ISLAMABAD: December 14, 2008. (AFP) British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Sunday pledged more technical support and funding to help Pakistan and India battle terrorism in the wake of the attacks in Mumbai that killed more than 160 people.
Brown made the offers as he made whirlwind visits to both nations' capitals and tried to calm tensions following the assaults, which India has blamed on a Pakistani-based Islamist group.
Brown urged the nuclear-armed rivals to cooperate to peacefully resolve the crisis, which the U.S. fears could divert Pakistan's attention away from battling al-Qaida and Taliban militants along its border with Afghanistan.
In Pakistan, Brown met with President Asif Ali Zardari and promised the Muslim nation new bomb-scanning technology, forensic assistance, help improving airport security and other support. He also announced a $9 million program to help fight the causes of extremism and strengthen democracy, including trying to reach out to and educate Pakistani youth to avoid radicalization.
"We will continue to expand our counterterrorism assistance program with Pakistan, and it will be, more than ever, the most comprehensive anti-terrorism program Britain has signed with any country," Brown said at a joint news conference with Zardari.
Brown also said more would be done with both India and Pakistan to share police data on terror suspects and groups.
For Britain, which has a large South Asian population and colonial-era links to the region, the subject is of vital concern. Three-quarters of the most serious terror plots investigated by British authorities have links to al-Qaida in Pakistan, Brown said.
The investigations included the trans-Atlantic airliner plot, where a group of men were accused of trying to blow up several airliners. Three of four British-born men who carried out the London suicide bombings that killed 52 commuters in 2005 had family ties to Pakistan. British citizens were also among the dead in the Mumbai attacks.
"All of us suffer when terrorists are active and are able to impose their will," Brown said.
Brown said he asked Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during breakfast Sunday if he would allow British authorities to question the only known surviving gunman in the Mumbai massacre, and asked Zadari for similar cooperation with arrested suspects.
India has blamed the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba Islamic group for the attacks, an assertion Brown echoed.
"We also know that the group responsible (for the Mumbai attacks) is LET, and they have a great deal to answer for," Brown said.
According to India, the 10 gunmen nine of whom were killed were from Pakistan, as were the handlers, masterminds, weapons, training camps and financing.
Pakistan has arrested some suspected plotters and shut offices of a charity allegedly linked to Lashkar, but it is pressing India to provide evidence to aid in prosecutions.
India now finds itself in the awkward position of potentially having to investigate terrorist attacks hand-in-hand with its longtime nemesis. The two countries have fought three wars against each other since independence from Britain in 1947.
Zardari said Pakistan wants peaceful relations and views the post-Mumbai scenario as "an opportunity to cooperate with India, to take the relationship with India to another level."
Adding to tensions, Pakistani officials said Indian aircraft violated Pakistan's airspace twice Saturday over the eastern city of Lahore and in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
India denied the claims, and Pakistani officials tried to downplay the matter Sunday. Zardari said the incursions were "technical" and that the media were "trying to sell bad news."
Two of the wars the sides have fought have been over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, whose status has emerged as a recurrent theme in the radicalization of young British Muslims. Despite a peace process that began in 2004, tensions remain high between India and Pakistan.
Brown arrived in India following a surprise visit Saturday to Afghanistan, where he met with British soldiers and hinted Britain would provide more troops, saying Europe's streets were safer because of the fight in Afghanistan.
While with Zardari, Brown said he also raised the subject of insecurity along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.
Al-Qaida and Taliban militants have found safe havens on the Pakistani side, to the chagrin of U.S. and NATO leaders who fear the insurgents are using those sanctuaries to plot attacks on their troops in Afghanistan.
Improving the border security "is in all our interest" Brown said, because of the "people practicing terror who are moving with ease."
Brown is leading a review of the U.K.'s strategy in Afghanistan, and an announcement on troop deployment is expected in Parliament this week. American leaders say thousands of incoming U.S. troops will be sent to reinforce British forces in the restive south.
Britain has some 8,200 troops in Afghanistan. More than 130 British soldiers have died there since 2001
Pope: Immigrant kids must be integrated
VATICAN CITY: November 27, 2009. (AP) Pope Benedict XVI says immigrant children must be fully integrated into their new societies and protected from the risks of exploitation.
Benedict made the appeal in a message published Friday to mark the church's World Day for Migrants and Refugees, which is celebrated Jan. 17.
The pontiff says the number of migrant children seeking political asylum is on the rise, requiring coordinated action by governments to ensure they are protected from exploitation and welcomed.
He says young immigrants must be educated and given the opportunity to enter into the work force of their new home countries.
He didn't mention any country by name, but Italy and the rest of Europe have been struggling with how to fully integrate immigrants into society.
Egyptian Christian Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison for 'Insulting the Prophet'
Cairo: March 5, 2012. (AINA) In the latest in a series of "defamation of religion" cases, an appeal has been filed on behalf of an Egyptian Christian
who was sentenced to six years in prison for "insulting the Prophet." Legal observers saw many flaws in the ruling of the judge of the Abanoub misdemeanor court, in Assiut province, while others accused him of appeasing a mob of 2500 Muslims who congregated outside the court and demanded the death penalty for the defendant, Makram Diab. Eyewitnesses reported that some of the Muslims carried knives and wanted to break into the court and kill Diab, but were blocked by the police.
Diab's Muslim defense lawyer, Ahmad Sayed Gabali, said that during his 18 years as lawyer, he has never experienced what he went through in this case. "Over 80 Islamist lawyers representing civil rights claimants filled the court, locked the door of the court from the inside, not allowing the judge out, and prevented me as the defense lawyer from going inside the court and defending my client."
A discussion on February 9 between the Makram Diab, who is a school secretary, and a Salafi school teacher became heated but then simply ended. Thirteen days later, on February 23, another teacher named Abdel-Hamid, who was not present during the quarrel or even at school on that day, filed a complaint with the police, signed by another 11 teachers, accusing Makram Diab of insulting Islam's prophet. "This was a normal quarrel between him and the Muslim teacher," said Gabali, "which could happen anywhere. It was provoked by the teacher, who has been transferred several times from different schools after being reprimanded for causing sedition, and was used by the Salafis for their benefit. This is a group of teachers who used Diab as a scapegoat."
Gabali said that when he approached the court house on the day of the trial, there was a huge mob of Muslims, in addition to high school teachers and students holding banners and chanting Islamic slogans. "We were about 14 to 15 people, including the 12 policemen who were there to secure the court, facing a crowd of over 2500 people." He waited outside in his car, to be called in by the police warden when it was secure for him to go inside, but this never happened.
"The Muslims' plan was to get the police engaged with me, so that they could attack my client inside the court."
The media gave minimal coverage to the case, and no account of the accusation was published, leaving it to the imagination of the readers and viewers.
Stories differ as to what the insults to prophet Mohammad were. According to the official court version, Makram Diab allegedly said that Mohammad sexually harassed his disciples. "This cannot be true at all," said attorney Gabali, who has known Makram personally all his life. "He is simply not capable of it. He is a simple person, who has nothing to do with religion or politics."
Diab's sister Hadia said that her brother simply asked the Muslim teacher whether it was true that Mohammad married 40 wives and the teacher said he would ask and let him know the answer. Michael, Makrab's son, said it was a quarrel. "The Muslim insulted the Christian religion and my father simply answered back. Was my father supposed to be insulted and keep quiet?
Defamation of Religion is considered a misdemeanor under Egyptian law, punishable by a prison sentence of one month to three years. The Abanoub court is a partial court and the judge is not allowed to pass a prison sentence exceeding three years.
Defense lawyer Gabali believes that the Abanoub judge had to pass this flawed ruling as he found himself in the midst of Muslim groups inside and outside the court. "I saw a group of lawyers entering court weeping, literally weeping, to plead with the judge to give the maximum sentence," he added. He said that he tried to solve the matter amicably before it went to court, but the Muslims refused and the reconciliation meeting was cancelled.
He called on the army to secure the court in the appeal session on March 15 in Assuit, "otherwise, we will have a repetition of the Abanoub trial, with mobs everywhere trying to influence the judge morally and religiously." He called on Field Marshal Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed forces to ensure that the trial in Assuit be fully secured by the army outside and inside the court, "otherwise, I cannot guarantee the safety of my client." Makram Diab is kept now in the high security section of the Assuit prison.
Peace process with Pakistan put on 'pause': Indian minister
SRINAGAR: December 16, 2008. (AFP) India's foreign minister said Tuesday the peace process with Pakistan had been put on hold in the wake of last month's Islamic militant attacks on Mumbai.
"I do admit there is a pause in the composite dialogue process because of the attacks on Mumbai," Pranab Mukherjee told reporters in Srinagar, the main city in Indian Kashmir.
"What we expect, and what we have pointed out to (Pakistani Foreign Minister) Shah Mahmood Qureshi, is that Pakistan should fulfil its commitment of not allowing its territory for terrorist attacks against India," he added.
"Words must be followed up with action," Mukherjee said, calling for militant "infrastructural facilities" in Pakistan to be dismantled.
"We expect that good sense will prevail and we expect that the assurances that are coming will translate into action," he said.
In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the official Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported that the Indian government was considering suspending the peace process.
The dialogue, which began in 2004, had already been under serious strain following the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul in July -- which New Delhi blamed on Islamabad.
Last month's attacks in Mumbai killed 172 people and wounded nearly 300 others. Indian officials say the militants were trained and sent by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group.
Mending walls between Pope and Archbishop
VATICAN: November 28, 2009. (By jochanj) Vatican officially announced the meeting between Pope Benedict XVIPope Benedict XVI and the Archbishop of Canterbury as Cordial on Saturday
The Pope gifted the Archbishop with a pectoral Cross and the Archbishop had a ring that Pope Paul VI had gifted to Archbishop Michael Ramsey.
A statement issued just after the meeting of the leaders in Vatican said that the leaders discussed, the need to promote forms of collaboration and shared witness as Christianity all over the world faces challenges. The statement continued to clarify the meeting as the discussions also focused on recent events affecting relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.
The statement affirmed the preparedness of the leaders for shared will to continue and consolidate the ecumenical relationship between Catholics and Anglicans. Soon after the meeting the Dr. Williams, the Archbishop, in an interview granted to BBCBBC said that the meeting had gone smoothly, as well as I could have hoped. I was able to express the concerns which many Anglicans feel in the way the Apostolic Constitution was handled, in the way it was made public, but we moved from there to talk more positive matters of co-operation, and he (the Pope) was extremely enthusiastic about the next stage of official dialogue between the two churches.
Dr. Williams brushed aside the accusation that the Popes move had damaged ecumenical relations. He said, I think not. I think its a pastoral measure for certain people, certain groupings. It is not a new ecumenism, as some people are saying. It is not a new departure replacing the continuing dialogue of the two Churches as Churches.
The suggestion that there is a new track in ecumenism in the Apostolic Constitution is not the case.
In yet another interview with Vatican Radio, the Archbishop said that the misleading messages given out in the manner of announcement of the Popes move had left both the Archbishop and many Anglicans in an awkward position for some time. I wanted to share some of these concerns with the Pope. I think those were expressed and heard in a friendly spirit.
International Christian Voice Canada ICV president resigned
Toronto: March 15, 2012. (PCP) According to e-Mails circulating in bulkmails report that Parvez Masih, President of ICV, have resigned from ICV on March 3, 2012! These are contents of letter from Parvez Masih
My dear Brothers and Sisters,
God bless you all abundantly.
I talked with many of you and appreciative of your frustration about the cause of persecuted Christians being compromised by the Chairman of ICV and its other decision makers. Thanks for being so good to work with your ideas, dreams and suppport for the change. I am also thankful that you have been a great source of inspiration for me in these days to reshape and rebuilt our direction to fulfill the real cause. I believe in your power, passion and energetic support what we really need today to defeat every negative idea to give up the cause, a cause greater than any leader and organization. I want all of you to please become the integral part and centre of our future plans to promote the cause of persecuted Christians with sincerity and solidarity. I would also like to invite all of you to join hands with me to work together with commitment for the cause of our brothers and sisters suffering due to their faith in Pakistan and all over the world. Together we can definitely change the world and be able wipe the tears of our brothers and sisters.
With warmest regards and expectation of positive response from all of you.
March 03, 2012
The Chairman, ICV
Dear Peter Bhatti,
Re: Resignation as President and membership of ICV
As you are aware that I have served the then CLF and now ICV with my heart and soul. Due to my prolonged and close association with Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti, who was more than my brother and my leader, I made myself fully and deeply committed to his cause and vision for our Christian brothers and sisters being persecuted owing to their faith.
After assassination of Martyr Shabaz Bhatti, I have observed that ICV in your leadership seems to be working for your personal goals and against the vision of Martyr Shabaz Bhatti for which he gave his life. As such, leaders and members of ICV were always not being consulted while making some important decisions. As President of ICV, if at any stage, I dared to bring my and other executive members' feelings about your unwarranted and undemocratic attitude that you are running the affairs of the organization for your own motives, you just turned deaf ear to our concern. You always have an attitude to keep things up to you. This has become the main cause that all main executive members have left ICV. Due to the reasons, there is no point for me also to continue as the President and member of ICV.
Keeping in view the stated circumstances, I, therefore, tender my resignation from the position of President of ICV and its membership with immediate effect.
Christmas decorations a reminder of new life from Christ, pope says
VATICAN CITY: December 16, 2008. (CNS) The traditional decorations of Christmas are reminders that the light and love of Jesus Christ bring new life to all who wait in darkness, Pope Benedict XVI said.
The pope spoke about Christmas trees as symbols of new life Dec. 12 when he met a delegation from Austria, which donated the Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square, and he spoke about Nativity scenes as reminders of God's love for humanity when he blessed figures of the baby Jesus Dec. 14 before reciting the Angelus.
