convert

BPCA has learnt that a young Christian girl was killed by the Taliban somewhere in the mountainous northern region of Pakistan.  The girl, known by the pseudonym 'Lily', had spent months on the run with her cousin, who had converted from Islam to Christianity a number of years ago.  The Taliban finally caught up with them last Monday.  'J', the convert, managed to escape but 'Lily' took the bullet that was meant for him.  Now J is still on the run, but alone, grieving for his cousin.  

Pray for 'J' and his safety and deliverance.  

Monday 17 February 2014

Interfaith marriage causes Valentines day heart attack to tortured father of Bridegroom!

By – Shamim Masih

ISLAMABAD:  On 11th February 2014,22 years old Asim Saleem (rickshaw driver) parked his three wheeled vehicle and went out of his house. He went to see his girl friend, Sunair (20yrs) of a Muslim background. He intended to marry her but his parents kept thwarting him and demanded that he avoid Sunair. The couple decided to take the bold step of cross-faith marriage a dangerous ambition in Paksitan, and got married that same day in their local court.

 Asim Saleem didn’t involve his parents while marrying the girl. So the couple eloped and travelled away from their families to marry secretly in court. On the very same day, religious leaders informed of the marraige by Sunair's family went to the Christian community where MR Saleem lived and demanded recovery of the Muslim girl. Mr Saleem's family members and others in the Christian community were unaware about the elopement and marriage and requested some time to investigate.   but they couldn’t find them during the given time period. It seems a short period was permitted to the community.

Muslims under the leadership of Qari Sohail Iqbal (local prayer leader) returned on the 13th February 2014 and warned themlocal people that if they couldn’t produce the couple; a Muslim mob would return and sat ablaze their homes, they wrned residents that people would be executed in retribution.  

A few terrified Christian found the courage to inform the local administration, about this critical situation.  Police were on alert and ready to supress any violence. On Friday, 14 February 2014, after Jumma prayers, a large mob of extremists travelled to the Christian enclave intending to vandalise peoples homes and cause terror. Local police however,  surrounded the homes of Christians of Nazareth Colony. Christian’s inhabitants of the said colony fled the homes for safety as soon as a precaution against further attempts.  

In a bizarre twist of events, the local police have filed a case against Mr Saleem. They have registered a case under first investigation report FIR – 114/14 against the Christian male, under sections of abduction and enforced matrimony, PP 265 – B.  A further allegation has been made against him for theft of Rs. 54000/ and gold of 5 grams.  It is belived these allegations are false.   The police have arrested two Christian men Bashir Masih 50, and Shaukat Masih 35 who are the cousin and the father of the accused.  Both were allegedly tortured and forced to make a confession admitting to be involved in taking hostage the Muslim girl.

Saleem Masih (father of the accused) died of a heart attack whilst in custody.  The Investigating Officer – IO, Muhammad Shabbir, stated that  police kept these two persons for their own good and well being.  He advised that all action taken was for the safety of Christian community.

 for they have to show them that the administration have kept those two, to convince the extremists. Later they were released, when I meet them; I saw that they were being tortured during police custody. (Photos attached) 

Findings: Asim Saleem is son of Saleem Masih living in Nazareth Colony, Faisalabad District. About 25 years back Roman Catholics planned Nazareth Colony to for the better living for Christians. With the passage of time, it becomes populated with a Muslim majority.  A small Christian population remains within a few streets. There are about 600 – 700 Christian families living among thousands of  Muslims. Most of the residents are working for the municipality as sweepers or laborers. The education rate for Christians is very low and like this family. Saleem Masih; was a rickshaw driver and had five sons and one daughter. When I went there on Sunday, the Roman Catholic Church was locked.  Residents informed me that the father usually held services once a month. There I found another church Victory Church International Ministries; and I attended the memorial service of the deceased. 

Christian girls are abducted, forcefully converted to Islam and married to influential Muslims, but police do not file any case against Muslims. If a Muslim girl marries a Christian boy willingly, extremists arrive to vandalize the Christian communities.         

Thursday 13 February 2014

Conference of World Religions proved to be a surprising force for unity!

Our Chairman Wilson Chowdhry was invited to the "Conference of World Religions" a coming together of leading diplomats, faith leaders and humanitarians, in a spirit of peace and unity.  

The event was co-ordinated by the "Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of the UK"  and was presided over by their supreme spiritual leader Hazarat Mirza Nasroor Ahmad. 

The event attended by over 500 distinguished guests was held at the prestigious and historical Guildhall in London.  

Guest speakers included; Archbishop Kevin McDonald, representing the Catholic Church, Baroness Warsi - Senior Minister of state for the UK Foreign Office, Baroness Berrige - Chair of the UK Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom, Rabbi Professor Daniel Sperber - representing the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Dr Katrina Lantos-Swett - Vice Chair United States Commssion for International Religious Freedom, to name a few.

Wilson Chowdhry of the BPCA said;

"My first experience of this gathering was a positive one.  Presentations from key figures in both the humanitarian and religious sphere, added real weight to this attempt to promote global peace."

