Wednesday, July 8, 2009

012. Pakistan: 'reconciliation' but not injustice

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 012 | Wed 08 July 2009

PAKISTAN: 'RECONCILIATION' BUT NOT JUSTICE

Sharia Law does not allow a Christian to testify against a Muslim. As this becomes the official policy -- or even just the common practice -- Muslims discover they can terrorise and pillage Christians with impunity. Then intolerance and violent persecution soar. Day by day, even moment by moment, Christians are faced with the choice of deadly violence or doing whatever it takes to survive. Shrewd Muslims exploit this situation to extract money and demand deference from the Christians who now live with the all-consuming fear that is intrinsic to dhimmitude.

Last week's Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB), 'Egypt: Impunity Fuels Persecution', highlighted the disastrous consequences for Egypt's Coptic Christians as Muslims find they can persecute with impunity. Indeed, as this prayer bulletin is being written, violence against Coptic Christians has erupted in Bani Swaif and Dakahlia governorates. This week's RLPB looks at an identical situation in Pakistan -- not in the Taliban-ruled North West, but on the other side of the country in Bahmani Wala village, Kasur district, in the north-east of Punjab Province.

On 30 June a Christian named Sardar Masih (38) and his 10-year-old son were driving home on their tractor around 7:30pm when they came to a motorbike parked in the middle of the road. It belonged to Muhammad Riaz, a Muslim who had reportedly been drinking at a nearby celebration. When Sardar Masih asked Riaz to move his bike to let him pass, the Muslim took umbrage, abused Masih and called him a 'low caste'. A quarrel ensued. With help of some influential Muslims, Mohammad Riaz then registered a criminal case against nine local Christians. He further contacted Qari Lateef, a local imam behind various blasphemy charges in the area. Lateef reportedly convinced Riaz to accuse Sardar Masih and other Christians of blasphemy, which he did. Lateef then used the mosque's loudspeakers to call the Muslims to 'teach a lesson' to the 'blaspheming' Christians. A mob of more than 600 Muslims armed with guns, knives, hatchets and clubs erupted into a raging, two-hour-long pogrom, first to the home of Sadar Masih and then against all the Christians of Bahmani Wala Village. Shouting 'Allahu Akbar' (Allah is great) and 'Kill infidels', they looted and torched 110 homes belonging to Christians, as well as cutting off their electricity and water. Two churches were also attacked, with the Bibles being torn up and used to light fires. Some 700 Christians were forced to flee for their lives. Eight women and 12 men from the Christian community received wounds including deep hatchet cuts and burns. Reportedly they were not treated with any sympathy at the hospital. The Muslims then organised a boycott and now will not buy from or sell to Christians.

In response the government set up a committee which had four days to negotiate reconciliation. On 4 July Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani sent Christian MP Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, to Bahmani Wala village to 'make peace'. On 5 July Bhatti announced he had brokered a 'reconciliation': the Christians will drop all charges against the Muslims and receive 100,000 Pakistani Rupees (US$1,400) in compensation. Whilst no Muslims will be charged over the pogrom, the false blasphemy charges by Muhammad Riaz against nine Christians will stand.

[The names here are as they appear in the reports on the Pakistan Christian Post. The names but not the details vary slightly amongst the various accounts.]

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT:

* God will draw the Christian community of Bahmani Wala village closer to each other and closer to him (for Satan will doubtless attack their unity and their faith); may he bless them abundantly as he reveals his love, mercy and power by providing all their temporal, emotional and spiritual needs. 'Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me . . . When I am afraid I put my trust in you . . . This I know, that God is for me.' (From Psalm 56)

* God will reveal his amazing grace and power by convicting many Bahmani Wala village Muslims of their sins, leading them to repentance and salvation; may many Pakistani Muslims be forced to re-examine their faith in the light of this shameful violence.

* the authorities will have the courage to uphold justice and stand against Islamic violence, resisting the temptation to appease Islamists as compensation for fighting the Taliban.

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SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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'RECONCILIATION' BUT NOT JUSTICE IN PAKISTAN

Following a minor argument between a Christian and a Muslim in Punjab Province on 30 June, the 'offended' Muslim accused that Christian and eight others of blasphemy. After the local imam broadcast a call from the village mosque to 'teach a lesson' to the 'blaspheming' Christians, 600 armed Muslims rampaged. They looted and torched two churches and 110 homes of Christians as well as cars and businesses. Eight women and 12 men suffered serious wounds. The government gave a committee four days to negotiate reconciliation. On 5 July Christian MP Shahbaz Bhatti announced he had brokered a deal: the Christians will drop all charges against the Muslims and receive 100,000 Pakistani Rupees (US$1,400) in compensation. This is a most dangerous precedent; moreover the false blasphemy charges still stand. Please pray.