"Before the Nativity scene, we experience Christian joy, contemplating in the face of the newborn Jesus the face of the God who drew near to us out of love," the pope said during his Angelus address.
The day's reading from St. Paul, he said, called on Christians to rejoice because the Lord is near.
Although the Catholic Church believes in the second coming of Christ, there is no need for "alarmism," he said. "The nearness of God is not a question of space or time, but a question of love: Love is drawing near."
In the special blessing for the Nativity scene figures, which Roman children brought to St. Peter's Square for the occasion, the pope prayed that the figurines would be signs of the presence of Jesus' love in people's homes and families.
"Open our hearts so that we can receive Jesus in joy, that we always can do what he asks of us and that we can see him in all those who need our love," the pope prayed.
In his Dec. 12 meeting with the Austrian pilgrims -- including the bishop of Sankt Polten, the governor of Lower Austria and the mayor of Gutenstein -- the pope noted that the 120-year-old, 108-foot-tall spruce was the tallest to ever stand in the center of St. Peter's Square.
"In the coming weeks, the Christmas tree will give joy to Romans and to many pilgrims from every part of the world who will come to the Eternal City," the pope said. "I will be able to see it from my window and will enjoy it."
"Its soaring form, its green and the lights on its branches are signs of life," the pope said.
The tree is a reminder that "Christ, the son of God, brings new hope and new splendor to the dark, cold and unredeemed world into which he was born," he said.
In the midst of a rainstorm Dec. 13, hundreds of people joined Vatican officials and the Austrian dignitaries for the tree-lighting ceremony, which ended with the singing of "O Tannebaum."
Dottore Architetto Ashraf Ramelah writes to Coptic Pope
His Holiness Pope Shenuda III, Patriarch and Bishops President of the great Alexandria, I am certain that this open letter will meet various disappointments in the Coptic community
I am certain that you will understand that the only reason I write is my concern for the Coptic situation and your relationship to the Church as its leader. I believe that our Lord wanted you to guide his Church. Meanwhile this does not mean that everything you do meets his will.
For some time, I have been observing the Church leaders statements on various occasions, and I regret to admit that certain reports were against Copts, the Coptic Church, and overall, against Bible teaching.
In all these years, the reports issued by the Church leaders contradicted the facts about Copts and had the goal to help the regime in painting a nice picture for those outside the country so that it appeared without discrimination against the Copts in Egypt.
His Holiness; I can hear your voice whisper, Son, the Church must say certain things for the sake of peace and to protect its sons. The question that comes to mind is how many Copts were killed, or jailed? How many Copts lost their homes and businesses? How many Coptic girls continue to suffer as a result of being kidnapped? How many girls were forced to change their faith? Did the Churchs statements serve to save any Coptic life, home or business? Or more likely, just help Mubaraks regime to attack the human rights of Copts?
His Holiness; The Lord teaches us to stand against the bad without fear, but now it seems that our Church is trying to please a dictatorial regime instead of standing beside its children. For more than 40 years our Church has been under clear attack. We have never heard any Church strong statement condemning any of those barbaric acts!
The sad reality is that all the years the Church covered up the regimes acts of oppression and discrimination against Copts it served to discredit any Coptic human rights issues bringing the suffering of Copts to the international body.
All Copts need to hear straight forward answers from church leaders to the following questions:
- Are Copts living under a regime that oppresses and discriminates against them or is the information reported in various websites, local and international news media incorrect and the Coptic in the Diaspora trying with their false information to discredit the great democratic leader ruling the country for the last 28 years?
- Was the government action to massacre more than 600,000 pigs owned by Copts a plan to damage Coptic income and to force more than two millions Copts to go hungry or to change their faith? The massacre of those animals violated basic animals rights and basic humanity.
- Did the Church create a list of the kinds of food to be eaten that people have to follow? Christ gives us our freedom and no one can take it away. It is written, Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth the man; but that which proceedeth out of the mouth, this defileth the man. Matt 15:11.
The statement issued at the time of the pig massacre indicating that Copts do not eat pork meat is an example of political correctness. The Copts have been subject to the political correctness method for more than 1400 years. Furthermore, to make such a statement goes against Christs teaching in the following scripture, which says, Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.' anything more is from the evil one. Matt 5:37. However, we all know that David, Samson, and Solomon were all chosen of God and each made mistakes.
- When are we going to stand up and ask for our rights as Egyptian citizens and not as Christians living in Egypt? It is both basic and elementary that a human being be treated with respect and treat others with respect.
My final concern is related to a strange comment made by Your Holiness when referring to the candidacy of a Copt for president in the upcoming presidential election. You said that it is not good that one from a minority group become president of a majority group.
I would like to mention something you have forgotten, that of the requirements for making a bid for president:
- The candidate must be Egyptian.
- Copts are Egyptian and they never minded being governed by the non-Coptic.
- The President has to be honest and care about his own country.
In the USA the president today is African-American and African-Americans are a minority in America. They are a smaller percentage of US population than the Coptic minority is in Egypt.
Hundreds of Muslim lawyers block blasphemy alleged Christian victims lawyer entering court in Egypt
Cairo: March 17, 2012. (AINA) More than 300 Muslim lawyers inside and outside a courthouse in the southern Egyptian
province of Assuit today prevented defense lawyer Ahmad Sayed Gabali, who is representing the Christian Makarem Diab, from going into court. Mr. Diab was found guilty of Insulting the Muslim Prophet and was scheduled today a hearing on his appeal.
Attorney Dr. Naguib Gabriell, head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization, said there was terror in the Assiut Court today. He added that he was on his way to court when he was advised that Muslim lawyers have issued death threats to any Christian lawyers who attend the court session. Makram Diab was assaulted by Muslim lawyers during his transfer from the courtroom and security failed to protect him.
Peter Sarwat, a Coptic lawyer, said that Muslim lawyers representing the plaintiffs prevented the defense team from entering court. They said no Muslim will defend a Christian. It was agreed that Christian lawyers would take over and two Coptic lawyers volunteered, but the Muslims decided later that even Christians would not defend him. Sarwat said the Muslim lawyers wanted to assault the chief judge but he managed to leave the court via a rear door.
Adel Ramadam and Ahmad Mohamad Hossam, two Muslim lawyers and activists from the renowned NGO Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) went to court to defend Diabs right to a fair trial but were assaulted by the other Muslim lawyers. They were assaulting us in a beastly and strange way just because we went there to defend a citizen who happened to be a Christian, said Adel Ramadam. He also said that to get out of court was a complex operation and a huge task for the security personnel. We left court in a security vehicle which took us to Security headquarters, otherwise, we dont know what the outcome would have been for us.
Makram Diab, a school secretary was sentenced by the Abanoub misdemeanor court two weeks ago to six years imprisonment on charges of insulting Islams prophet. His defense lawyer, Ahmad Sayed Gabali, was also prevented during that session from entering the court by Muslim lawyers (AINA 3-5-2012).
I went to court today because I believe this citizen was stripped of all his rights, said Adel Ramadam in an aired interview today. He had a quarrel with a Salafi school colleague and then 11 days later, it was suddenly decided by Muslims that they will report the case. He was detained by the prosecution for 4 days and two days later in a 10-minute session and without any defense lawyer present, he was sentenced to 6 years, which is way above the maximum of a misdemeanor case.
Eyewitnesses reported that the Muslim lawyers were armed with clubs. A police captain, b two EIPR lawyer, and two reporters from Ros-el-Youssef and El-Bashayer Egyptian newspapers were injured in the milieu.
Human rights groups reported that they were also forced out of the courtroom by the Muslims. Adel Ramadam said the court session never started because the judge knew that the defense were prevented from entering the court, and knew of the assaults. He just postponed the appeal session to April 5.
U.S. taxpayers give Egypt a billion dollars and our corrupt government is forgiving a billion dollar loan as well. All for sharia. Wake up. The Muslim Brotherhood permits this and their front groups are all over the U.S. Like CAIR: Former Hamas-CAIR official running for president in Egypt, pledges to complete the implementation of Islamic law in Egypt.
No proof of Pakistan link to Mumbai attacks: Zardari
LONDON: December 18, 2008. (AFP) Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari insisted in an interview with the BBC on Wednesday that there was no firm proof linking his country to last month's attacks on India's financial centre, Mumbai.
Speaking to the British broadcaster from Islamabad, he said the investigations into the attacks were ongoing and he would "not jump to a conclusion" on who was responsible until they were complete.
New Delhi has fingered "elements" in Pakistan for the attacks that left 172 people dead, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said militants from Pakistan-based group Laskhar-e-Taiba were responsible.
"What we are saying is that we are willing to cooperate -- and you know like anybody else does, that investigation is an evolving process, it hasn't been long enough" to come to any conclusions, Zardari said.
He added: "I think we will hold our judgement till the proper investigation and conclusive evidence is shared between Pakistan and India, and we're hoping that that would happen because we've asked for a joint investigation."
Put to him that the sole surviving gunman has been identified as a Pakistan national, the president said: "No, we don't know that, we haven't investigated that, we are investigating that position.
"There have been disputed positions in the press... I would say the investigation is ongoing and I would not jump to a conclusion."
However, he said his country was prepared to act if links to Pakistan emerged.
"If that stage comes, and when it comes, I assure you that our parliament, our democracy, shall take the action properly deemed in our constitution and in our law," he said.
The Feast of St. Xavier celebrated in Abu Dhabi
DHABI: December 6, 2009. (By Jochanji) Catholics in Abu Dhabi celebrated the feast of St. Francis Xavier on 3 December with gaiety and splendor.
The celebrations were held at the St. Josephs Cathedral ground, Abu Dhabi.
The services began with the recitation of Holy Rosary at 7.30 p.m. followed by a procession and a concelebrated mass in Konkani, a local Indian tongue. His Eminence Bishop Paul Hinder attended the services and addressed the community.
The Konkani speaking catholic community in Abu Dhabi displays a strong sense of unity with timely celebrations of church services and retreats. They call themselves as the Goan community. The leader of the Goan Community in Abu Dhabi, Mr. John reminded those attended the service, main objectives of the Goan community and thanked the priests and prelate present on the occasion. Fr. Rudolf D Souza, who had earlier conducted a retreat for the community; delivered a homily during the mass, marking the end of the retreat. He said strive hard to achieve your goals and yet it is impossible to achieve anything without God and His assistance.
USCIRF recommends Pakistan to be in list of CPC on Religious Freedom Violations.
Washington DC: March 21, 2012. US Commission on International Religious Freedom USCIRF in its annual report of 2012, have identified Pakistan among World¡¯s Worst Religious Freedom Violators
and recommended US State Department to enlist Pakistan in Countries of Particular Concern CPC.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom USCIRF, a federal government commission that monitors global religious freedom, today released its 2012 Annual Report and recommended that the Secretary of State name the following nations ¡°countries of particular concern¡± or CPCs: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
The USCIR finds that government of Pakistan continues to both engage in and tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief. Pakistan¡®s repressive blasphemy laws and other religiously discriminatory legislation, such as the anti-Ahmadi laws, have created an atmosphere of violent extremism and vigilantism. Sectarian and religiously motivated violence is chronic, and the government has failed to protect members of the majority faith and religious minorities. Pakistani authorities have not consistently brought perpetrators to justice or taken action against societal leaders who incite violence. Growing religious extremism threatens the freedoms of religion and expression, as well as other human rights, for everyone in Pakistan, particularly women, members of religious minorities, and those in the majority Muslim community who hold views deemed ¨Dun-Islamic¡¬ by extremists. It also threatens Pakistan¡®s security and stability.
In light of these particularly severe violations, USCIRF again recommends in 2012 that Pakistan be designated a ¨Dcountry of particular concern,¡¬ or CPC. Since 2002, USCIRF has recommended Pakistan be named a CPC, but the U.S. State Department has not followed that recommendation.
The 2012 report of US commission says that religious freedom situation in Pakistan remained exceedingly poor during the reporting period. The Zardari government has failed to reverse the erosion in the social and legal status of religious minorities and the severe obstacles to the free discussion of sensitive religious and social issues faced by the majority Muslim community. A number of Pakistan¡®s laws abridge religious freedom and freedom of expression. Blasphemy laws, used predominantly in Punjab province but also nationwide, target members of religious minority communities and dissenting Muslims and frequently result in imprisonment on account of religion or belief. While no one has been executed under the blasphemy law, the law has created a climate of vigilantism that has resulted in societal actors killing accused individuals. Anti-Ahmadi laws discriminate against individual Ahmadis and effectively criminalize various practices of their faith. The Hudood Ordinances provide for harsh punishments for alleged violations of Islamic law by both Muslims and non-Muslims. Anti-government elements espousing an intolerant interpretation of Islam continue to perpetrate acts of violence against other Muslims and religious minorities. The government¡®s response to religiously-motivated extremism remains inadequate, despite increased military operations.
USCIRF¡¯s Annual Report highlights the mistreatment of Ahmadis, Hindus and Christians in Pakistan, Buddhists in Vietnam and China, and Baha'is in Iran and Egypt. The report repeatedly notes the brutal assaults endured by Christians seeking to practice their faith peacefully. Muslims, too, suffer in Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan, and non-Muslim nations like Russia and Burma. The Annual Report also calls attention to the promotion of anti-Semitic bigotry in countries as diverse as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
USCIRF also announced that the following countries are on its 2012 Watch List: Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Laos, Russia, Somalia, and Venezuela. While not rising to the statutory level set forth in the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) requiring CPC designation, Watch List countries require close monitoring due to the nature and extent of religious freedom violations these governments have engaged in or tolerated
Multan bench of LHC hears case of two kidnapped Christian teenage sisters and enforced conversion to Islam
Multan, Pakistan: December 18, 2008. (The Sikh Times) After a judge placed new financial and social pressure on the captors of a Pakistani girl who was kidnapped and converted to Islam, attorneys have guarded optimism they can return her to custody of her Christian parents, one news from Pakistan has reported.
