News & Comments

A Survey of Gains and Losses of 2017 by Samson Javed

The CUWAP.org team is pleased to share the following article by one of its own journalists. This article was initially published in Daily Ausaf, London, on 01 January, 2018.

http://epaper.dailyausaf.com/popup.php?newssrc=issues/2018-01-01/36573/e...

The same theme of Gains and Losses by the Urdu speaking Christian community throughout the world, and especially the Pakistani Christians was also discussed by the Gateway Gazette Team, when 2017's last TV show was telecast live on 28th December 2017 from MATV's London Studios. This programme, The Gateway Gazette Show, has been telecasted from London for the last elven years and can be watched on SKY channel 793, every Thursday from 8:30 to 9:30 pm London (GMT) time.  To watch the show of 28 December 2017 click the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sd4IVOYeimM

 

Rev John Basco (L), Akhtar Injeeli (center), Dr Peter Davdi (R), presenters of the Gateway Gazette show.

Blasphemy in the 21st century by Nasir Saeed

The editorial team at CUWAP NEWS is pleased to share a link with you to a recent, and a very timely, article by Mr Nasir Saeed. The writer is the UK director of CLASS and an expert on the various aspects of the Blasphemy Laws (295 A. B. & C.) of Pakistan. This is his latest assessment of the situation, regarding these laws, the most pressing and legally the most important challenge facing the minorities of Pakistan. This article was published in  Daily Times, Lahore, on 29/12/2017.

To Read the article click:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/169465/blasphemy-21st-century/

 

Following is a brief synopsis of the contents of the so called blasphemy laws, and their prescribed penalties in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

PPC Description Penalty
§ 298 Uttering of any word or making any sound or making any gesture or placing of any object in the sight with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person. 1 years imprisonment, or fine, or both
§ 298A Use of derogatory remarks etc., in respect of holy personages. 1980 3 years imprisonment, or fine, or both
§ 298B (Ahmadi blasphemy law) Misuse of epithets, descriptions and titles etc., reserved for certain holy personages or places, by Ahmadis. 26 April 1984 3 years imprisonment and fine
§ 298C (Ahmadi blasphemy law) (Aka Ordinance XX): f a Muslim, or preaching or propagating his faith, or "in any manner whatsoever" outraging the religious feelings of Muslims, or posing himself as a Muslim. 26 April 1984 3 years imprisonment and fine
§ 295 Injuring or defiling places of worship, with intent to insult the religion of any class Up to 2 years imprisonment or fine, or both
§ 295A Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs. 1927 Up to 10 years imprisonment, or fine, or both
§ 295B Defiling, etc., of Quran. 1982 Imprisonment for life
§ 295C Use of derogatory remarks, spoken, written, directly or indirectly, etc. defiles the name of Muhammad 1986 Mandatory Death and fine (Feb. 1990)

Trial must take place in a Court of Session with a Muslim judge presiding.

(The above text  is only for sharing information and promoting discussion and debate.)

APPG for Pakistan Minorities acknowledge the Contributions of Pakistani Christians in the UK

Special Report and photos by Esther Das

 

Thursday 21, 2017: The British Parliament: December 19th, 2017 was a day, marked to celebrate Christmas as well as the contributions of Pakistan Christian Community to uplift the people of Pakistan generally and the Christian Community in Pakistan particularly by the All Parties Parliamentary Group for the Pakistani Minorities.

The event was chaired by the AAPG Chair MP Jim Shannon and facilitated by the APPG Gen. Secretary Councillor Morris Johns. The Rt. Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, Lord Alton, The Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Lord Ahmed of Wimbledon, the minister in teh Foreign and Commonwealth office (Chief Guest) and many other dignitaries graced the event with their presence.

The meeting opened with a minute’s silent prayer for the martyrs of Quetta and concluded with a suggestion by Mr Morris John to post a Christmas Card to Asia Bibi to render a message of solidarity, encouragement and Christian love.

Sixteen individuals were awarded the certificate of appreciation:

Mr Mike Wakely's name has become synonymous with the Starfish Asia project that has been supporting education with Christian Values for the last many years. A fruit of 8000 Pakistani Children being educated from low-income families is yielded so far. The work involves curriculum development, teacher training and provision of resources on a partnership base. At the moment Starfish Asia is providing 150 scholarships to students in Pakistan. Mike was at the top of the award list, followed by many who had been active for the same cause in different battlefields.

Wilson Chowdhury is a British born Pakistani , chairperson of British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), formed after the Gojra Christian Colony was set ablaze in 2009. Since then BPCA has been highlighting the issues of Pakistani Christian community unfailingly and has been instrumental in encouraging and helping oppressed and persecuted Pakistani Christians through financial, media publicity and legal resources, especially the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Thailand.

Dr. Peter David has played a leading role in reclaiming the nationalized Christian educational institutions from the Govt. of Pakistan. The Foreman Christian  College (FC College) is hugely supported by him and he’s striving to reclaim Murray College Sialkot and Gordon College Rawalpindi as well restore the UCH Lahore. Thanks to his efforts and those of others that FC College is now a fully recognized charted university. 

