Archive for the ‘Christians in Pakistan’ Category

Christian Minorities are persecuted heavily in Pakistan.

March 19, 2011

A tale of two Pakistanis: The Muslim woman on the left was welcomed
as an immigrant to America 10 years ago, but is complaining of
emotional trauma from having been bumped from an airline flight.
The Christian on the right still lives as a minority in Pakistan and
is just happy to be home after having been chained to a tree,
gang-raped, and ordered to embrace Islam by her kidnappers.

Did Muslim officials conspire against ‘raped’ Christian nurse to deprive her of justice?

By Jawad Mazhar || Christian News Today || Published on 19th March, 2011.

KARACHI, PAKISTAN — A huge controversy has broken out in Pakistan over the case of Magdalene Ashraf, a 23-year-old third-year Christian student nurse at the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre in Karachi, who was allegedly raped by a doctor on July 15, 2010.

Magdalene is the daughter of Ashraf Masih, a poor Christian, who is said to have “dreamed of a good future” for his daughter after her graduation, but then all came crashing down after the alleged rape.

Instead of a rape charge, a case of simple assault was made by the police against Dr. Abdul Jabbar Memon, which falls under section 324 of the country’s Penal Code.

ANS has discovered from an informant who asked not to be named for security reasons, that a “renowned Pakistani hospital” run by the state, had allegedly declared, in its medical examination report, that a semen specimen sent to them was “not that” of the alleged rapist of the virgin Christian trainee nurse, thus depriving her of “justice in this case.”

The informant then alleged, that staff there conspired together and allegedly declared that the specimen sent to them was not that of the main accused doctor, nor of any of his “accomplices” whom it was claimed had raped the Christian nurse and thus deprived this “hapless and impoverished Christian trainee nurse of justice.”

According to our informant, the Christian trainee nurse was allegedly seduced and taken to the doctors’ mess led by a Muslim nurse and then subjected to “immense physical, mental and sexual assault” by the doctor and two other Muslim men.

According to reports obtained later that night, she was found lying on ground “nearly dead” and “drenched in blood” and taken to the hospital for treatment for her “critical condition.”  Read details here….

Other News : Christian Woman Freed from Muslim Kidnappers in Pakistan

Courtesy : ChristianNewsToday || TheReligionOfPeace || TheChristianPost

Pakistan Christian “Burnt”, Wife “Raped”, For Refusing Islam. The Christian Man died later.

March 22, 2010

PAK NEWS ALERT: Pakistan Christian “Burnt”, Wife “Raped”, For Refusing Islam

Saturday, March 20, 2010 (12:06 pm)

By BosNewsLife Asia Service reporting from Pakistan

RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– A Christian man was fighting for his life in Pakistan’s Punjab province Saturday, March 20, after Muslim leaders backed by police burnt him alive for refusing to convert to Islam, while his wife was raped by police officers, Christian and hospital sources familiar with the case told BosNewsLife.

Arshed Masih was burnt Friday, March 19, in front of a police station in the city of Rawalpindi near Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, following apparent death threats from his Muslim employer Sheikh Mohammad Sultan, an influential businessman, and religious leaders, said the Rawalpindi Holy Family Hospital.

His wife, Martha Arshed, was allegedly raped by police officers. Their three children — ranging in age from 7 to 12–  were reportedly forced to witness the attacks against their parents.

“Both [Masih] and wife were rushed to the Holy Family Hospital and are under treatment,” the hospital said.

He was listed in serious condition with about 80 percent of his body burnt.

POLICE INVESTIGATION

Local police officials said they were “aware” of the attacks carried out by Muslim leaders and apparently at least some officers and added that an investigation was underway. No arrests were reported yet late Saturday, March 19.

Sheikh Mohammad Sultan could not immediately be reached for comment and it was not clear whether he had been in contact with police Saturday, March 20.

Before tensions emerged about their Christian faith, Masih worked as a driver and his wife as a maid for the Muslim businessman since 2005, Christians said.

The couple apparently lived with their children in the servant quarters of Sultan’s estate in Rawalpindi, a key trade and tourist destination. In January, religious leaders and Sultan allegedly asked Arshed to convert to Islam with his whole family.  After he refused, the group reportedly threatened him with “dire consequences”.