Judge Malik Saeed Ijaz ordered the girls husband, Amjad Ali, to pay a dowry of 100,000 rupees (US$1,275) and allow her parents visitation rights, two actions required by typical Pakistani marriage protocol.
So far he has done neither.
The judge gave Saba Masih, 13, the opportunity to talk with her family during yesterdays hearing, but she remained mostly silent behind her veil, offering only blunt replies.
I dont want to see my parents. They are Christians and I am a Muslim, she said, according to her parents attorney.
Her younger sister Aneela Masih, who was also kidnapped but returned to her family three months ago, pleaded with her older sister to return home. The 10-year-old told her that Christmas was coming and she didnt want her sister to spend it with those who are not our people.
Saba Masih appeared at the Multan branch of Lahores High Court yesterday along with her Muslim husband and his family. Her parents filed a contempt petition last month against her captors for failing to follow Pakistani marriage protocol.
Islamic law (sharia), however, gives a wife the right to relinquish a dowry. Lawyers said they fear that the Muslim family will pressure Saba Masih to claim this right in order to offset growing financial pressure.
Lawyers hope that if her mother can visit her, it will convince her to leave her husband and come home to the family; her family believes he has threatened her with violence if she attempts to rejoin them.
At Mondays hearing, Saba Masih still appeared reluctant to return to her family. Relatives said they were praying that she would change her mind and that the captors would lose their influence over her.
The main thing is Saba must be ready herself to come back, said her uncle, Khalid Raheel, the family spokesman. But she isnt ready to come back yet, and I dont know how they are convincing her.
On Wednesday (Dec. 17) the judge is expected to adjourn the case and issue a deed requiring Ali to pay the dowry at the convenience of the Masih family. The judge yesterday threatened Ali with prison time if he failed to carry out this order.
Akbar Durrani, attorney for the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), said the attorneys might try to use Aneela Masihs testimony of kidnapping to take the case to the Supreme Court if other options fail.
The Christian familys lawyer said the attempt to force Ali to pay a dowry was a tactic to mount financial pressure on Saba Masihs husband and to convince her to return home.
Her family and their lawyers believe she has stayed with her Muslim husband because he and his family have issued death threats.
The Christian familys chances of winning run against the judicial status quo for Pakistani religious minorities, but the new push comes after a Sept. 9 ruling that returned Aneela Masih to her parents, a rare legal victory for non-Muslims.
Aneela and Saba Masih were kidnapped on June 26 while travelling to visit their uncle in Sarwar Shaheed, northwest of Multan. Their parents say local fruit vendor Muhammad Arif Bajwa and three others kidnapped them in Chawk Munda, a small town in south Punjab.
Saba Masih was married to Ali the next day. Bajwa and Ali registered a case with the police on June 28 for custody of the girls based on their alleged conversion to Islam.
Local residents regard the men as serial kidnappers with connections to a human trafficking ring. The girls first defense attorney believed they could have been raped and sold to a brothel.
Ironically, attorneys said, the kidnappers alleged desire to exploit Saba Masih may now be the best hope of her returning to her parents, as keeping her has become not lucrative but increasingly costly with court hearings continuing and legal fees multiplying.
These [kidnappers] dont have an emotional link to Saba, Durrani told Compass by phone. They are in the business of prostitution and only wanted to use these girls for their business.
Prosecuting attorneys said they have a growing optimism that they can regain custody of Saba Masih, something they thought unlikely two months ago.
In previous hearings, a judge allowed Saba Masih to choose whether or not she would return to her family, even though Pakistan marriage law requires the approval of legal guardians at the age of 16.
The judge determined that her age was 17 based on her testimony and a report by a medical board pressured by Muslim groups to inflate her age. He did not accept as evidence her birth certificate and baptismal record that showed her age as 13.
Younis Masih and his wife first saw their daughters after their kidnapping at a July hearing. The girls were in the company of 16 Muslims and were said to be under pressure to claim they had converted to Islam.
After Aneela Masih returned to her family in September, she claimed that their captors threatened to kill them and their family if they did not do everything asked of them.
Previously it had been reported that she was raped while in captivity, but there was no medical evidence that she was sexually abused or manhandled, lawyers said.
Her sister appears to be suffering, Durrani said.
The family has told us that Saba Masih is not in good condition most of the time she cries and is not satisfied there, Durrani said.
Kidnapping of Christians in the Muslim-majority nation of 170 million is not uncommon. Many captors believe they will not be convicted if caught due to the penal codes influence by sharia, which grants non-Muslims second-class status in society.
Every year there are cases of Pakistani Christian children kidnapped, killed or exploited by those who believe their parents are powerless.
Last month a Muslim family in Nankan kidnapped the 7-year-old son of Pakistani Christian Binyamin Yusef, 30, over a land dispute. Two days later police found his sons body, which showed signs of torture and rape.
Police did not register the case when Yusef initially approached them. CLAAS representatives hope to open court action against the alleged perpetrators.
Eritrea Imprisons Large Group of Elderly Women
Washington DC: December 7, 2009. International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on December 5 at 4 PM local time, officials of Eritrea arrested 30 Christian women in Asmara, the capital city of the country.
The mostly elderly women were praying together at a house when security forces rounded them up and hauled them off to police station one in Asmara. Their children and grandchildren told our sources that they are concerned about the safety of their loved ones.
Most of the detainees are members of Faith Mission Church, an Evangelical Church with a Methodist background. The church has been carrying out evangelistic and development activities in Eritrea for over five decades and was forced to go underground in 2002 after Eritrean officials required all religious groups to register. The officials then allowed only three Christian denominations to register. The three registered churches are: the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Evangelical Church of Eritrea.
Since 2002, officials of Eritrea have been cracking down on members of both registered and unregistered churches. They have imprisoned more than 3000 Christians keeping them in underground dungeons, mental shipping containers, and military barracks. Several Christians have died inside prisons due to torture and lack of medical attention.
ICCs Regional Manager for Africa and South Asia, Jonathan Racho said We condemn the arrest of the 30 women by Eritrean officials. We urge officials of Eritrea to release the detainees and all the imprisoned Christians in the country. We call upon Eritrea to stop violating the freedom of religion of its people.
Please pray for the safety of the imprisoned women, their release from prison, and for the release of all the imprisoned Christians in Eritrea.
ICV executive Committee express confidence in leadership of Peter Bhatti
Toronto, Canada: March 22, 2012. (PCP) The International Christian Voice ICV Executive Committee expressed full confidence on leadership of Mr. Peter Bhatti, Chairman of ICV in a meeting on March 18, 2012.
The ICV executive met to discuss situation after resignation of ICV President Mr. Pervez Masih and decided to accept it. The ICV Executive flayed allegations laid on leadership of ICV in resignation of Mr. Pervez Masih and urged Christian community in Canada to stand united for Christian cause and to promote vision of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti.
Mr. Bosco Martyrs, secretary General of ICV in a letter have said that ICV is proud of its accomplishments and services for community.
Heres is copy of the letter:
I am writing this letter to you because of an email and a resignation letter you may have received from the ex-President of the International Christian Voice (ICV) Mr. Pervez Masih. First of all, let me apologize for getting all of you involved in this matter by Mr. Pervez Masih. I am sure you have many more important issues to deal with on a daily basis, other than the affairs of our organization, and that if Mr. Pervez Masih gets the glory or not. Since there has been a deliberate effort made through this email to mislead the community, I feel it is very important that you get the correct information regarding our organization and/or our Chairman Mr. Peter Bhatti.
ICV is devoted to the ideals and vision of our late founder martyr Shahbaz Bhatti. Since its inception, ICV has worked tirelessly for the persecuted Christians of Pakistan. We have done so with minimal resources and personnel. No one has worked harder than our chairman Mr. Peter Bhatti who has selflessly devoted his time and money for the cause.
The entire ICV Executive wants to assure you that we support, and will continue to support, Mr. Peter Bhatti 100% in his leadership and all of his work for the oppressed and persecuted religious minorities of Pakistan and elsewhere in the world. As an organization, ICV is proud of its accomplishments and of the fact that all its operations have been totally transparent. We will continue to seek people of good-will from all walks of life to help us with our work.
Furthermore, in regards to the matter of resignation by Mr. Pervez Masih, ICV Executive in a meeting on March 18, 2012, has noted that the distribution of the copy of resignation to the entire community and to the politicians was very distasteful, and is of the opinion that this irresponsible action by him may have caused irreparable harm to the cause of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti. The executive in the meeting expressed great disappointment with his performance over the past year. As a President, he failed to provide leadership and exhibit commitment. His absence during executive meetings was very noticeable and he failed to offer his vision moving forward after the Martyrdom of Shahbaz Bhatti. Also ICV Executive noticed his lack of contribution in regards to resources and influence in organizing ICV events and activities. The ICV Executive believes this resulted in additional responsibilities for the ICV Chairman. In this meeting, ICV Executive unanimously accepted his resignation effective March 3, 2012. We wish Mr. Pervez Masih all the best in his future endeavours.
International Christian Voice Canada
Amnesty International slams Indian anti-terror law
NEW DELHI: December 19, 2008. Amnesty International on Friday slammed Indias new anti-terror legislation to beef up police powers in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, saying it violates international human rights treaties.
The London-based human rights group called on Indias president not to approve the legislation, which would double the number of days police can detain terror suspects before filing charges, from 90 days to 180, as well as boost their powers to conduct searches.
Both houses of Indias Parliament passed the bill this week, following last months attacks on Mumbai by suspected Islamic terrorists that killed 164 people. It now needs President Pratibha Patils approval before becoming law.
While we utterly condemn the attacks and recognise that the Indian authorities have a right and duty to take effective measures to ensure the security of the population, security concerns should never be used to jeopardise peoples human rights, Madhu Malhotra, Asia Pacific Program Deputy Director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.
The governments top law enforcement official, Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, defended the bill in Parliament on Wednesday as providing an adequate balance between the demands of human rights and the people of India for strong anti-terror laws.
The anti-terror bill, which was sent to Parliament along with a bill to create an FBI-style national investigation agency, was meant to beef up the powers of Indias police and judicial system to combat terrorists.
But Amnesty said the process was hasty and would likely undermine the rule of law and violate international human rights treaties. It did not specify the treaties.
In particular, Amnesty raised concerns about the sweeping definition of terrorism, extending the detention of suspects by up to 180 days, denying bail to foreigners who enter the country illegally, and the requirements, in certain circumstances, for the accused to prove their innocence.
It also condemned giving courts the right to close proceedings to the public.
Communist opposition parties had called for changes to the bill, fearing human rights abuses, but ultimately voted in favour.
To detain a person for up to 180 days will be an infringement of his human rights. We are against it, Basudeb Acharia, a senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) told The Associated Press.
Despite Chidambarams assurances, the government has long resisted introducing a tougher anti-terror law since repealing a law written by the Hindu nationalist BJP after coming to power in 2004, saying it was draconian and would unfairly target Indias large Muslim minority.
Indias experience with previous anti-terrorism laws has shown that they can lead to abusive practices, Amnesty said.
UK: Islamic Supremacist Group Launches "Jesus4Shariah" Campaign
Washington DC: December 9, 2009. (REAL) The British Islamic Supremacist group "Islam4UK" led by Anjem Choudary has a new campaign to promote Islamic Supremacism called "Jesus 4 Shariah."
In this latest campaign, this group that has called for Sharia-based stonings, amputations, suppression of women, and support for Jihadist terrorists, seeks to persuade the public that Jesus would be against democracy and would be promoting Islamic Sharia law. Islam4UK plans to schedule a "debate" to prove this point at an unknown location on December 18, 2009 in the United Kingdom.
Among its points, Islam4UK asks:
-- "Is the message of Jesus pro-secular democracy or pro-total implementation divine law within society?"
-- "Would Jesus stand with the oppressed people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine or with the oppressive occupiers?"
The purpose of Islam4UK's December 18 UK event is to provide "the truth of Islam."
Islamic Supremacist Islam4UK Group's December 18 Campaign - Slide 2What Islam4UK does not mention in this latest campaign is who and what its organization represents.
In its failed October 2009 campaign for a October 31 rally (that they backed out of), the anti-democracy, anti-freedom, Islam4UK organization also called for an end to "liberalism" in the United Kingdom and demands that "it is time for authority to be turned over to the Muslims." The Islam4UK group's leader, Anjem Choudary, has praised the 9/11 attackers, sought funding for "mujaheddin," called for oppression of women, and sought stoning and amputations to be part of Sharia law in the United Kingdom.
Two months ago, the "Islam4UK" group stated that it planned -- "On 31st October 2009, at approximately 1 pm, Muslims will be marching in a spectacular procession in support of Shari'ah law. Never before has such an event taken place in the United Kingdom, as thousands of Muslims plan to take to the heart of the Capital and demand the full implementation of Shari'ah law. Indeed, the British society has suffered extensively from the oppression of democracy and man made law, and the Muslims stand united in saying 'Enough is enough.' We have had enough of freedom, and enough of liberalism, it is time for sovereignty to return to the Creator of the heavens and the earth, Almighty Allah (SWT) and it is time for authority to be handed to the Muslims. "
The Daily Express reported in October that Islam4UK stated "we have had enough of democracy and man-made law and the depravity of the British culture.' 'On this day we will call for a complete upheaval of the British ruling system its members and legislature, and demand the full implementation of Shari'ah in Britain.' "
According to the London Evening Standard, the Islamic supremacist group "Islam4UK" is a spin-off from the previously banned "Al-Muhajiroun" led by exiled leader Omar Bakri Muhammed. Al-Muhajiroun has praised the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Omar Bakri Muhammed who continues to broadcast to Islamic supremacists in the United Kingdom via the Internet using the Paltalk tool on a nightly basis (9:30 PM - 11:30 PM GMT), as promoted on the "Islam4UK" web site.