Professor Anjum James Paul was greatly missed as he was not present to receive his certificate acknowledging his relentless efforts to exclude hate material from the curriculum of Punjab Text Book Board’s books. His efforts have recently yielded some positive changes in the Punjab Board’s Primary textbooks. Moreover, topics of Human Rights, Peace, Tolerance and Peaceful Coexistence have been introduced.

Rev. Noble Samuel, an ex army Chaplain who is well informed and active politically, spiritually and through media resources, to highlight, support and prevent issues that the Pakistani Christian Community faces in the wake of religious intolerance.

Asif Mall, Chair Pakistan Minorities Rights Organization (PMRO) and had been very effective in community uplifting and spreading awareness regarding the plight of Pakistani religious minorities through his media appearances and social media campaigns, as well as hosting a regular TV Show on Zindagi TV.

The Journalists were appreciated for their media presence and campaigning through print and digital media. Among them are: Mr Samson Javed and Kaleem Dean for their print media presence in Urdu and English , respectively. Mr John Bosco who has been hosting a weekly show at the Gateway TV to high-light and resolve the issues the community faces.

The political activism was recognized through the efforts of Councillor. James Shera, who has been awarded an MBE by the British Govt. and the Star of Pakistan by the Pakistani Govt., Mr. Edgar Money, chair of CLAAS, providing legal help to plethora of people for several years and Mr Micheal Massey, who has worked tirelessly to encourage Paksitani Christians to participate in the British politics.

Among others are Noshab Khiljee, a successful businessman who have trained Young Pakistani Christian Entrepreneurs in property business, Mr.Qamar Rafiq a young rising star, who has worked tirelessly with Dr. Peter to protect the properties of Church of Scotland in Pakistan from the land mafia. Mr. Qamar Shams, Chair International Christian Council (ICC), Bishop Nadeem Bhinder, head of 200 pastoral teams and supervisor for 60 churches as well as a few economic development projects for the unprivileged in Pakistan’s rural areas.

These sixteen eminent personalities, each,  received a certificate of appreciation,  however, this list is not exhaustive, nor does this article cover the spectrum of all the contribution made by each one of these. There still are many unsung heroes who work with these people to realize the mutual dream of the abundant life. For instance, the achievements wouldn't’ have been possible without the support of these people’s wives and families. I would strongly urge the APPG to include the life-partners if high achievers hereafter. It is good to begin the charity at home !

Christmas Mushairah with Pastor SB Zindani

On Friday, 8th December, Pastor Samuel Barriah Zindani hosted a Christmas Mushairah which was attended by about fifty participants,  Christians and Muslims, many of whom recited their poetry about the Christmas theme. The event took place at The Ridlley Christian Centre, 94 Upton Lane, Forest Gate. The participants who took part in reciting their poems included, Dr Kashif, Syed Absar Ahmed, Sarwat Iqbal, Mehbub A Mehbub, Aslam Zahid, Dr Rahim-ullah Shad, Amjad Mirza, Shikb Mirza, Rev Naeem Waiz, Pastor Asif M Sadiq, while Akhtar Injeeli, the chief-guest for the event closed the night with recitations from Basharat-e Uzma by E.Q. Injeeli. Mr Albert Daniel and Mukhtar Younis presented musical numbers and Pastor Zindani explained the significance of the Christmas event. The event was organized with the help of Mr Ilyas Ayub, Mr Abdul-Aziz and other dignitaries from the host Church.

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Balliol College, Oxford bans Christian Union's stall...

According to the UK's The Daily Telegraph (10 Oct. 17) vice -president of Balliol's Junior Common Room (JCR) baned a stall of students belonging to the Christian Union (CU), on the grounds ath "Historically,  Christianity's influence on many marginalized communities has been damaging it its metos of conversion and rules of practice, and it still used in many places as an excuse for homophobia and certain form so fneo-colonialism." (p10)

To access the full article:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2017/10/10/oxford-college-bans-harm...

 

Comments and Analysis:

I would like to call into question the validity of the following  statement in the above article "Historically, Christianity's influence on many marginalized communities has been damaging in its methods of conversion and rules of practice and is still used in many places as an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism." I am a fifth generation Christian from the part of India which became Pakistan seventy years ago. My ancestors converted to Christianity from "marginalized communities".  I can say with great certainty that  historically, Christianity's  influence on many marginalized communities has been socially life-changing and educationally and economically uplifting. In the life of millions, throughout the world, Christianity has been able to bring positive changes in one generation which otherwise would have taken many.  Its use as "an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism" is a gross exaggeration, at most  it may apply to a few but not "many places" as alleged.   And of course, the students who come to study at Oxford know that this great institution of learning is steeped in Christian culture, Christian values and Christian ethos.  The presence of Christianity in Oxford is among it's assets and not liabilities.  May be, the vice-president of Balliol's  Junior common room  committee  should be more mindful of  "potential harm" that his bias and ignorance can cause to the great traditions of one the  finest institutions of learning.  In matters like these, I wonder, how accommodating will be the centers of higher learning where traditions of other great religions are  part of their cultural heritage?