He added; 

"Although I am not generally keen on meetings such as these where talks are followed by a meal, the fact remains that solid connections were made with the Ahmadiyyah community, who have offerd to work on our project researching discrimination and persecution within Pakistan's eduction system. If this offer manifests into a tangible result, it will build on the work of both our communities and the wider communities we already have relationship with, promoting tolerance and solidarity."

Further details on the event can be read on this site (Click here).

Monday 10 February 2014

Shanti Nagar Christians remembered by UK church 17 years after being attacked by extremists.

Wilson Chowdhry, Mr and Mrs Saleem Dutt, Martin Bashforth and Lord Mayor of Bradford Khadim Hussain

Saint Andrews Methodist Church, Undercliffe, Bradford held their 16th Shanti Nagar remembrance day, on Sunday 9th February 2014.  The programmes was organised by Martin Bashforth the Senior Circuit Steward for Methodist Churches in Bradford, The Saleem Dutt family who are former residents of Shanti Nagar, their Muslim friend Faisal Khan and the Congregation of St Andrews.

The event was a time of reflection on the violence meted out upon impoverished, vulnerable and innocent Christians, after a false allegation of blasphemy against Muhammad and rumours that Christians in the town had become spies for the "enemy in the West".  The attack saw 4 churches destroyed, 250 homes razed to the ground during a 1000 strong mob attack, that caused in excess of 2500 Christians to flee their homes, only returning weeks later to find all their possessions had been stolen.  A further 16 churches in the local area also suffered severe vandalism.

A guest list representing a variety of faiths and other diversities listened to impassioned speeches calling for peace, unity and tolerance.  Distinguished speakers included;

Program Host:
Faisal Khan, NatWest Bank Manager

Guest list:
Lord Mayor of Bradford, Khadim Hussain
Dean of Bradford Cathedral, Very Reverend Jerry Lepine
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman British Pakistani Christian Association (London)
Hannah Chowdhry
Mohammed Rafiq Sehgal, President of Bradford Council of Mosques
Former Lord Mayor, Mohammed Ajeeb
Former Lord Mayor, councillor Howard Middleton
Former Lord Mayor, councillor Naveeda Ikram
Councillor Mohammed Shafiq 
Councillor Ruth Billheimer
Asif Khan PTI
Shirjeel Malik PTI
Shiraz Akhtar PTI
Qasem Awan Pakistan Society of West Yorkshire
Rizwana Jamil, Bradford Labout party

Martin Bashforth described the annual gift from St Andrews Church, that provides medical treatment and other social support to people in the impoverished community of Shanti Nagar.  He read a modern version of the parable of the Good Samaritan and called for better unity amongst people of all faiths.  Images of the destitution and poverty of the Shanti Nagar people highlighted the need for constant aid.

Mayor of Bradford Kahdim Hussain lit a candle to remember victims of Shanti Nagar.  He described the heinous attack on the innocent community, as the work of extremists that represent no faith.

Wilson Chowdhry an invited guest speaker described how Christians supported the formation of Pakistan from the outset.  When a stalemate in the assembly vote for joining Pakistan occurred (in which all 4 Christians MP's voted for Pakistan), the decision lay with the speaker of the house, SP Singha - a Christian. He declared in favour of the formation of Pakistan.  This pivotal decision allowed the process of secession, as without Punjab the land mass and population of Pakistan would simply have been too small for consideration.  How would he feel now, to see how his people are now treated?  Mohammed Ali Jinnah the founder of Pakistan  promised a free society where all could worship the faith of their choosing, free of state interference.

Wilson said;  "A succession of extremist powers within Pakistan have shattered that original vision.  They have created biased laws and a constitution that is Islamist precluding Christians from senior national roles. This has created a vulnerability for Christians and other minorities who are often caricatured and demonised within school text books and extremist media."

Wilson described some current legal positions in Pakistan.  

In November 2013 Younis Masih was released after being incarcerated on false blasphemy charges since 2005, the holistic objections to Rimsha Masih an 11 year old child with a severe mental condition, caused senior Islamic clerics within Pakistan to support her release.  She was eventually released on bail for a large sum and escaped to Canada.  Whilst abroad she was finally exonerated. Theses positive moves were countered by a regressive decision in December, by the Federal Sharia Court of Pakistan - the religious court that examines whether the law of Pakistan complies with Islamic Sharia Law.  They have called for an end to Life sentences for Blasphemers in favour of a straight death sentence.  Whether this law is sanctioned through Parliament or not, it will certainly stir up more hatred towards minorities and trigger further attacks.

Wilson Chowdhry added;

"Every glimmer of hope for minorities is tarnished by overt acts of legalised intolerance.  Victims such as Asia Bibi remain incarcerated under false blasphemy charges, and victims such as those from Shanti Nagar, have seen perpetrators escape justice and have had to rely on aid donations from international groups such as St Andrews Church, after being overlooked by the Government elected to protect them.  I thank St Andrews Church for their annual gift to Shanti Nagar and their anniversary events that serve to highlight the ongoing maltreatment of minorities and promote global unity."