Anjem Choudary, the deputy of exiled radical Omar Bakri Muhammed, has been conducting ongoing operations of the "Islam4UK" organization in the United Kingdom.
Choudary praised the 9/11 attackers along with Omar Bakri Muhammed. Choudary has stated that "Jihad is a duty and a struggle and an obligation that lies upon the shoulders of us all. We will not rest until the flag of Allah and the flag of Islam is raised above 10 Downing Street" He has also stated "if you do not fear your home being raided by the Kufar [non-believer] police, you are not enforcing the Sharia."
As part of his calls for Sharia law in the United Kingdom, Islam4UK's Anjem Choudary has been reported calling for the enforcement of bukhas on women in the United Kingdom, stating: "Every woman, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, would have to wear a traditional burkha and cover everything apart from her face and hands in public." Choudary's calls for Sharia in the United Kingdom have also demanded stoning, stating: "In matters to do with the judicial system and the penal code, one male witness is sufficient to counter the testimony of two females. People who commit adultery would be stoned to death."Street, and a draconian form of sharia law imposed across the UK. He wants alcohol banned, amputations for thieves, and adulterers to be stoned to death." The Daily Mail report quotes Choudary as praising Sharia-based amputations for thieves, with Choudary stating "It is a deterrent. If you steal, you know you will face having your hands and feet cut off." In March 2009, Choudary was quoted by numerous news services for threatening homosexuals in the United Kingdom with punishment under Sharia law.
The July 24 Daily Mail report also addressed Anjem Choudary's "road shows" around the United Kingdom to gain followers for his Islamic supremacist ideology, including small children. The Sunday Mercury has also reported on Choudary's efforts to "convert" small children to his beliefs in the United Kingdom. Choudary has created a "summer school" for Sharia to indoctrinate children, according to reports.
The Daily Mail has pointed out that Choudary "has been secretly taped urging his followers to raise money for Islamic fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq, saying this would help them kill the 'butchers and cowards' from the U.S. and Britain."
In March 2009, reports of Choudary's call for Britons to raise funds for the "mujahdeen" were documented by the London Times and the Daily Telegraph. According to the London Times: "At one point on the tape Choudary says: 'People [are] looking for a place for their money to go so they can go to the front line and they cant find it. You should not think to yourself 'my money, my money' . . . you have [an] opportunity to carry da'wah [the spread of Islam] to society . . . and you have money that can go towards the da'wah, you have money that can go towards the mujaheddin.' "
At big papal Mass in Mexico, bishop denounces drug wars
LEON, Mexico: March 25, 2012. (Reuters) - Pope Benedict drew the largest crowd of his Latin American trip on Sunday, celebrating a huge open-air Mass where a local bishop denounced the "fear, helplessness and pain" caused by Mexico's murderous drug w
On his last day in Mexico, the pope said Mass for a joyous crowd that organizers estimated at 300,000 people at a sprawling park on the outskirts of the central city of Leon.
Long lines of people, many praying, singing and carrying pictures of the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics and Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron, made their way into the Mass site over a period of hours.
Some camped out for more than a day to get a good spot for the highlight of Benedict's three days in the world's second-most populous Roman Catholic country.
As the pope toured the crowd in a "popemobile," he wore a black-and-white sombrero, to the delight of the crowd.
The archbishop of Leon, Jose Martin Rabago, set the tone by spelling out the sufferings of a country where clashes between drug cartels and the state have claimed more than 50,000 lives over the past five years.
"We have been living through events of violence and death that have generated a painful sensation of fear, helplessness and grief," Rabago said in his welcome address.
The archbishop condemned the "perverse roots" of Mexico's problems, which he listed as poverty, lack of opportunity, impunity, injustice and the belief of some that the aim of life was to accumulate possessions and power.
Eight dead in as missile hit northwest Pakistan
PESHAWAR: December 22, 2008. (AFP) Two suspected US missile strikes on a tribal area in northwest Pakistan known as a hub of Taliban and Al-Qaeda activity killed at least eight militants on Monday, officials said.
The strikes were the latest on extremists in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan -- all said to have been launched by unmanned CIA aircraft -- that have raised tensions between Washington and Islamabad.
Two missiles "fired by US drones" struck the villages of Karikot and Shin Warsak in troubled South Waziristan, a senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"Two vehicles fitted with guns were destroyed," the official said, adding that those killed were all inside the cars, which were camouflaged with mud and grass.
It was not immediately clear if any senior Taliban or Al-Qaeda operatives were killed in the strikes, which took place just minutes apart, he said.
Local intelligence sources said they believed the militants killed were members of local Pakistani Taliban groups.
The strikes caused huge fires in both villages, sending panicked residents running into the streets, the security official said, adding that one house was damaged.
Hundreds of Taliban fighters later gathered in the two villages -- both outside Wana, the main town in South Waziristan -- to say funeral prayers for those killed, local residents told AFP.
The suspected US strikes have continued despite a warning by Taliban militants based in tribal territory last month that any more would lead to reprisal attacks across Pakistan.
A spokesman for local Taliban commander Mullah Nazir told reporters that Nazir had pledged to seek revenge for Monday's attack "within three days".
A US missile attack late last month killed Rashid Rauf, the alleged Al-Qaeda mastermind of a 2006 transatlantic airplane bombing plot, as well as an Egyptian Al-Qaeda operative, security officials have said.
Pakistan has repeatedly protested to the United States that the strikes violate its territorial sovereignty and deepen resentment among the 160 million people of the nuclear-armed Islamic nation.
Saleh Shah, a Pakistani senator from the tribal areas, strongly condemned Monday's attacks, saying they were "counterproductive" and would not help restore peace and order in the region.
President Asif Ali Zardari recently promised zero tolerance for violations of his country's sovereignty, but some officials say there is a tacit understanding between the two militaries to allow such action.
More than two dozen similar strikes have been carried out since August, killing more than 200 people, most of them militants.
The top-ranking US military official -- Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff -- arrived in Islamabad on Monday for talks with senior Pakistani officials, officials from both sides said.
Islamabad has come under increased pressure to quash militant activity within its borders, with Washington and Kabul saying it has not done enough to stop militants crossing the border to attack US and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Pakistan rejects those accusations, pointing to its operation against militants in the semi-autonomous Bajaur region bordering Afghanistan. The military says more than 1,500 rebels have been killed there since August.
Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden is widely believed to be hiding in Pakistan's rugged border region, although there is no clear information about his whereabouts.
US Vice President Dick Cheney said at the weekend that he was unsure if bin Laden -- held responsible by Washington for the September 11, 2001 attacks -- was even still alive.
DC Examiner: Protection of religious minorities is major theme of 2009 Human Rights Day News Conference
Washington DC: December 10, 2009. (Justina Uram) âDC-based human rights activists and advocates commemorated Human Rights Day 2009
with a well-attended Human Rights News Conference sponsored by Responsible for Equality And Liberty (REAL) at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. â
â âNot only do we recognize our declaration in support of such universal human rights, but also we remember those who have denied them, including the totalitarian and supremacist nations and ideologies of the world that seek to continue to deny such universal rights today.â â
âIn his opening remarks, REAL founder Jeffrey Imm called for US ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the end of violence against women as priorities in defending human rights. He also focused on the human rights challenges presented by religious supremacism. âWe really need a human rights dialogue on the challenges of religious supremacist threats to our universal human rights.â â
âIn his presentation on the persecution of Pakistani Christians by the Muslim majority, Dr. Nazir Bhatti, of the Pakistan Christian Congress, explained that Pakistanâs strict blasphemy laws allow the killing of religious minorities to go unchecked.â
â âChristians [in Pakistan] are in the process of genocideâ¦The situation of human rights is worsening and persecution of Christians is at a rise in Pakistan.â â
âBhatti warned that Pakistan will continue to breed terrorism unless the United Statesâ government puts conditions on further aid to Pakistan that include the repeal of their blasphemy laws and an amendment to Article 2 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which declares Islam as the state religion of Pakistan.â
âFollowing Bhattiâs presentation, Dr. Ashraf Ramelah, President of the Voice of the Copts, remarked on the oppression of Egyptâs Christians, particularly women and young girls.â
â âCoptic women and girls are targeted for a specific plan of forced Islamization in Egyptâ¦the abduction of Coptic women is not just a passing phenomenon but is part of a widespread plan aimed to clean the Middle East of Christians.â â
âIn addition to denouncing the forced conversion of Coptic women, Ramelah also called for a repeal of Article 2 of the Egyptian Constitution, which declares Islam as the state religion of Egypt.â
âThough both Bhatti and Ramelahâs remarks focused on the human rights abuses faced by religious minorities at the hand of Islam, Imm reminded the group, âwe do not attack or condemn Islam or all Muslims, but we do challenge all human beings to recognize that we face an Islamic supremacist challenge to human rights in the world today.â â
âThe final speaker, Lisa Tao of Falun Dafa turned the conferenceâs focus in a different direction. Giving a heartfelt presentation in her native language, Tao described the human rights abuses she faced as a young girl at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.â
â âMy father was tortured to death. I was called âa child of the Five Black Categories.â My life was full of humiliation and I had to struggle for many years just to stay alive.â â
âTao, who is now an American citizen, explained that she and her husband began practicing Falun Gong to help them heal from the torture they suffered in China. Taoâs translator, 25-year old Pang Jin, relayed the recent arrest, torture, and prolonged detainment of her mother and aunt for their adherence to Falun Gong. â
â âMy aunt was abducted on July 9, 2009 and has been detained since then. On October 18, I was informed that the Weifang City district court, after delaying for a year, sentenced my Mom, Cao Junping, to 10 years.â â
âTao then shared numerous examples of human rights violations by the Chinese government against Falun Gong practitioners and thanked Americans for their support and willingness to hear her story. â
â âI feel that these practitioners are just like my brothers and sistersâ¦We hope Americans, who are kind and righteous, will give a hand to rescue our brothers and sisters and stop this brutal persecution.â â
âClearly, the 2009 Human Rights Day News Conference provided a forum for the discussion of human rights stories and perspectives not often covered by mainstream media. For more detailed information about The Human Rights Day News Conference, please contact the author at The Human Rights Blog. â
Cuba quashes hopes for reform as Pope Benedict meets Raul Castro
Havana: March 28, 2012. (Reuters) Pope Benedict and Cuban President Raul Castro have met for talks on a papal trip that has sparked hopes for economic and political change, but one national leader said there would be no political reform on the commun
Cuban television showed the pope and Castro in the Palace of the Revolution on Tuesday at the beginning and end of an hour-long meeting, but they did not speak to the press. A Vatican spokesman said former leader Fidel Castro, who may or may not meet with Benedict, did not attend the talks.
Benedict arrived for what is the second papal trip to Cuba in history at a time when Raul Castro has initiated reforms boosting private enterprise and reducing the states role. His aim is to strengthen the countrys struggling Soviet-style economy and assure the future of communism.
Some Cubans have expressed hope that economic changes would be accompanied by political change in the country where the only legal political party is the Communist Party, but Marino Murillo, a vice president in the Council of Ministers and the countrys economic reforms czar, told reporters that was not in the cards.
In Cuba there wont be political reform, he said in a press conference at Havanas Hotel Nacional, the international press center for the pope visit.
President hosts Christmas reception
ISLAMABAD: December 22, 2008. President Asif Ali Zardari hosted a reception in connection with Christmas here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr on Monday.
. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani was also present at the reception which was attended by members of Christian community and a large number of Islamabad-based diplomats, including the Ambassadors of United States and China.
Chairman Senate Muhammadmian Soomro, Speaker National Assembly Dr. Fehmida Mirza, a number of federal ministers and members of the parliament also attended the reception.
President Zardari accompanied by Bakhtawar and Assefa cut the Special Christmas cake, wished the participants Merry Christmas and intermingled with them.
The Ambassador of the Holy Sea on this occasion prayed for the peace and prosperity of the world including Pakistan. May this Christmas bring peace across the world, the Ambassador prayed.
Bishop Anthony Logo read the Christmas Message on the occasion. APP
Eritrea Releases Elderly Christian Women
Washington, D.C: December 16, 2009. International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that yesterday at 3:30 PM local time, Eritrean officials released all the Christian women they had arrested on December 5.
The elderly women were detained for praying together at a house in Asmara, Eritreaâs capital. Eritrean security forces raided the prayer meeting and brought them to a police station in Asmara. ICC broke the news of the arrest in a press release issued on December 7. (See: http://www.persecution.org/suffering/pressdetail.php?presscode=352)
Most of the released Christians are members of Faith Mission Church, an Evangelical Church with a Methodist background. The church has been carrying out evangelistic and development activities in Eritrea for over five decades and was forced to go underground in 2002 after Eritrean officials required all religious groups to register. The officials then allowed only three Christian denominations to register. The three registered churches are: the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Evangelical Church of Eritrea.
Since 2002, officials of Eritrea have been cracking down on members of both registered and unregistered churches. They have imprisoned more than 3000 Christians keeping them in underground dungeons, mental shipping containers, and military barracks. Several Christians have died inside prisons due to torture and lack of medical attention.
One of the released women told ICC source that âwe appreciate all the people who prayed for us. Please thank God for our release.â
ICCâs Regional Manager for Africa and South Asia, Jonathan Racho said âWe welcome Eritreaâs decision to release all the women. We urge the Eritrean officials to release the more than 3000 Christians who are suffering in underground dungeons, military barracks, and metal shipping containers.â
Enforcedly converted Hindu women under life threat in shelters
Karachi: March 28, 2012. (PCP) Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC have strongly condemned forced conversions of Christian and Hindu women to Islam in Pakistan
and urged Supreme Court of Pakistan to ensure safety of Hindu girls Rinkle kumari and Dr. Lata to whom it ordered to send to Darul-Aman on March 26, 2012, instead of their request to send them with their parents in court hearing.