DEATH THREAT

Arshed offered to quit his job, but the businessman allegedly said he would “kill” him if he were to leave.

He apparently also told Christian mediators that he would never allow the Christian family to live somewhere else.

This week tensions rose after Sultan reported a theft of 500,000 Pakistani Rupees (5,952$), according to a document seen by BosNewsLife.

The Christian family members were not named as suspects in the so-called ‘First Information Report’  from police.

Sources familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified for security reasons, told BosNewsLife that the businessman had offered the couple to drop the case if they convert to Islam or “else that both would not see their children again.”

However, “Arshed refused to convert and stood firm in his faith. Arshed`s wife was raped by the police and he was burnt alive,” Friday, March 19, local Christians said, speaking on condition of anonimity.

The case comes at a time when church groups have complained about growing attacks against minority Christians by Muslim militants, often with the alleged support by local law enforcement officials and other authorities. (BosNewsLife Asia Service includes BosNewsLife correspondents often working in difficult circumstances. In some cases, including this report, their names are not mentioned due to security concerns. With editing by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).

Christian burned alive dies, Christian community calls for justice

A True Sing of Islamic Peace… Arshed Masih burnt alive, died later. Amen.

by Fareed Khan||AsianNews.it
Arshed Masih, a 38 year-old Pakistani Christian, died yesterday (22.03.10) evening at 7.45 from his very serious injuries. The family requests that an autopsy is performed before the funeral. Christian associations and human rights activists demonstrate outside the hospital. Catholic leaders: the federal and provincial government do not punish the guilty. Read here details……….

Courtesy : BosNewsLife‘s Stefan J. Bos, AsianNews.it & The Religion of Peace.

Five Pakistani staff, including two women Killed by soldiers of Allah for their link in NGO Charity Mission named ‘World Vision’.

March 10, 2010

Rienk van Velzen, World Vision’s regional communications director, told AFP by telephone from the Netherlands that all staff in the office were Pakistani. — Photo by AFP

At least five killed as gunmen attack NGO in Mansehra

PESHAWAR: Militants armed with guns and grenades stormed the offices of a US-based Christian charity in Pakistan on Wednesday, killing five aid workers in an attack blamed on militants.

The gunmen seized the World Vision building near the town of Oghi in the Mansehra district of North West Frontier Province (NWFP), where Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants have waged a deadly campaign of attacks.

Police and World Vision’s regional spokesman said five Pakistani staff, including two women, were killed and seven other employees wounded when up to 15 gunmen arrived in pick-up vehicles and began firing on the aid workers.

“They gathered all of us in one room. The gunmen, some of whom had their faces covered, also snatched our mobile phones,” said World Vision administration officer Mohammad Sajid, who was in the office at the time.

“They dragged people one by one and shifted to an adjacent room and shot and killed them.”

reports :

U.S. Charity Is Attacked In Pakistan; 6 Are Killed

By ISMAIL KHAN ||Published: March 10, 2010

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Six Pakistani employees of the American Christian charity World Vision were killed Wednesday and seven others were wounded in an attack on the aid group’s offices in a remote village in northern Pakistan. Read details here…..

Rienk van Velzen, World Vision’s regional communications director, told AFP by telephone from the Netherlands that all staff in the office were Pakistani.

“The sad news is that five local colleagues were killed — three male and two female. We have seven colleagues injured,” he said.

The organisation has been operating in the area since October 2005, when aid workers flooded into the northwest after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake killed more than 73,000 people and left about 3.5 million homeless.

But many charities have since left the area, as militant violence has soared. In February 2008, four aid workers with British-based group Plan International were killed in a similar gun and grenade attack in Mansehra town.

Police officials said the militants on Wednesday opened fire and detonated hand grenades at the site near Oghi, about 80 kilometres north of Islamabad, killing the five before disappearing into the hills.

“Police rushed to the area after receiving information about the attack, but the attackers managed to flee,” senior police officer Waqar Ahmed told AFP.

“We chased them, there was an exchange of fire, but the gunmen escaped into the mountains.”

Ahmed blamed the attack on “the same people who are destroying our schools” — a reference to Taliban militants opposed to co-education who have blown up hundreds of schools across the northwest in the past three years.