Hannah Chowdhry (10 yrs)  repeated words spoken by founder of Pakistan Mohammed Ali Jinnah, during his speech at the Constituent Assembly in Lahore, 11th August 1947;

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

Lord Mayor of Bradford Khadim Hussain lights a candle for victims of Shanti Nagar.

Hannah Chowdhry reads words spoken by Muhammad Ali Jinnah the founder of Pakistan, during his speech at the Constituent Assembly August 11th 1947.

Over 200 people packed the church in Bradford.

Wilson Chowdhry called for people of good conscience to set the hearts to bring peace in their communities.

Dean of Bradford the Very Reverend Jerry Lepine.

Mrs Dutt and two children with messages of peace.

Martin Bashforth reads a modern depiction of the story of the Good Samaritan.

Assembled visitors hold banner for Shanti Nagar.

People of all faiths came together in unity calling for an end to intolerance.

Saleem Dutt described the current situation in Pakistan.

Mohammed Rafiq Sehgal, President of Bradford Council of Mosques.

Friday 7 February 2014

Layyah Protest over Girl Abducted!

Punjab:The Christian family from Layyah staged a protest in front of Lahore Press club along with other Christian leaders and demanding justice from Punjab Government.
This latest case involves a sixteen year old gilr,  Ms Samariya, from Chak 270 TDA, Layyah District.   Ms.Samariya was abducted  on her way to school 1st of January 2014.  She was later forcibly married to a rich Muslim landlord.

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.

The family filed a complaint at Layyah Police Station which was registered FIR No 14/14, under Section 365 B PPC.  

Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill,a human rights Defender and Chief of LEAD, has appealed to Punjab Chief Minister, Mian Shahbaz Sharif to take action and return Samariya to her parents.  He is also calling for legal proceedings against her abductor.

"There are many similar examples of young Christian women and girls forcefully converted and married to Muslim landlords.  These girls are the kept as slaves and often after a period of time, killed by burning,"
said Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill.

Mr Gill  added (sic);

"One other incident took place on 29 January, 2014, when one Christian woman brick kiln worker, namely Ms.Salamatay Bibi 48 years age and her son, Mr.Arshad Masih alias Papu and his family, and two others, were “brutally beaten along with their families including women, and children” by local brick kiln owner and six “unknown” persons, and later were forcibly taken to his Brick Kiln“with the threat of weapons.”

Tuesday 4 February 2014

We all have our crosses to bear!

A re-enactment of the Christ's walk to Golgotha took place in Ilford today.  Wilson Chowdhry Chairmn of the BPCA was asked to play the role of Jesus in the performance by the panel of the Redbridge Easter Parade.  Several members including Pastor Bryon of Eden Christian Centre, pelted Wilson with stones in an attempt to remind local people of the severity of pain suffered by Christ, whilst taking the burden of our sins upon him. ~ Wilson thinks they were too rough. ~

The event was photographed by the Ilford Recorder, Yellow Advertiser and Wanstead and Woodford Guardian, who will all be writing articles encouraging attendance at this years event on the 21st of April 2014 - Easter Monday.    

If you are a Christian performer or group that would like to take part please contact Wilson Chowdhry using the following  details.  Email or tel: 020 8514 0861.

Monday 3 February 2014

Bring rioters of St Joseph's to trial!

LEAD,in June,2013,had petitioned the Lahore High Court to cancel the bail of  Extremists who were allegedly involved in anti-Christian violence in Joseph Colony,Bedami Bagh Lahore.

On 22 January,2014,the DB (Double Bench) ,consisting of Honorable Justice Mr.Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Honorable Justice Mr.Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah,  passed an order that the petition should be admitted. 

He described the attack on St Josephs Colony as an occurrence which resulted in a very bad image for Pakistan, as an unsafe place for minorities.  He also ordered that the accused appear in court on the next date of hearing. The case was adjourned and next date of hearing will be fixed in the office.

The 36 key suspects were among 83 radicals/fundamentalists granted bail in May 2013, from Anti-Terrorism Court No II.  This bail was granted,despite evidence they were involved in the riot and arson attack of more than 180 Christian-homes, shops and two churches.  They also instigated serious looting form all these properties.   

The attack was initiated after false allegations were made of derogatory blaspehmous  remarks made about the prophet Muhammad, by a Christian man Savan Masih. Mr Masih had denied the blasphemy allegation butis still incarcerated and awaiting for justice.

"We are deeply concerned about the safety of blasphemy victims such as Asia Bibi, Sawan Masih, Asif Pervaiz, Pastor Adnanher and others  who are in Pakistani jails and are awaiting justice," explained Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill,chief of LEAD.

"We have deep concern about bondage labour and one Christian woman who was brutally beaten and tortured by the owner of brick kiln in Kasur,and for so many cases which remain unreported" added Gill.