Nazir Bhatti said PCC have informations that Muslim clerics and family members of Muslim kidnappers who converted Rinkle Kumari to Islam and forced her to marry with Naveed Shah are threatening her in Darul-Aman Women Shelter of death if she again request Supreme Court to go with her parents in hearing on April 8, 2012.
Rinkle Kumari requested Supreme Court of Pakistan Bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Choudhry on March 26, 2012, Send me with my parents or kill me here in court but dont send me to Darul-Aman. Everyone in Pakistan is hand in glove, there is justice only for Muslims, there is no justice for Hindus and they will kill us". While Dr. Lata Kumari requested Supreme Court Judges that I want to meet my parents and to go with them.
Nazir Bhatti said Everyone knows that Darul-Amans in Pakistan are run by provincial governments where from Supervisor to guards are all Muslim employees who cannot provide free and fair atmosphere to Rinkle and Lata to decide about their future but Supreme Court ordered to send victims of forced conversion to Islam in such Shelters against their will to go with parents
Nazir Bhatti said that Darul-Amans in Pakistan have very bad reputation and scandals of running forced Prostitute Rings of inmate women by Muslim lady Supervisors and let anyone enter at nights on small bribes to guards is common practice. Such incidents have been appearing in press media if any inmate complains but mostly it goes unreported on fear of harsh punishments.
It is Ironic that Sindh High Court not allowed meeting of parents of these forced converted Hindu women nor dispersed hundreds of Muslim gathered in compound to favor Conversion to Islam with banners and play cards and same happens in Supreme Court of Pakistan said Nazir Bhatti
Rinkle Kumari daughter of Nandlal resident of Mirpur Mathello Sindh province of Pakistan was kidnapped on February 24, 2012, and her parents were informed by a Muslim cleric that she have accepted religion Islam. Dr Lata daughter of Dr Ramesh resident of Jaccobabad city was kidnapped from Karachi, whereas another Aasha Devi from Larkana had also been abducted forcibly.
There are hundreds of abduction and forced conversion cases of Christians and Hindu women in Pakistan every year which go unreported due to poverty of parents who cannot afford long legal battles or in fear of influential Muslim kidnappers.
The Islamic law of apostasy which decree death to those who leave religion Islam after conversion keep victims of forced converted women silent that they must be killed and their kidnappers use weapon of apostasy law to refrain them to speak their mind and will freely in front of Pakistani Courts if such issue is brought before them.
Nazir Bhatti said that Supreme Court of Pakistan have never rescued victims of blasphemy law or other Islamic laws while appeal of Christian woman Asia Bibi in Lahore High Court is pending from years who was sentenced to death on accusation of blasphemy.
We have no great hopes in Rinkle Kumari and Lata Kumari kidnap and enforced conversion to Islam case from Supreme Court of Pakistan because it also avoided arrangement of meeting of these women with their parents or let them go with their families as demanded by victims and ordered to send them to Shelters where they are facing pressure and threats from Muslim religious leaders and family of kidnappers of killing on apostasy added Nazir Bhatti
Nazir S Bhatti, Chief of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC said that time have come that Supreme Court of Pakistan may prove that it is higher court for Christians, Hindus, Ahmadi and other religious minorities of Pakistan also nor of Muslims only or it is part of Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan where Islamic laws are upheld.
Pope urges end to 'hatred and violence' in Mideast on Christmas message
VATICAN CITY: December 24, 2008. Pope Benedict XVI urged Thursday an end to "hatred and violence" in the Middle East during his midnight mass Christmas homily ahead of a planned trip to the region.
"Let us pray that peace will be established there, that hatred and violence will cease," he said in his homily, referring in particular to Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Jesus.
Jerusalem's Latin patriarch said on Monday that the pope would visit the Holy Land in May on his first trip to the region as pontiff.
"With joy we would like to announce to you the desire of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to visit the Holy Land as a pilgrim next May," Fuad Twal, the Catholic leader in the Holy Land, told reporters.
It was the first official confirmation of Benedict's widely mooted first trip to the region since being elected pope in 2005.
"The supreme pontiff wishes to pray with us and for us, and to acquire a first-hand knowledge of the hard conditions of our region," Twal said in his Christmas message.
"We are confident in the Lord that this pontifical pilgrimage and pastoral visit will be a blessing for all of us as well as a substantial contribution to better understanding among the various nations of the region, lifting the barriers and helping solve the problems, removing distress and consolidating good relations among people, religions and denominations," Twal said.
He did not give specific dates. "We are studying the programme with the local authorities," he said. Last week the Italian newspaper Il Foglio said the pope would travel to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories from May 8 to 15.
The head of the Catholic Church in his Christmas homily also spoke of the plight of children "who are denied the love of their parents."
"Let us think of those street children who do not have the blessing of a family home, of those children who are brutally exploited as soldiers and made instruments of violence, instead of messengers of reconciliation and peace," he said.
"Let us think of those children who are victims of the industry of pornography and every other appalling form of abuse, and thus are traumatised in the depths of their soul."
Late Wednesday Benedict inaugurated this year's Christmas creche, appearing at his window in the Vatican apartments to light a candle and greet the crowd in St Peter's Square.
The nativity scene depicting the birth of Jesus Christ erected in the famous piazza features figures dating from 1842.
Benedict's predecessor John Paul II paid homage to Italy's longstanding artistic tradition of manger scenes with the first of an annual series set up in St Peter's Square in 1982.
The inauguration of this year's creche was followed by a prayer vigil for peace led by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's "foreign minister".
At midday on Thursday the pope is to deliver his traditional address titled Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) to be translated in 64 languages. AFP
Christmas Bazaars are Joke with Christians in Punjab. Ashfaq Fateh
Lahore: December 19, 2009. (PCP) The Christian leaders have urged the Chief Minister of Punjab Main Shahbaz Sharief for making fun of Christians of the Punjab in their demand to organize Christmas bazaars as were organized during the month of Ramadan
The Christian leaders called an urgent meeting and condemned the notifications issued by the Additional Chief Secretary & Secretary Industries, Punjab who is coordinating the installation of 26 Christmas bazaars in 17 districts of the Punjab. According to the letter, 39000 bags of Atta (wheat flour) of 20 kilogram while 19500 kilogram sugar (390) bags of have been allocated. Rs. 100 subsidy is given per bag of Atta and Rs. 10 per kilogram for sugar. The total beneficiaries will be 39000+19500=58500. The government has allocated Four million ninety five thousand only for the seventeen district where over four million Christian population is living.
Ashfaq Fateh, Christian leader demanded that Christmas bazaars were demanded on the patron of Ramadan bazaars. The chief minister allocated rupees nine billion for Ramadan bazaars for one month while only four million is spent on Christians of the Punjab between Dec 22nd to 24th, 2009.
Rasheed Jalal, district President for minorities PML (N) demanded to raise Quota of Atta from 500 to 2000 bags per day and five bags of sugar to 30 bags per day in each bazaar. The subsidy on sugar and Atta must be raised. Each bag of Atta of 20 kg must be provided at Rs.200 and sugar at least on Rupees 40.
Ayub Anjum, member district Assembly, said, the district administration has asked the Christians to pay the expenses of tentage, furniture, water, security and arrange the cleanings etc. The government has to arrange all this. This is injustice.
Mr. Atif Jamil Pagaan national convener, Pakistan Minorities democratic movement said, Additional Chief Secretary of the Punjab and Roa Manzar Hayat, Secretary Industries and Khalid Hassan deputy secretary were called over the phone and demands have been faxed to them. The Punjab government has been informed if the quota and subsidy on Atta and sugar will not be increased. The Christians will be forced to boycott these bazaars.
Observe the Cross of Jesus sermon by The Very Rev. Canon Patrick Augustine on The Passion Sunday -Palm Sunday, April 1, 2012, at Christ Episcopal Church, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 14: 1-15: 47 (The Passion Gospel)
Observe the Cross of Jesus
We begin this morning the most sacred week of the Christian year. Upon hearing of the accounts of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, and the solemn reading of the Passion of our Lord, one is swept away by the sheer drama. It is also a time of the holiest week in the Jewish year. Historians estimate that there were over 100, 000 pilgrims present in Jerusalem besides its own residents. Looking at the events of this week one is convinced that it is the week that changed the world.
Two separate groups entered Jerusalem on this day. One was the procession of Jesus from the east side of Jerusalem. Jesus rode a donkey down the Mount of Olives followed by a ragtag procession of cheering, adoring crowds made up of the lame, the blind, the children, and the peasants from Galilee and Bethany. Jesus message was of the Kingdom of God and he healed, blessed and gave hope to the common people of Judea and Samaria. Those who were close to him saw him as Messiah, Son of God and Savior. For the oppressed people of Judea this lit a flame of hope in their hearts as they called to him: Messiah has come! He was their Moses and they believed he would deliver them from the bondage of Rome. They welcomed him into their holy city with great shouts of:
Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the Highest heaven (Matthew 21:10).
The other procession was for Pontus Pilate. The Roman governor entered from the west side of Jerusalem. This regal procession was visual panoply of imperial power: cavalry on horses, foot soldiers, leather armor, metal helmets, weapons, banners, golden eagles mounted on poles, sun glinting on the gold. They made commanding sounds: the marching of feet, the creaking of leather, the clinking of bridles, the beating of drums. Pilates procession displayed not only imperial power, but also Roman imperial theology. According to this theology, the emperor was not simply the ruler of Rome, but the Son of God. It began with the greatest of the emperors, Augustus, who ruled Rome from 31 BCE to 14 CE. The other Roman emperors carried the titles son of God, Lord and savior, one who had brought peace on earth. Pilates procession embodied not only a rival social order, but also a rival theology. He was there to reinforce the authority of Rome as trouble was expected at Passover Feast.
Jesus usually avoided pomp and glory, and recoiled from such religious smells and bells. But he let the crowd hail him the son of David holding palm branches in their hands. The son of David was a loaded title at a loaded place. The crowd was excited because it was rumored that a revolution might begin. They waved palms, the national emblem of freedom seekers. Those branches had the same effect as if they were Jewish flags. It looked for the entire world as if the King had arrived in force to claim his rightful throne. This sent a ripple of great anxiety among the religious elites who collaborated with imperial Rome.
The Jewish Sanhedrin called an emergency session raising a loud debate. Above the commotion, the high priest Caiaphas said: You do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish. (John 11: 49-50, 53). They issued the following arrest warrant of Jesus:
Wanted: YESHU HANNOZRI
He shall be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Anyone who can say anything in his favor let him come forward and plead on his behalf. Anyone who knows where he is, let him declare it to the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. 
The Passion narrative from the gospel according to Matthew makes it clear the authorities got what they wanted or so they thought. They couldnt have anticipated the after effects of Jesus death. The crowd was disappointed because Rome wasnt overthrown under Jesus leadership. No one seemed to get it, although the prophet Isaiah had made it plain long before:
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed Isaiah 53: 4-5.
Jesus had mixed feelings during the clamorous parade. St. Luke reports that as he approached the city he began to weep. He knew how easily a mob could turn. Voices who shout Hosanna! one week later shall shout Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Let us ask ourselves what would I have done or said if I had been in that crowd?
We began our service with the triumphant entry of our Lord in Jerusalem. Everybody loves a winner. People in Jerusalem wanted him to be Messiah to free Israel from the Slavery of Romans. But, Jesus had a higher agenda-----to fulfill his Fathers will to free humanity from the power of sin and death. This week as we enter into the passion of our Lord, I invite you to stay awhile with Jesus as the divine drama for the salvation of humankind unfolds. Come journey with him on the road to the cross. Hear the challenging words of Max Lucado:
You have seen it, you have worn it. May be you have even prayed
to it. But do you know it?
Any serious study of the Christian claim is, at its essence, a study
of the cross. To accept or reject Christ without careful examination of
Calvary is like deciding on a car without looking at the engine.
So take a good look at the cross. Examine this hour in history. Look at the witnesses. Listen to the voices. Watch the faces.
MOST OF ALL, OBSERVE THE ONE
THEY CALL THE SAVIOR.
Because what he did is the one thing that matters most of all.
 Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew, Zondervervan Publishing House, 1995, p.190.
 Marcus J. Borg & John Dominic Crossan, The Last Week, HarperCollins, 2006, p.3.
 THE ARREST NOTICE: But for the caption and the last sentence, this proclamation is verbatim from the tradition on Yeshu Hannozri in Sanhedrin 43a of the Babylonian Talmud trans. By Jacob Shachater (London: Soncino Press, 1935), Nezikin V, 281. The last sentence derives from what is probably the NT version of this proclamation in John 11:57.
Masses mourn Pakistan's Bhutto, one year on
GARHI KHUDA BAKHSH, Pakistan: December 27, 2008. (AFP) More than 150,000 grieving Pakistanis thronged the tomb of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto on Saturday, mourning their beloved leader one year after her assassination.
A sea of sobbing mourners, some wailing and beating their chests in a wrenching outpouring of emotion, flooded through security checkpoints into the graveyard in rural southern Garhi Khuda Bakhsh for the commemoration.
Thick fog had stranded tens of thousands on the roads leading into the area early in the day, prompting authorities to delay the start of the proceedings until 4:00 pm (1100 GMT).
Bhutto, 54, was assassinated on December 27, 2007 in a gun and suicide attack at a campaign rally in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, just two months after returning to Pakistan from exile to vie for a third term in power.
Her shocking death threw the world's only nuclear-armed Islamic nation into chaos, sparking violence and leading to months of political turmoil that ended in September when her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, claimed the presidency.
"In the tradition of a true Bhutto, she faced certain death rather than abandon her principles or the people," Zardari said in a message to the nation to mark the anniversary.
"The tyrants and the killers have killed her but they shall never be able to kill her ideas, which drove and inspired a generation to lofty aims," he said, adding that democracy was the only way to fight militancy.