“Now they want to disturb relief work in quake-hit areas,” Ahmed said.

A wave of suicide and bomb attacks across Pakistan has killed more than 3,000 people since 2007. Blame has fallen on Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants bitterly opposed to the country’s alliance with the United States.

But Azam Tariq, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said he was unaware of Wednesday’s attack, telling AFP by telephone: “I have no knowledge about the incident and would not like to offer any comment.”

World Vision’s website describes the group as “a Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation” founded by a US priest.

It says the aid group is “inspired by our Christian values”, but stresses that the organisation does not proselytise or make aid conditional on a person’s faith.

The United Nations decided last year to relocate a limited number of its international staff from Pakistan because of security concerns.

The UN’s World Food Programme office in Islamabad was attacked last October, with five aid workers killed in a suicide bombing.

On February 3, a bomb attack in the NWFP district of Lower Dir killed three American soldiers and five other people at the opening of a school just rebuilt with Western funding after a militant attack.

In the northwest tribal belt on the Afghan border Wednesday, police found the bodies of two men accused by the Taliban of spying for the United States.

Courtesy : DawnNews, AFP, The New York Times, and Agencies.

No ‘blasphemy law revision’ can save the Hindu minority in Pakistan. Hindus will be fossilized in some next years in Pakistan. Muslims are the Killers of Hindus in Pakistan.

February 8, 2010

Christians pray during a rally to condemn attacks on fellows Christians, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009 in Karachi, Pakistan. — AP Photo

Minority affairs’ minister sees blasphemy law revision this year

Sunday, 07 Feb, 2010||Safar 23, 1431|| Read Original in Dawn

WASHINGTON: Pakistan plans within this year to revise its laws against blasphemy, which have long been criticised as a way to abuse minorities, a government minister said.

Shahbaz Bhatti, minister for minority affairs, said religious reconciliation was a little-noticed priority for President Asif Ali Zardari’s civilian government in Pakistan, which lies on the frontline of the US-led war against extremism.

Bhatti, a long-time Roman Catholic activist whose position was given full cabinet status for the first time, said he was speaking with political parties to present revisions to the blasphemy law by the end of 2010.

“This is a democratic government which has a commitment to repeal all the discriminatory laws affecting the rights of minorities,” Bhatti told AFP in an interview in Washington.

“We are using military action to fight terrorism and we are using economic opportunities, but another thing which is important is that we are pursuing interfaith harmony,” he said.

Bhatti said that while he did not envision an immediate repeal of blasphemy laws, the revision would require judges to investigate cases before they are registered — creating oversight of the police, who are often accused of abuse.

The revised law would also assign punishment equivalent to that under the blasphemy laws for anyone who makes a false complaint, he said.

Bhatti was in Washington to attend the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual Christian-organised gathering drawing national leaders. He also met with US lawmakers, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom and Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Pakistan’s law against blaspheming Islam carries the death penalty. While no one has ever been sent to the gallows for the crime, activists say the law is used to exploit others out of personal enmity or business disputes.

In June last year, blasphemy allegations led to mob violence against Christians in Punjab that caused hundreds to flee, according to the US State Department’s annual report on religious freedom around the world.

The report said there was particular discrimination against the Ahmadiya community, which Pakistan considers non-Muslim as adherents do not believe Mohammed was the last prophet.

In another incident in September, a 25-year-old Christian jailed on blasphemy allegations died in prison. Activists suspected he was tortured, but authorities said he committed suicide.

Pakistan, founded in 1947 as a Muslim homeland during the bloody partition of British India, is overwhelmingly Muslim. Religious minorities however form some five per cent of the population, according to government figures.

Among Muslims, strong tensions also persist between the majority Sunni and the minority Shia sects. Bombings on Friday killed 33 people in Karachi, including an attack near a bus carrying people to a Shia procession.

In UN bodies, Pakistan has butted heads with Western democracies by sponsoring resolutions on fighting “religious defamation.”

But Bhatti vowed to make progress at home.

In December, the government launched a drive to set up more than 120 “district interfaith harmony committees” around Pakistan to help resolve conflicts surrounded minorities.

Bhatti said he has personally visited religious communities around the country including more than 30 madrassas, or Islamic schools, to encourage tolerance.