Naeem Shakir rests in peace

CUWAP Report (09 October 2017): We are extremely sad to announce that Mr Naeem Shakir, Awami Workers Party's (AWP) senior leader and a renowned Human Rights lawyer and activist passed away in his Lord's rest on 8th October 2017, after suffering a cardiac arrest while in USA. The members and supporters of the Christian Urdu Writers & Poets' Organization offer our sincerest condolences and deepest sympathies to the family and friends. Mr Shakir has left behind his wife, and two children (a daughter and a son), and of course a very large number of comrades. He was a  Christian by faith, and a committed socialist in matters of political ideology. 

To access the full article: http://awamiworkersparty.org/adieu-comrade-naeem-shakir-a-committed-revo...

Comments and Analysis

As a Christian from Pakistan, I feel the loss of Mr Shakir to be one of our greatest. It's never a good time to loose a legal mind of his stature, but the timing of his death is espacially unfortunate for Pakistani Christians, as he was a brave and ardent defender of minorities. We, all will miss him. And on behalf of Christain Urdu Writers and Poets Organization we would like to acknowledge his services publically and unreservidly. We also extend our heart felt condolences to his family and loved ones.

Ain Meem Badr Sarhadi rests in peace

The famous columnist, political analyst, writer and theologian, Mr Enayat Masih Badr Sarhadi (popularly known as Ain Meeem Badr Sarhadi), died peacefully in Lahore in the early morning hours of 17th July 2016.  His incisive political analyses, challenging views and prolific expositions will be greatly missed by all those who loved to follow his work. He has left us scores of articles, editorials, essays and critiques, but will be best remembered for his treatise: Nazeriya-e Qaid, Riyasat aur Aqleeyatain.

Rimsha's Case

And the point is...

For over two decades now the minorities in Pakistan have been trying to make one single point about the, now internationally notorious, "Blasphemy laws"; that these laws can easily be  used to harass the minorities and the weaker members of the society (be they from any religious group).  Hence, they need to be revisited.

The potential for the misuse and abuse of these laws is  obvious to anyone even with the most rudimentary knowledge of Pakistani society.

And now  EVEN an  uneducated,    mentally handicapped,   Christian,  girl-child,  slum-dweller of Islamabad, fully comprehends this issue. Even she knows, only too well, that these laws are open to abuse!

How true rings the saying:

You can fool some of the people some of the time,

Some of the people all of the times

All of people some of the times

But you can not fool All of the people All of the time!!!

 Khalid Jadoon Chisti

 

Who is guilty of desecrating the Holy Qur'an?

 

Please click the link below:

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/09/02/news/national/imam-fabricated-evidence-against-rimsha-witness/

Questions that need no answers
The so called Blasphemy Laws have yet again earned Pakistan centre-stage attention in the world media. And what the custodians of justice have not "seen" in their neighborhood  millions have watched throughout the world: thanks to media and social networking sites. The days of hiding the lamps of information under the bushels of rhetoric of ignorance are fast disappearing.

In important issues silly questions almost never need answers; because their underlying  motives  are to either cause distraction or to add to the confusion. A classic use of the logic, if you cannot convince them; confuse them.

In Rimsha's case many silly questions have been asked, one of them being:

How did (or how do) the pages of the Islamic Holy Scriptures get into the homes and hands of Christians in Pakistan? Shouldn't only Christian Scriptures  be found there.

Even a prominent scholar on a TV interview raised the question saying that (only) the Holy Bible or the Injeel should be found in the homes and hands of Christians. And referring to Rimsha's case asserted, that it needs to be established why she had (access to) the pages containing Islamic sacred texts. Given the ground-realities of Pakistan,  I do not feel there is any need to point out the absurdity of such questions, as my reaction here is the same as exhibited by Mohtarma Hina Khar Rubbani, (when she is asked a question about the formulation of Pakistan's foreign policy on ARY news channel ); "I am amazed, I am appalled, and I do not know what words to use".  Pakistan is awash with papers carrying names of holy personages and portions of the Holy Islamic texts. Please consider the following:

1. All children  in Pakistan, Muslim and non-Muslim alike,  use state-approved  text books and these contain material that have portions of Islamic religious texts. These books and Qaidas are part and parcel of the Pakistani children's book sets. They read them, learn from them and carry them around.

2. Nearly every Urdu newspaper and magazine contains special sections which have either the portions of the exact texts or references to Islamic Holy scripture and personages.

With a few linking thoughts I believe the above two statements are  a complete answer to the question.

However since Rimsha's case a third option must be added and always be kept in mind.

3. Malicious individuals with premeditated intentions of sowing evil in the God-given land can plant them as evidence to bring harm to those who are weaker and  poorer.

It would be laudable if Holy Scriptures of various religions were used only for worthy and just causes, then nobody would need to ask silly questions and nobody would need answer them.Unfortunately hatred and spitefulness for Christians in Pakistan is of such a degrees that some Muslims will go to the unimaginable lengths of desecrating their own Scriptures. Need more be said?

Akhtar Injeeli

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