The masses travelled by train, bus, truck, car, bicycle and even on foot to mourn the charismatic, Oxford-educated Bhutto, the first woman to lead a Muslim nation and someone hailed in the West as a face of moderation.
Some slept Friday night in the open in near-freezing temperatures.
Tariq Waseem, a 25-year-old student from southwestern Baluchistan province, walked about 400 kilometres (250 miles) over 10 days with about a dozen friends to be at Saturday's event. But unlike his friends, he walked barefoot.
"These are not painful," he told AFP, pointing with pride at blisters covering his soles. "These are a gift from my martyred leader."
Local police official Tanvir Odho said about 150,000 mourners had flocked to the area to pay their respects to Bhutto.
Ceremonies are expected to culminate with special prayers at 5:20 pm -- about the time Bhutto was attacked.
Around 7,000 police and paramilitary rangers have fanned out around the tomb to protect Zardari, who has said he too is a target for extremists like those who killed Bhutto.
"We do not rule out any threat and we have done all things possible to maintain peace," senior police official Khadim Hussain Rind told AFP.
A special wall has been erected around the mausoleum as part of a raft of precautions taken to safeguard Zardari. Closed-circuit cameras have been installed, and mourners were required to pass through metal detectors.
Both Zardari and the United Nations said they hoped a UN investigation would soon be launched into Bhutto's killing. Pakistani and US officials have pinned the blame on Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud, but he denies any involvement.
One year on, Pakistan's reverence for Bhutto continues unabated -- all television networks ran wall-to-wall Bhutto coverage on Saturday and the government has issued a 10-rupee coin and stamps bearing her portrait.
Hundreds of vendors did a brisk business selling Bhutto memorabilia -- posters, photographs and recordings of her speeches -- ahead of the ceremony.
The government has declared Saturday a national holiday in Bhutto's honour, and events were scheduled nationwide. Candlelight vigils were held late Friday in Rawalpindi and the southern port city of Karachi.
Mohammed Amin, a labourer from Pakistani Kashmir, said he had come to Bhutto's grave without fear, despite threats of violence.
"My leader died in an act of terror, and so if I am killed in a similar act, it will be an honour for me to join my leader," he told AFP.
70 Percent of Humanity Lives in Countries with High Religious Restrictions -- 70 Percent of Those Countries are OIC Nations
Washington DC; December 21, 2009. Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) Communist and OIC nations are majority of those nations denying human religious freedom in the world.
Pew Global Poll: "nearly 70 percent of the world's 6.8 billion people live in countries with high restrictions on religion, the brunt of which often falls on religious minorities."
Pew Global Poll Results - Worst Nations for Religious Freedom
Pew Poll - Very High
Top 5% of scores
Saudi Arabia - OIC Nation
Iran - OIC Nation
Uzbekistan - OIC Nation
China - Communist
Egypt - OIC Nation
Maldives - OIC Nation
Malaysia - OIC Nation
Brunei - OIC Nation
Pew Poll - High
Next 15% of scores
Indonesia - OIC Nation
Mauritania - OIC Nation
Pakistan - OIC Nation
Turkey - OIC Nation
Vietnam - Communist Nation
Algeria - OIC Nation
Turkmenistan - OIC Nation
Libya - OIC Nation
Sudan - OIC Nation
Tajikistan - OIC Nation
Jordan - OIC Nation
Afghanistan - OIC Nation
Morocco - OIC Nation
Laos - Communist
Syria - OIC Nation
Tunisia - OIC Nation
Azerbaijan - OIC Nation
Kuwait - OIC Nation
Kazakhstan - OIC Nation
Yemen - OIC Nation
Iraq - OIC Nation
Cuba - Communist Nation
Oman - OIC Nation
Somalia* - OIC Nation
Out of 43 Nations Ranked "Very High" and "High" in Terms of Deny Religious Freedom - 30 were OIC nations -- 70 percent of the Very High and High Nations Ranked is denying religious freedom - being OIC nations
Saudi Arabia - OIC Nation
Iran - OIC Nation
Uzbekistan - OIC Nation
Egypt - OIC Nation
Maldives - OIC Nation
Malaysia - OIC Nation
Brunei - OIC Nation
Indonesia - OIC Nation
Mauritania - OIC Nation
Pakistan - OIC Nation
Turkey - OIC Nation
Algeria - OIC Nation
Turkmenistan - OIC Nation
Libya - OIC Nation
Sudan - OIC Nation
Tajikistan - OIC Nation
Jordan - OIC Nation
Afghanistan - OIC Nation
Morocco - OIC Nation
Laos - Communist
Syria - OIC Nation
Tunisia - OIC Nation
Azerbaijan - OIC Nation
Kuwait - OIC Nation
Kazakhstan - OIC Nation
Yemen - OIC Nation
Iraq - OIC Nation
Oman - OIC Nation
Somalia* - OIC Nation
Human Right activists to rally for Pakistani Hindus and Christians in Washington DC
Washington DC: April 5, 2012. (R.E.A.L) On Saturday, April 14, a rally will be held in support of human rights and dignity for Hindus and Christians in Pakistan.
The event will be from 1:30 to 3:30 PM at 1615 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20062 in front of the U.S.-Pakistan Business Council and across the street from Lafayette Square Park.
Mr. Jeffrey Imm, Coordinator of REAL said that the coalition supports our Universal Human Rights for all people, including freedom of conscience for all people in every part of the world.
The Organizations represented will include: Hindu American Foundation, Pakistan Christian Congress, Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.), and other activist groups and individual human rights activists. R.E.A.L. has submitted an Assembly Notification to the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia.
The coalition objects to the efforts to deny universal human rights and dignity to religious minorities in Pakistan. As reported by human rights groups, there are hundreds of abductions and forced conversion cases of Hindus and Christian women every year in Pakistan which go unreported.
Recent news has reported on a Hindu family reporting the kidnapping of a 19 year old Hindu girl in Sindh, Rinkel Kumari, who was forced to convert from her religion. The Hindu American Foundation has issued an online petition to U.S. Secretary of State Clinton, for those concerned about human rights to sign, calling for the U.S. Government to intervene on behalf of Hindu girls kidnapped and forced to deny their religious beliefs.
According to the BBC report, Human rights activists say that other reported abductions of members of minority communities in Pakistan, which is overwhelmingly Muslim, have not been properly investigated by the authorities. The Pakistan Tribune also reports on Hindu and Christian girls who have been forcibly converted to Islam.
The Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) coalition calls for the universal human rights of all people, including their freedom, their freedom of conscience, and their right to human dignity. We urge the Government, courts, and the people of Pakistan to act immediately to end abuse of religious minorities, to stop and punish the ongoing kidnappings, and to stop and punish those who would forcibly deny anyone their universal human right of religious freedom and freedom of conscience.
Pope Benedict condemns Gaza violence
Vatican City: December 28, 2008. With a second straight day of violence in the Gaza Strip, Pope Benedict XVI joined many from the world community, sounding off on the conflict.
He gave his strong opinion on the violence, asking the international community to join in trying to help the Israelis and Palestinians reach a peaceful end.
Pope Benedict XVI issued this statement from the Vatican:
"I implore the end of this violence, which is to be condemned in every way in all its manifestations. I implore the re-establishment of the ceasefire in the Gaza strip. I ask for a strong sign of humanity and wisdom from all those who have responsibilities at all levels in that situation. I ask the international community to try every possible way to help Israelis and Palestinians to come out from the dead-end street and to not give up."
Christmas celebrations in Pakistan underway with Carol Concerts and Protests
Rawalpindi: December 22, 2009. (PCP) 20 million Pakistani Christian in Islamic Republic of Pakistan have started celebrations of Christmas with Carol Singing competitions and Protests to repeal blasphemy law.
There is wave of fear among Christian after text messages on hundreds of cell phones with warning of attacks by Islamic militants during feast of Christmas but Christian Colonies are being decorated with lightings and indoor Christmas Trees.
In city of Rawalpindi, on December 21, 2009, a Christian Youth Group led by Mr. Nadeem Joseph and Mr. Imitaz John organized a Christmas program for the children of the "Sacred Heart Church" located in Westridge area with Prayer and Praise.
Mr. Nadeem hosted the program, he told participant that this program is arranged every year for the encouragement and support of the children who are unprivileged so that they can also enjoy and understand the meaning of Christmas.
Many young singers and choirs from different Churches of Rawalpindi were invited. They performed and entertained the crowd.
The Children performed a Christmas Play, then showed different talents while Christmas Message was given by Father Desmond Elijah.
The Christmas cake was cut for the children, then they received gifts from the Father Desmond. In the end Mr. Imtiaz John thanked every who came to attend the program and also appreciated the support of "Pakistan Christian Congress" and thanked Mr. Xavier William for his presence.
Meanwhile, in other part of Rawalpindi, Pakistan Christian Congress council members Mehboob Alam, Saqib Adeel, Zeeshan William and Suleman William led the protest against the Government of Pakistan in conjunction with the UK protest organized by British Asian Pakistani Association and led by Wilson Chowdhry on 19th December 2009.
The Protest start at 1.00 PM from Sadiqabad, near Holy Family Hospital where Father Anwer Patras and many other joined and chanted slogans against the Government for immediately repelling the Blasphemy law and give justice to the victims of the Gojra incident.
Father Anwer Patras addressing the protest stressed that the Christians should unite and stand against the Government. The Government immediately should repeal the Blasphemy law by an executive order, equal rights should be given to the Christians and the victims of Gojra should get justice. Mehboob Alam and Saqib Adeel also addressed the participants and demanded to be treated equally.
In the end Mehboob Alam thanked the participants for attending the protest and said that President of Pakistan Christian Congress Dr. Nazir S. Bhatti is the true voice of the 20 Million Christians. He also said that the PCC is growing in the Rawalpindi District under the leadership of Xavier William the PCC Joint Sectary. The procession walked all the way to the Murree road and then dispersed peacefully.
There were mixed mute celebrations of Christmas celebrations in other cities of Pakistan,
Raymond Durrani raises issue of Asia Bibi in 2nd Canadian parliamentary forum on religious freedom
Ottawa: April 5, 2012. (PCP) Mr. Raymond Durrani, Central Committee Executive of Pakistan Christian Congress for the Canadian Chapter participated
in 2nd Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom and Governance on invitation of Government of Canada, held at Govt. Conference Centre, Main Hall, Ottawa on April 2nd, 2012.
PCC leader Mr. Raymond Durrani questioned the Hon. Bob Dechert MP and Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. John Barid about the anonymous motion passed in the House of Commons instructing the Government of Pakistan to release of Asia Bibi who had been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned.
Mr. Durrani asked whether a reply from the government was received and if was what and if not what is government doing to tackle the ignorance of Government of Pakistan for not coming back with a reply. Further, he asked what is the intention of the government of Canada would it consider filing a case with the United Nation for any recourse to get the attention of the Government of Pakistan for release of Asia Bibi and many others rotting in the prisons of Pakistan which are plagued with deplorable and unbearable condition on top of the treatment they receive from the members of the Muslim Extremists who manage those prisons?
Majority of the questions from the audience were from the people from the Pakistan origin who drew the attention of the panelists in particular, the attention of the MPs of the current government for the persecution of largest minority of Pakistan, members of the Christian nation. Mr. Vincent Samuel from Hamilton explained as to how members of the Christian nation are impacted and suffering from the government of Pakistan polices such as nationalization of all the elite Christian institutions like Schools, Colleges and Hospitals which provided jobs and resources to support their livelihood and created a climate of deprivation after the nationalization.
Leader of Pakistan Christian congress PCC who heads PCC Canadian Chapter Mr. Durrani also suggested the Hon. Dechert and other MPs whether it would be possible to attach any further financial aid given to Pakistan to such issues of lack of religious freedom provided to the minorities of Pakistan particularly, the largest minority, and the members of the Christian Nation. Mr. Durrani was advised that the reply will be sent to him after consultation with the right party when the parliament reconvenes.
The forum was opened with welcome by David Anderson, a backbencher MP and Mr. Bhatti of ICV, whileThe Examination of Governance by Michael Van Pelt, Editor, Researcher and Robert Joustra, President of Cardus a think tank capacity institution. Both described the role of religion and governance while freedom being the core issue at hand for discussion.
The Reality of Religious Restrictions by Mario Silva editor of International Journal of Rights and Security/former Liberal backbencher MP, Scott Reid a backbencher MP of the current government, Mohd. Jebara of Cordova Academy and Hon. Bob Dechert, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. John Baird. Each one examined the role of religion and its freedom and responsibilities the governments have towards good governance what role the governments play in protection of religious minorities etc. It is important to note that all the MPs stressed on freedom for religious minorities around the world. It is intention of this government to raise this issue to the countries in violation of this freedom countries like Pakistan and Iran for example to mention, said Bob Dechert MP and Assistant to Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Role of Social Media was narrated by Mr. Brian Lilley, Host Byline, and Sun News Network. He explained how the social media like the Facebook can pick on the issues discussed on TV networks and or printed in major news papers around the world. It is a very powerful tool which connects people to study the issue and draw conclusion satisfactory and acceptable by the general public of all religious organizations.
Brian Lillyey was also held responsible to Call to Action Discussion He opened the floor to the audience who were given the opportunity to ask questions, display suggestive views on issues discussed by the four panelists. It is important to mention that Imam Mohd. Jebara left the Forum soon he finished his part and it was his part which most of the audiences question but he wasnt there to answer may be he knew what he said and decided to leave rather than face the criticism good for him.
Need for sobriety, solidarity: message of Pope Benedict
Vatican City: December 31, 2008. Pope Benedict XVI has called for "sobriety and solidarity" in 2009 as the world struggles with economic and social woes
His appeal was made amid the splendour of St Peter's Basilica during a New Year's Eve vespers service.