While he said he met a positive reception, Bhatti was under no illusions about his safety, saying he has faced death threats.

“When I started this struggle I said that I would not compromise on the principle of religious freedom and human equality,” he said.

“These principles are the nucleus of my life. I will live for them and I will die for them.”

#Alertpak# says : From the above it is difficult to know the peril in which the Hindu minorities are dying day by day without any notice of anybody. The political rulers of Pakistan, administrative authorities, police, judiciary, human rights watch –  nobody care for this unwanted race in Pakistan. The downfall of  16% Hindus in 1947 in  the lowest of 1.86% now a days speaks only a ghastly ethnic cleansing and unbearable persecution upon the Hindu minority in Pakistan by the majority Muslims. The Hindu race in Pakistan will be fossilized in some next years. The questioned “blasphemy law revision” may save the minority Christian in Pakistan as they have strong organisation of their own with an international support of the global Christian community. But there is no international Hindu community to spare a single word or give a support in favour of the dying Hindu race in Pakistan. The so-called Hindu leaders of India are interested in bogus Rama temple in Ayodhya, but they are not interested to save the followers of Rama in Pakistan. And some paper organisation of Hindus under different signboards in Pakistan wait for some Govt recognitions or grants for personal benefit. What a tragedy of Pakistani Hindu Minorities for ever.

Christians in Pakistan Attacked for Religious Beliefs :: New Face of Terrorism

October 1, 2009

pakistan_christ_0804

 pic source : http://blog.familychristianmovies.com/2009/08/07/christians-killed-in-pakistan/

Persecution of Christians in Pakistan

Posted by: Maloy Krishna Dhar in his site on Saturday, September 5th, 2009

I learnt from Richard Aldrich, professor of International Security, University of Warwick and an eminent authority on intelligence, that inquisitiveness about what cooks in neighbor’s pot and under his quilt was one of the primitive ingredients that went in making the science and art of intelligence.

Besides Jihadist upsurge, Pakistan is beset with several other ailments which have plagued its civil society across the board. These ailments are not well publicized and only occasionally Pakistani media and to a very little extent international media pay attention to these malaises. Let us visit our favorite neighbor Pakistan what is usually cooked in its pot, other than Talibani and Lashkar and al Qaeda broth. The global community is not well informed of what’s really cooking on the other darker areas of Minority bashing by the religious fanatics in Pakistan. They take advantage archaic Blasphemy Act and other medieval provisions introduced by Zia-ul- Haq and perpetuated by the Ulama community.

Let us focus attention on the beleaguered Christian community of Pakistan. Minority persecution is a trademark for most Pakistani sectarian militant organisation, especially the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Sipah Sahaba. When I say this, I equally castigate minority bashing by certain pro-Hindutwa chauvinists. But the scale of oppression against the Christians in Pakistan is appalling. This has developed as a pattern and all over Pakistan most minority religious groups; especially the Christians are systematically persecuted.

Recently I received three communications, one from NWFP and the others from somewhere near Lahore. The letters were from prominent Christians in two different provinces. I quote the letters sans the real names of the senders and their exact locations.

“I am feeling very pity and difficult from where should I start and for what I would start I/we are in such a vicissitudes which even have stuck the brain to think and act. You may find this email very strange! But I/we are in Trauma.

Dear you are very well aware about the circumstances we are going through particularly one can imagine as a minority what would be our situation in this time (state of war) and one even do not know for what reason he/she has been assassinated. Anyway we were and are not living but struggling to live or fighting for our survival. Every second day brings something new in our country and we get in new crises namely War against Terror, political, judiciary, water, power, food, fuel and blab blab…; the law n order situation is never ever under control. The Government supremacy is nowhere in the country and their transgressions have taken us further in worse situation. I would say this is totally a potpourri Govt. On the other end the inflation really has broken the back born of individual’s budget.

In the sequence of different issues raised the World Recognized Leader was assassinated in on 27 December 2007. Which was not only shocked me but even to the whole world. My very little daughter was about 3 years at that time and she said “Papa my friend (who even could not pronounce her name) Baibazeer Bhutto ki death hogai”. I do not why but whenever my little use to se Benazir Bhutto on screen, she use to say “she is my friend”.

Anyways, latter Tehrik Nafaz-e-Shariat brought another trauma in the country; obviously that was situation like state in the state. This killed hundreds of innocents who had nothing to do with and forced thousands to get displaced. On the other hands few anti Pakistani are having slogan for Azad Balochistan. And on this they are killing the innocents rather target killing the Punjabi’s.

christian_protest

Pic Source : http://www.thepersecution.org/news/09/salem0806.html ( read detail for Gojra incident under caption.. 

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community denounces violence against Pakistan’s Christian minority.)

Any one can tell such a Protest Procession appealing DON ‘ T KILL HINDUS IN PAKISTAN ??

( The above two pictures are not included in the M.K.Dhar’s original Article.)

You know I really get numb, stung by this, my grandfather came to XXX in year 1890 but yet we are not local of the area but domicile. I heard from my aboriginals that once the Christian delegation raised this issue in year 1972 to be given status of local to the Govt. but some so called “Son of the Soils” declined by asking to provide your real identity and contribution in the freedom of Pakistan. Anyways, many of the real patriots and true Pakistani know the contribution of the minority for this Country.

Being in this trauma from last five years I even have not taken my kids for outing rather would say simple outing i.e. for hotelling in the town to avoid any misshape, But for how long? Now we are getting sick. Every second day tell us that how insecure we are here by hearing a news of bomb blast and firing rocket launcher. When we do not here news of any Bomb blast, my daughter asks me “Papa Aaj koi Dhmaka Nahi huwa”

You know what? This is very first time that the schools have been closed for summer vacations from Aug 1 to 17. Usually it gets close in July every year. The main reason is that in most of the schools not even offering their National Anthem in assembly because they are threatened by some XXX army. And due to this Govt. close the school to avoid misshape. We are so week that even can’t celebrate our Independence Day. Most of the institutes have raised their boundary walls from 6ft to 10ft by taking preventive security measures.

So the Govt. just avoided the situation forced to give summer vacations in such a time so that we as a Nation in schools/colleges would not celebrates our Day of Independents on 14th August in particular Province. This all is ridiculous to me; I cannot take my kids out for enjoying the independence day, playing for anything; even before going to church one is also give thinking that we are putting ourselves in risk or not. I would not say who are but whoever is killing the innocents and killing against the name of racial discrimination is not right. Nobody think as a human being and what our religions tell us about Humanity. Christians are openly humiliated, their women abducted and their churches defiled. We are afraid of holding any open religious function. The rifle wielding goons threaten to loot our homes unless we pay them handsomely. We have to buy our breath, leave aside bread.

You must have heard the killing of innocents in Gojra, hundreds of home fired and many women were raped few of them yet missing (which not being highlighted in the news). The BIBLE was burnt, if QURAN is a Holly Book than Bible is too. Why they do not drag those who burnt the BIBLE. Why they do not apply blasphemy law on those. Are they supreme? I have not seen such Muslims in my whole life rather they are beasts. What Govt. was doing, neither Police nor any other force intervene and stop the so called Muslims to stop the killing and brutal act. What (ASAW PBUH) said “if we save one life we safe whole human being” and “if we kill one human being we kill whole humanity. I do not know that what I have written is having any sequential detail or not but I have one thing in my mind I do not want my family to live for survival but to live the life at the fullest….

…It seem quite awkward to say and ask such thing which might be beyond your limit but what to request. Dear living in this entire situation from years and years, I get tired and see no future of my family. Sending kids to school create worries if they would return home safe and sound. If visiting the market for grocery and commodities we fear to get the essential item and reach home as early as possible. But in the night while going for sleep again threats comes in mind if someone shoot rocket launcher “God forbidden” would lend on our home roof; than? There is one option left to get rid of this situation is to migrate; which again people/person like me cannot afford. But the Big Fishes of our Country easily move and having dual nationalities. I do not have money in the bank to show, I might would have it if would involved in Bribery.

So the only option left to me is to sale myself and my family (even in this country we have been sold to IMF/World Bank) to someone aboard. So that he/she can keep us as slave (we are here slaves and minority too) at least we would be secure. No fear of landing of rocket launcher, bomb blast. My kids would be able to play whatever they want and move freely elsewhere. I do not if this would be possible for you or not but truly asking you to kindly … kindly do forward this email to some major news papers, George W. Bush, Obama and Clinton and the parliamentarians and to some Churches too.