Pope Benedict described these times as being "marked by uncertainty and worry for the future" but told the faithful not to be afraid.
He urged governments to help families in difficulty and said Catholic charities were doing as much as possible to help out.
A choir sang during the service, attended by cardinals, other clergy, pilgrims and tourists
Prayers, Blessings and Greetings on Christmas for Pakistani Christians. Inderias Bhatti
Lahore: December 25, 2009. (PCP) Inderias Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian congress Lahore Council, released his Christmas message to the members and Christian friends of the congress.
Along with prayers, blessings, greetings and well wishes he wrote the following words as per of his massage.
The Christmas has variations about:
And many more;
These may be doubts and/or conspiracies;
But its is a time;
When Gods passion;
Lived with us on Earth;
In Love of God;
He shared Love;
To the broken;
And built a religiosity;
Of physical togetherness;
Based on LOVE;
And not guilt and feeling of sinfulness;
And thus brought;
A living passion on earth;
A spirit of Christmas;
And left behind;
His spirit to us;
To hold it firmly;
And to move on with it;
Being beyond from any;
Doubts and conspiracies!!!
May God continue to bless you, your families, our country and our planet with all the worldly and divine sanctions!!!
Meanwhile, Secretary General of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC, Mr. Morris Sadiq, Ms. Agnes Massey President of Canada PCC, Xavier William Joint Secretary PCC and many other regional offices of PCC issued greeting messages on Christmas 2009 and wished happy New Year to Christians in Pakistan.
Pope celebrates Easter mass
Vatican City: April 8, 2012. (AP) Pope Benedict XVI is celebrating Easter Sunday mass in sun-drenched, flower-adorned St. Peter's Square, before tens of thousands of people.
Vatican City: April 8, 2012. (AP) Pope Benedict XVI is celebrating Easter Sunday mass in sun-drenched, flower-adorned St. Peter's Square, before tens of thousands of people.
Benedict sounded hoarse and looked tired at the start of the Mass at an altar set up on the steps outside St. Peter's Basilica.
Late Saturday night, the Pope held up well as he presided over a three-hour long Easter vigil service inside the church.
Easter is Christianity's most joyous day. The faithful celebrate their belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
At the end of Easter Mass, Benedict will go to the central balcony of the basilica to deliver a speech. Benedict, who turns 85 on April 16, was wrapping up stamina-taxing Holy Week ceremonies that drew huge crowds to Rome.
American Pakistani Christians condemn statements of Pakistani ambassador in USA; Nazir S Bhatti
Philadelphia: December 31, 2008. Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC has strongly condemned statement of Pakistani ambassador in USA that Christians are enjoying equal rights in Pakistan.
In a New Year dinner to American Pakistani Christians hosted by Pakistani ambassador who was extremist Muslim and member of Jamat-e-Islami Pakistan turned to be moderate Muslim made statement that Christians are enjoying equal rights in Pakistan.
Nazir Bhatti said It is shameful for American Pakistani Christians to attend dinner of Pakistani ambassador because these Christians were asylum seekers in USA against persecution on religion in Pakistan
If Samuel Mall and Anjum Bhatti who made statements on dinner of Pakistan Embassy in USA on New Year think that Christians have equal rights in Pakistan then they must abandon their asylum and go back to Pakistan added Nazir Bhatti
People like Samuel Mall and Anjum Bhatti are agents of Pakistani establishment who were granted asylum but they are supposed to go back to Pakistan when they laud minority rights in Pakistan in presence of Pakistani ambassador.
Pakistani Christians are treated as second-class citizens and blasphemy laws are hanging like sword on their necks.
The Christian women are abducted and forcibly converted to Islam in Pakistan. The Christian youth is denied equal right in job opportunity.
Nazir Bhatti said PCC demands US Justice Department to review cases of American Pakistani Christians who were granted asylum in USA on their persecution in Pakistan but now they declare that Christians have equal rights in Pakistan and enjoying religious freedom. Such asylum seekers must go back to Pakistan because they claim that there is no more persecution in Pakistan
Nazir Bhatti said that few Christians who were low profile leaders in Pakistan like Samuel Mall and Anjum Bhatti are damaging cause of Christians and performing duty of agents of Pakistani embassy and their statements are not true index of situation of Christians in Pakistan.
Christians in Pakistan are being persecuted and there is no social justice in Muslim dominated society in Pakistan
PCC condemn statement of Pakistani ambassador that Christians are enjoying equal rights in Pakistan because Christians are suffering genocide in Pakistan.
Nazir Bhatti said PCC will file memorandum with UNO to grant refugee status to Christian on constitutional genocide of Christians in Pakistan
Pope carries on after attack
VATICAN CITY: December 26, 2009. (AFP) Pope Benedict XVI, bundled to the ground by a woman who surged past guards to assault him during Christmas Eve mass at the Vatican, carried on with his heavy seasonal duties as normal Saturday.
The pope was unhurt in the dramatic attack in St Peter's Basilica, while a prominent French cardinal was among others who fell in the confusion and will receive a hip replacement Sunday morning, a Vatican spokesman said.
The Pope appeared serene as he waved from his balcony above St Peter's Square to pilgrims assembled in the rain for Saturday's Angelus prayer.
The night before Benedict had spoken confidently in his Christmas Day "Urbi et Orbi" blessing to tens of thousands of pilgrims, and in his homily Saturday he again made no mention of the attack.
Benedict appealed for prayer to support the "many believers who, in many parts of the world, endure tests and suffering because of their faith".
The assailant, identified as 25-year-old Susanna Maiolo who has Swiss-Italian nationality, told doctors she "did not want to hurt" the pope, La Repubblica newspaper reported.
The Vatican said the woman tried a similar manoeuvre at the Christmas Eve mass one year ago but was stopped by security.
Maiolo's case will be decided on by the Vatican "in the following days" according to spokesman Federico Lombardi, as they wait for medical reports from the psychiatric hospital where the woman has been placed.
Lombardi said that "the matter is more to cure her" than to judge her.
Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, 87, was receiving visitors Friday at the Gemelli hospital in Rome, Lombardi said, describing him as well "both physically and mentally" and "optimistic about the operation".
He is facing the situation "with his usual courage and optimism", Lombardi said, pointing out that the cardinal had recently returned to his functions after a health problem and "not long ago" came back from a trip to Vietnam.
PCC Holland Chapter's grave concern for safety of lives at Siachen Glacier's incident.
Holland: April 11, 2012 (PCP) Mr. Parvez Iqbal, President of Pakistan Christian Congress Holland in his statement showed her grieves on Glacier incident in Pakistan where precious lives of Pakistan Army soldiers are still breathing (God's willing) u
In a message to families of the soldiers, after hopeful prayers for the safety and lives of their love ones. Mr. Iqbal said indeed this is difficult time of waiting, but you are not alone, we all are with you from every corner of the world, spiritually we are standing with you.
Since this is biggest incident at Siachen. We pray for safety of the Pak Army soldiers under the snow as well as the will of Lord of Father in Heaven. We worship ever living God and expect a biggest miracle in circumstances, said Mr. P. Iqbal.
Pope says economic crisis needs more than quick fix
VATICAN CITY: January 1, 2009. Pope Benedict ushered in the New Year on Thursday by appealing for solidarity worldwide to fight global poverty made worse by the financial crisis.
The Pontiff, delivering a traditional New Year prayer for peace, said the economic downturn needed more than quick fixes and should be regarded as an opportunity to narrow the gap between the haves and the have nots.
"This crisis needs to be looked at in depth, as a grave symptom that requires intervention on its causes," the Pope told crowds gathered in a rainy St. Peter's Square.
"It is not enough -- as Jesus would say -- to put a few new patches on an old garment," the Pope said, adding that the world's poor and their needs must become a priority.
In recent months, the German-born Benedict has sharply criticized the global financial system, branding it as self-centred, short-sighted and lacking in concern for the destitute.
"The current global economic crisis must also be viewed as a test: are we ready to look at it, in all its complexity, as a challenge for the future and not just as an emergency that needs short-lived responses?" the Pope said.
"Are we prepared for a deep revision of the dominant development model to correct it in a concerted and far-sighted fashion?
"The state of the planet's environment and above all the cultural and moral crisis ... are demanding this, even more than the immediate financial problems," he added.
During mass at the Basilica, Benedict reiterated his appeal for an end to the conflict in the Gaza Strip, saying that violence was also a form of poverty and that a large majority of Israelis and Palestinians wanted peace.
Security Heightened After Attack On Pope
Rome: December 28, 2009. Security is tighter around Pope Benedict in the aftermath of an attack on the Pontiff during Christmas Eve Mass.
He appeared to be in good shape as he visited a soup kitchen in Rome on Sunday.
The Pope ate with 150 people, including a Muslim political refugee and a 90-year-old Italian widower.
On Christmas Eve, a woman lunged at Pope Benedict, dragging him down as she was quickly tackled by security agents.
Vatican officials say they will consider security measures, but don't want to do anything to keep the Pope from being in touch with crowds.
Pakistan-India wars hero Pakistani Christian Pilot of PAF Cecil Caudhry passed away
Lahore: April 13, 2012. (PCP) Pakistan Air Force former Group Captain, a Pakistani Catholic Christian, Cecil Chaudhry passed away today in a long battle with cancer
After retirement from PAF, Cecil Chadhry was serving in Catholic Missionary School of Lahore Dioceses and taking active part in social uplift of Christians.
Cecil Chaudhry was born in Lahore in 1941 where his father Faustian Elmer Chaudhry was working as Press Photographer in a prestigious newspaper Pakistan Times . His interest in aircraft and flying brought him to the PAF and he graduated in 1960. He soon established himself professionally and in 1965 was working as Flight Commander (Training) under the renowned Squadron Leader Sarfraz Rafiqui. When war broke out on 6 September, 1965, Cecil busied himself flying numerous Close Support missions to ward off the Indian ground attack against Lahore and Sialkot. He was detailed to fly a dusk strike mission against Halwara under the command of Squadron Leader Rafiqui. There were unavoidable delays in their take-off and Halwara got forewarned because of the successful PAF strike against Pathankot. When Rafiqui, Yunus and Cecil reached their target Halwara, they were intercepted by numerous Hunter aircraft of the Indian Air Force. During the engagement, after shooting down one Indian Hunter, Rafiquis guns jammed and he handed over the lead to Cecil. The three fought bravely against heavy odds but Rafiqui and Yunus were shot down while Cecil managed to return safely after shooting down a Hunter. The loss of his mentor Rafiqui and friend Yunus enraged Cecil and he fought the rest of the war aggressively and with determination. For his acts of courage, dedication and professional ability, Cecil received the Sitara-i-Jurat.
During the 1971 war also Cecil, by now a Squadron Leader, fought with valour. On 7 December, during his second mission of the day over Zafarwal-Shakargarh sector, Cecils aircraft was hit by ground fire and badly damaged. He had to eject in enemy territory but he managed to make good his escape and reached Sargodha base safely. He continued to fight valiantly despite fractured ribs and exacted his revenue on 11 December, when he managed to shoot down an Indian SU-7 fighter right over the area where he had lost his aircraft.
During the course of his service, Cecil commanded the prestigious No 9 Squadron and the Combat Commanders School PAF. He retired in 1986 in the rank of Group Captain. Not one to sit idle, he took time to educate himself and subsequently became the Principal at St. Anthonys School at Lahore. He continues to turn out scores of motivated young men who are bubbling with zeal and enthusiasm to serve their country with dedication, pride and honor.
Yemeni Jews forced to leave their villages
Sana'a: January 5, 2009. The Yemeni Jewish community in Raida, north of the country, will move to the capital Sana'a after receiving death threats from tribal and religious extremists,
Jews and local official sources said on Friday.The whole Jewish community, which has 266 people, will move tomorrow from the town of Raida in Amran province, to a governmental residential complex in the city of Sana'a, the sources said. "The Jews were given an ultimatum till tomorrow to leave or convert to Islam from the relatives of Abdul Aziz Al Abdi, who is being tried for charges of murdering Mousa Yaish - a Jew - last December in Raida," said Yahya Mousa, the Rabbi of the Jews living in Sana'a. "Two days is not enough for packing everything, but they cannot stay any longer because officials and tribal chiefs have told them to leave by tomorrow," said Mousa. The Rabbi said the Jews do not want to leave their houses, but they are afraid for their lives especially after the government told them to move for their own security.Small communities"In the threats, they asked us to stop the Israeli air strikes on Gaza, yet we are Yemeni citizens and we strongly condemn the attacks," said the Rabbi. Rabbi Yahya Mousa has been living in a government residential complex in Sana'a along with 66 other Jews since early 2006 when Al Houthi rebels forced them to leave their villages in Al Salem in Sa'ada province. The 332 people, the two small Jewish communities of Raida and Al Salem, are the only Jews remaining in Yemen after tens of thousands migrated to Israel.About 50,000 Yemeni Jews immigrated to Israel during 1949-1950 in the so-called 'flying carpet' trips.The relatives of Al Abdi, who said he killed the Jew last December to get closer to Allah, also sent murder threats to local journalists in Amran for reporting about the hearings of the trial."I received murder threats from relatives of Abdul Aziz Al Abdi, they do not want me to write about the murder, they do not want me to write about the trials," said journalist Mahoud Taha.
Christian employees face police case and torture by TMA on Christmas Day in Pakistan.
Pakpattan: December 29, 2009. (PCP) A Muslim Sanitary Inspector of Tehsil Municipal Administration TMA was beating and openly manhandling Christian Sanitary workers in broad daylight
on streets of Pakpattan city of Punjab province who were insisting to go for prayers on 25th December, the Day of Christmas in Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
When poor Christian employees of TMA reached to lodge complain on inhuman behavior and beating of Sanitary Inspector Mohammad Attique Butt, DCO Pakpattan ordered police to register case against Christians.