With Best Regards and God Bless You…”

Video added by #Alertpak#

I have edited this letter for ensuring safety of the writer. The other letter from somewhere near Lahore is more pathetic. In this case also I have edited heavily to protect identity of the sender.

“Sir, we read you regularly and derive inspiration. But village Korian on July 30 and in Gojra on August 10, 2009, where Christian homes were attacked, burnt, their women raped and nearly 15 Christians were killed including four women and children. All because, the Sipah Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Al Qaeda gangs alleged that we had burnt pages of the Koran. The raiders numbering 500 were armed with sword, Kalashnikovs, pistols and they fired in the air to scare the Christians. My neighbour ZZZ was dragged out from his home and was beheaded in front of his children. His wife was grabbed by some militants and taken away. We do not know about her as yet. The police standing nearby did not do anything. As you know this part of Punjab is the strongest hold of Jhangvi and Sipah Sahaba. They openly move with arms and threaten the Christians and Hindus. The real intention of the militants is to evict us from our land and grab the same. They looted 15 shops run by the Christians and took away four motorbikes.

One of the raiders threw petrol soaked torch on at least 5 homes of Christians. One woman of about 40 was raped on the open street. They raised slogans: Allha hu Akbar, Jiahil Christan murdabad, Pakistan for Islam etc…They plundered most valuables and desecrated the Holy Bible by urinating on them.

Video added by #Alertpak#

I am ashamed to mention that over 8 Christian women were raped in the open and a girl child who protested against molestation of her mother was killed with a spear. Punjab and Islamabad governments are giving only lip services. Sir, please bring our plights to the notice of the broader world as you have wider readership…”

What really happened on 10th August, 2009 was included in the letter vividly. To summarize, the Muslim militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah Sahaba came from Jhang side. The Jhang-Maghiana belt in Punjab is the cradle of jihadist Islam. This belt has now become a refuge for the Talibanis and al Qaeda cadres. The area is dominated by the Markaz-ud- Dawa and its militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba. Both the Jhangvi and Taiba outfits are intricately connected to Jaish-e-Mohammad (Multan area) and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and al Qaeda units in the province. Lahore and Islamabad may not agree, but the fact remains that most parts of Punjab has been radicalized and the militants are eager to either convert the Hindus and the Christians or drive them out.

A map of Gojra area, near Jhang and Lahore would show that it is not a remote village. It is on a main road and there are administrative infrastructures nearby.

gojra-location

Courtsey for more details please read : http://maloykrishnadhar.com/persecution-of-christians-in-pakistan

Another Face of Pakistan :: Pakistan annihilates Christians

August 13, 2009

In Pakistan, Christians Hit by Islamic “Purity” Programme

Nine dead in one village put to fire and sword. It is the latest in a series of attacks against those whose only fault is that of not being Muslim. To the silence and disinterest of the rest of the world >>
jpg_1339659

ROME, August 5, 2009 – They threw stones, burned homes, and pursued  those fleeing, firing wildly. In the end, nine people were dead. Seven of them have the same last name, Hamid, and belong to the same family clan as Fr. Hussein Younis, a Franciscan. They include two children (in the photo by Saqib Khadim, the coffins). Their only fault is that they were Christian.

It took place in Pakistan, in Gojra, in the province of Faisalabad in eastern Punjab. There are 1.3 million Catholics in all of Pakistan, and the same number of Christians of other denominations, out of a population of 160 million, almost entirely Muslim. But the intolerance against this small, poor, peaceful minority has become a fact of life, exploding at times into bloody aggression.

The latest episode was sparked by an innocent marriage celebration among Christians in Koriyan, a little village near Gojra. It was July 30. Interviewed by Lorenzo Cremonesi for “Corriere della Sera” on August 3, Fr. Younis recounts:

“As is customary, at the end of the ceremony in the church the guests tossed flowers, rice, a few coins as tokens of prosperity, and slips of paper with greetings or prayers written on them. The problem is that some Muslims started to claim that the slips of paper were pages torn out of the Qur’an, an extremely serious offense for Islam and even more serious in these times of fanaticism. Very soon insults and accusations were flying, and then stones. A few homes were set on fire in the afternoon. But the more serious violence exploded on the morning of Saturday, August 1, in Gojra, around the Christian neighborhood.