The Punjab Government and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had proudly announced holiday for Christian employees for December 25 and 26, a two day leave with pay for thousands of Christian employees to celebrate Christmas.
The Tehsil Municipal Officer Pakpattan Mohammad Aslam Gujar and Sanitary Inspector Mohammad Attique Butt forced Christian employees to clean roads of Pakpattan city instead of going for prayers on Christmas Day defying orders of Christmas Holidays announced by Chief Minister of Punjab Government.
When All Christian Communities Alliance ACCA President Javeed Sahotra, Secretary General Nadeem Hamid Gill along with other leaders Khalid Nazir and Sabar Masih intervened in matter to get relief for Christian employees, the TMO Mohammad Aslam Gujar refused to listen their plea and denied Christians to offer their Christmas prayers.
The poor Christian Sanitary workers started cleaning streets and roads on Christmas Day and were crying with tears Listen to our Voice Masihia Free us from slavery Why it is Black Christmas for us
The All Christian Community Alliance ACCA team started video recording of crying Christians who were cleaning streets and weeping but Sanitary Inspector Attique Butt called other Muslims and snatched camera and took out cassette and threatened ACCA team of dire consequences.
The DCO instead of listening to Christian employees directed police to register case against Christian employees and 5 other Christians. In FIR number 908/2009, under section 186 and 427 Pakistan Penal Code registered in Pakpattan City Police Station have charged ACCA leaders Sarfraz Masih, Nadeem Hameed, Sunny Barkat, Rawal Barkat and Hamed Masih while Christian employees Daniel Masih, Saleem Masih, Sarfraz Masih and others have been charged.
Mr. Javeed Sahotra Advocate, President of ACCA have strongly condemned torture of Christian employees and enforced working on official Christmas holidays.
He appealed to Chief Minister of Punjab to take action and cancel FIR against innocent poor Christian employees.
Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC expressed grave concern on broad day light beating by Muslim Sanitary Inspector and treating Christian employees like bonded labour on Christmas Day.
Listen voice of voiceless Christians in Pakistan being treated like slaves by Muslims in every walk of life that we are human beings not animals, stop oppression and persecution and give us due equal rights until it is too late said Nazir Bhatti
Nazir Bhatt said Christians of Pakistan were demanding FIR against Muslim Attackers of Kalar Kahar on injuring 65 Christians on Christmas day but not any FIR was lodged while in Pakpattan Christians were beaten and charged in FIR by Muslims.
Nazir S Bhatti, Chief of PCC urged Chief Minister of Punjab to withdraw false FIR against Christians and take immediate action against Mohammad Attique Butt and TNO Mohammad Aslam Gujar of Pakpattan TMA.
Christian parliamentarian from Sindh not feeling safe in Pakistan
Karachi: April 18, 2012. (PCP) Mr. Saleem Khursheed Khokhar MPA Sindh, Chairman Standing Committee on Minorities Affairs Sindh and President All Pakistan Minorities Alliance APMA Sindh Chapter
has urged Interior Minister of Pakistan to provide him adequate security because he has life threat on speaking for rights downtrodden Christian community in Pakistan.
Mr. Khokhar has submitted a written request with Interior Ministry of Pakistan for his security on April 17, 2012, detailing threats to his life.
The Christian member of Sindh Assembly have informed Government of Pakistan The undersigned would like to drawn your kind attention to the prevailing scenario / circumstances in Pakistan pertaining to the blasphemy law / accusation on the Members of religious Minorities particularly the Christian community in Pakistan
Mr. Khokhar added in his security plea As you are aware that the important public officials and members of the Provincials and National Assemblies, even the Provincial Governors are not safe and are victim of this blasphemy law. Recently, the Governor of Punjab Honble Salman Taseer was killed by one of the guard because he was favoring a Christian Lady namely Asia who has been sentenced to death on accusation of blasphemy of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H).
It is further pointed out that recently in Provincial Assembly Sindh where the undersigned along with other respected members of the assembly moved a resolution condemning the act of division of Sindh in the name of Muhajir Sooba resultantly the all the mover of the said resolution have been harassing / threatening of dire consequences from the unknown criminal elements
Mr. Saleem Khursheed Khokhar MPA said Keeping in view of the aforesaid scenario / grounds you are therefore requested to beef up security and I should be given protection by the State as promptly
Pope calls for Gaza peace talks, deplores violence in Congo
VATICAN CITY: January 7, 2009. (CNS) As fighting continued in the Gaza Strip, Pope Benedict XVI urged Israelis and Palestinians to end the violent, armed clashes and start peace talks.
"Hatred and the rejection of dialogue bring nothing but war," he said after reciting the Angelus Jan. 6 with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.
"Today I would like to encourage the initiatives and efforts of all those who, having a heart of peace, are trying to help Israelis and Palestinians agree to sit down together and talk," he said.
He prayed God would help sustain the dedicated efforts of these "courageous builders of peace."
The pope also appealed for an end to the "inhumane brutality" unfolding in eastern Congo where some 20 children were abducted over the Christmas period by armed bandits who launched attacks against villages, leaving many people dead or injured.
Caritas Congo reported Dec. 29 that the children were abducted as child soldiers for the Lord's Resistance Army -- a Ugandan rebel group. Caritas Congo is the local affiliate of the international Catholic umbrella group Caritas Internationalis.
Caritas said violence in the region flared in late December leaving hundreds of people dead. It said 50 bodies were found in the courtyard of a Catholic church in Doruma on Christmas morning.
The pope urged those responsible for such "inhumane brutality to give the (kidnapped) children back to their families" so that the future of these young people may be safe and fruitful.
The pope made the appeals on the feast of the Epiphany, which is a national holiday in Italy and is largely dedicated to children.
He said he was praying for the world's children, especially those experiencing a troubled childhood.
The violence against children worldwide "appears even more appalling considering that 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child," he said.
He called on world leaders to renew their promises to defend, safeguard and foster the development of the world's children.
Pope Benedict noted that the Epiphany was dedicated to the Holy Childhood Association, a children-supported missionary organization that works in more than 100 countries. He thanked young people for their support of works that are designed to aid the world's needy.
Bishop Ijaz Inayat on New Years Resolutions 2010 for Christians in Pakistan
Karachi: December 31, 2009. (PCP) In a message Bishop Ijaz Inayat, wishes Happy New Year to Christians in Pakistan and adding
Assuming that we are all Christians the beginning of the New Year is an indication that another year has gone by and we are still alive. This is calculation of time given to each one of us
PCP presents contents of message by Honourable Bishop Ijaz Inayat for readers as:
Need to know each one of us has a task to accomplish within the time given. To live, work for earning, raising children and die is a life cycle which would end one day.
Towards the end of the year I raised a very vital question, Define need, greed and wishes in relationship with the Lord which further leads us to revisit our relationship with the Lord and people around us who are Gods people and our own.
Most of us have been living for ourselves and our families which are good to a certain extent, but there are duties and responsibilities beyond that.
Most of the world does not feel accountable beyond a limit of their own choice.
There are three main areas which need our immediate attention from accountability point of view.
1. Personal and family life.
2. Spiritual life.
3. Social life. This does not limit to the nearest/immediate society around us.
Remember God is giver of all things life, time and resources. Trusting this we are accountable to the Lord for all three of them because we are stewards. Also remember time and life if gone never come back and we cannot buy these with any wealth of the world.
There are three accountability courts we have to face at all times.
1. The court of our own conscious where we are answerable for all we do no matter we know it or not. An alive conscious is the lamp of the Lord. There fore learn every thing about our role in all walks of life from the Word of God, from wise persons and the law.
2. The second court we always face is that of the society around us. Since the world is a global village, now we have/or must get knowledge about the geo-political and economic issues which directly effect mankind. There are forces which exploit conditions for benefits. These forces include Governments, alliances, lobbies (even with in churches) which abuse for the sake of power and resources, underground groups who try to benefit from all places against merit and so on.
Over eating, remain relaxed as a bystander where you voice could bring about a change are such vital poisons we often dont consider.
We have a role towards all these concerns. Thinking our selves responsible and acting accordingly will defiantly change the world into a better place and our own lives. We cannot neglect the duties towards other even if we are living in a much settled and developed part of the world.
3. The third and most high is the Court of our Lord. That is where our thoughts, word and deeds are evaluated on daily basis, while we also will be facing the last Day of Judgment.
My personal assessment is that if every person feels accountable in all the three daily courts, we may have a bright future for all people living in the world specially the suffering world of Christians in Pakistan.
The resolution for this New Year for many would be to allow Jesus to take the driving seat in our lives, taking Him as our role model and master who was suffering at the hunger and sickness of the people around Him and wanted to heal the mankind as a whole, spiritually and physically.
Wishing you all with a blessed "New Year" with Jesus in the driving seat for the rest of the lives.
New Year celebrations started a few moments ago in Sydney.
Nigeria: Pope Benedict Xvi Honours Remi Oyo
Kano: April 23, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday bestowed the honour of Papal Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great on the Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Oluremi Oyo.
Honoured alongside her were the wife of the governor of Kaduna State, Mrs. Amina Yakowa and Prof. Esther Oyeyi of Bayero University, Kano.
The medals were presented to the new Dames on behalf of the pope by Most Rev. John Osa, the Bishop of the Catholic archdiocese of Kano.
In a papal message presented Most. Rev. Osa at the ceremony held at Our Lady of Fatimah Catholic Church, Kano, the pope said: "Having listened with a willing spirit to the petitions made to me and accepting the request that you richly deserve some reward for your work for the Church and the good of Catholic affairs, we choose to make you and declare you Dames of The Order of St. Gregory the Great."
The message was signed by Tercisio Cardinal Bertone, Secretary of State at The Vatican.
In his homily, the Bishop thanked God for a hitch-free investiture and prayed that God would fan into a flame the gift He had bestowed on the recipients.
He also implored parents to take a cue from the parents of the award recipients by educating the girl child and moulding them to be successes in their endeavours.
Osa also called on Nigerians to support the transformation agenda of the Federal Government, stressing that Nigerians would not benefit from the agenda if they did not give it their support.
He urged the recipients to live exemplary lives in the area of governance, in their offices and in the community.
The order of St. Gregory the Great is the most recognisable and the most frequently bestowed Papal award.
Pope Gregory the XV1 founded the Order on Sept. 1, 1831 in two divisions; the military and civil divisions.
The Holy See bestows the honour on well deserving lay members of the Church as a mark of recognition of their talents and contributions to the service of the Church and society.
Present at the investiture were the spouse of Dame Oluremi, Vincent, that of Dame Amina, Gov. Yakowa and that of Dame Oyeyi, Raphael.
The Pope on Sunday also bestowed Papal Golden Medals to Mrs. Bennie Ikhena and Mrs. Angela Bejide making them Ladies of the Catholic Church. (NAN)
PCC vows to file petition with UNO to grant refugee status to Pakistani Christians. Nazir Bhatti
Philadelphia: January 7, 2009. (PCP) Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC vowed to file memorandum with Secretary General of United Nation New York offices on January 12, 2008,
to grant Pakistani Christians a refugee status after polls on PCP when more them sixty two thousand voted to file this petition.
I condemn Pakistani establishment to use its machinery to vote against issue and raised negative votes up to sixty nine thousands within two nights which have been recorded by our web commands said Nazir Bhatti
Dr. Bhatti added I congratulate thousands of Christians who voted in favor of PCP polls which are ever biggest vote on any website around world on any polling
Christians are being persecuted and under constitutional genocide and reserve right of refugee status under UNO charter.
The government of Pakistan failed to oblige equal basic democratic rights to Christians and ensure justice to minorities.
Thousands of Christians have fled from Swat valley after taking over by Taliban and more are fleeing Peshawar and Nowshera districts of NWFP on threats to convert to Islam.
Nazir Bhatti said that in such mass movement of Christians on life threats by Taliban and failure of government to protection, the Christians deserve refugee status.
Malaysian Muslim activists oppose 'Allah' ruling
KUALA LUMPUR: January 2, 2010. (AFP) Muslim groups in Malaysia have voiced opposition to a court ruling allowing a Catholic paper the right to use the word "Allah", and said Saturday they plan to demonstrate.
Malaysia's high court ruled Thursday that the Herald weekly had the right to use the word "Allah" after a long-running dispute between the government and the paper in the Muslim-majority nation.
The Herald has been using the word "Allah" as a translation for "God" in its Malay-language section, but the government argued "Allah" should be used only by Muslims.
The court ruled the Catholic paper had the "constitutional right" to use the word 'Allah', declaring the government's ban on the word "illegal, null and void". Government lawyers have not yet decided whether to appeal.
Muslim groups have opposed the ruling.
"The court decision is not right and we are planning to hold a major demonstration to protest this," Syed Hassan Syed Ali, secretary general of Malay rights group Pribumi Perkasa told AFP.
He and 50 other Malay activists held a small protest over the ruling outside a central mosque Friday.
"We fear that the court victory will mean that Christian missionaries will now use the word, confusing (the identity of) Muslims and undermining religious harmony," he said.
Federation of Malay Students' Association advisor Reezal Merican said although the court decision had to be respected, the government needed to appeal it.
"We want to live in peace with all religions here but the word Allah has traditionally in Malaysia been used to represent the Muslim God, which is different from Christianity, and this must be addressed," he told AFP.
Northern Perak state mufti Harussani Zakaria was also critical of the verdict, calling it "an insult to Muslims in this country," according to the influential Malay-language Utusan Malaysia newspaper.
The Herald is printed in four languages, with a circulation of 14,000 copies a week in a country with about 850,000 Catholics.
The court case was among a string of religious disputes that have erupted in recent years, straining relations between Muslim Malays and minority ethnic Chinese and Indians who fear the country is being "Islamised".
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"Trial of Pakistani Christian Nation" By Nazir S Bhatti