“Our people counted eight buses full of extremists who had come from outside the area. Unfamiliar faces, people armed to the teeth. Their slogan was that we Christians have the same religion as the American soldiers, and therefore we are enemies, we deserve death. First they threw stones, then they sprayed gasoline, and finally came machine gun fire and bombs. Here around me everything is burned, charred. The death toll could have been much worse if the Christians had not fled immediately. My relatives were not fast enough, and they were burned alive, trapped in the flames.”

The bishop of Faisalabad, Joseph Coutts, also interviewed by “Corriere della Sera,” commented as follows:

“It is clear that these pogroms have been organized by groups that, for the purpose of disrupting Pakistan, in addition to Afghanistan, are doing everything they can to sow violence. They have proven this to us with their attacks on major Pakistani cities, and are now moving on to attacks on Christians. The most serious fact is that now they are able to mobilize great crowds of faithful against us. I find this an alarming phenomenon, worse than the isolated bombing attacks on churches that have terrorized Christians since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan in 2001.”

The bishop recalls at least four anti-Christian pogroms that have seen the mobilization of large masses of demonstrators ready to use violence: “The first time in recent years was in 1997, in the village of Shanti Nagar. Eight years later, the attack was repeated in the town of Sangla Hill. Last June 30, there was one in the village of Bahmani Wala, in the region of Kasur, not far from here. And now in Koriyan and Gojra, they have set fire to dozens of homes.”

The pretext for the violence and persecution is almost always law 295, which in the name of sharia stipulates extremely harsh punishments, even life in prison, for those who offend the Qur’an or Mohammed. “The problem is that this law is used in a completely arbitrary way. Often the word of a Muslim citizen is enough to have a Christian put in prison without any concrete proof,” Bishop Coutts continues. The latest trial concluded last April 17 in Lahore, with the acquittal of two elderly Christians, James and Buta Masih. The two innocent men had spent more than two years in prison. It has been calculated that since 1986, the accusation has been used against 982 Christians. 25 of these were killed by Muslim fanatics.

After the latest massacre, the prime minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, appointed a committee of inquiry and announced compensation of 500,000 rupees, a little more than 4,000 euros, for the relatives of the victims.

Last July 6, compensation of 20,000 rupees was given to each of the 57 families whose homes were destroyed in the anti-Christian pogrom on June 30 in Bahmani Wala. The payment was given in the presence of three Catholic priests and other Christian leaders, in front of the village church used by the various confessions.

Before this, the Catholic Church had also suffered damage as a result of the suicide attack on May 27 against a police building in Lahore. The building was entirely destroyed, with 35 killed. But four of the adjacent buildings were also partially collapsed: the bookstore of the Daughters of St. Paul, and three Catholic junior high schools.

In March of 2008, the cathedral of Lahore was also damaged by the bombing of a nearby government building.

For three days after the latest pogrom, all of the Catholic schools of Pakistan were closed as a sign of mourning.

The bishops and the apostolic nuncio Adolfo Tito Yllana have repeatedly asked the Pakistani authorities to act in defense of the assaulted religious minorities. Their conviction is that a genuine martyrdom is taking place, with the Christians chosen as “scapegoats” by the hatred of Muslim fanatics. Similar pogroms in Pakistan have also targeted an Islamic branch banned as “heretical,” which numbers about three million followers, the Ahmadi.

In a telegram sent on August 3 to the bishop of Faisalabad, Joseph Coutts, and signed by the Vatican secretary of state, Benedict XVI expressed his sadness over “the senseless attack on the Christian community of Gojra City,” with the “tragic killing of innocent men, women and children.” And he appealed to the Christians of Pakistan not to give up the effort to “build a society which, with a profound sense of trust in religious and human values, is marked by mutual respect among all its members.”

In an interview with Vatican Radio, the nuncio in Pakistan said he had been “comforted by the words of forgiveness from a Christian whose home had been burned, and said: ‘Let us hope only that God gives them the light to see the right way’.”

The nuncio commented: “This is more powerful than any homily that I could give. Here there is the Christian spirit that always reigns among these suffering people.”

Courtsey : www.faithfreedom.org