We Americans hear most about the atrocities against Christians committed by the ISIS terrorists in the conflict ablaze in the areas of Iraq and Syria. But you have to understand that wherever Christians live in a Muslim dominated nation they are persecuted often in some of the most barbaric ways reminiscent of Early Christianity when the Roman Empire at various time tried to stamp the Christian faith until Constantine the Great embrace it.
Shamim Masih writes about an incident that in America was the Mid-term election. In Pakistan two Christians - a couple – tried to get released from their bondage labor agreement at a brick kiln because the lady was pregnant with their fourth child. The Muslim owner demanded an insurmountable amount of Pakistan Rupees for her release. When push came to shove the Muslim owner decided to be vindictive and a blasphemy accusation was broadcast about them in a Muslim village. The Muslims came out as a mob beat, stripped them for humiliation and tossed them alive into the burning kiln oven.
Rise up for ‘A Cause’
By Shamim Masih
Sent: 11/6/2014 11:00 PM
Sijjad Masih and Saima Bibi
ISLAMABAD: On November 04, 2014, it was bright sunny day in Pakistan, and Shia Muslims were mourning over the incident [that] happened hundreds years ago in Karbala. Due to 10th Muharram event, mobile service was off in the major cities of the country and thus internet was not working as well in our surroundings. In the morning, my friend Sohail Johnson told me on the phone that a mob attacked a Christian couple and burnt their bodies at a brick kiln where they worked. Due to the distortion in the line, I could not hear it clearly but I perceived that the poor Christian couple met a terrible end. Later I got the detailed story. According to details, a Christian married couple, Sijjad Masih (the name mentioned in the FIR) and his wife Saima Bibi (nick name Shama) were beaten to within an inch of their lives and then burnt alive in an oven of a brick kiln. Think of it, all is done in the name of Islam. A false charge of blasphemy was leveled against the couple in what was really a money dispute. The Muslim owner of brick kiln exacted revenge on the non-Muslims by leveling false charges, and the punishments are savage [as in extralegal rather than rule of law].
To me it is not a new story, it has been happening to Christians for many years. And it reminds us of the Gojra incident. The laws of Sharia are used to exact revenge against religious minorities. We don’t as yet know, in the absence of any judicial process, if they were guilty of any offence at all. We do know that blasphemy laws in the country have been frequently misused. It is the same practice, they did [it] in 2009 in Gojra, and [the] seven family members [who] were burnt alive. It is a systematic approach to wipe out the minorities from the Islamic State of Pakistan. First they accuse them of blasphemy by accusing them of desecrating [the] Quran and then killing them. This has been their [Sunni Muslim] long time approach and the World still watches.
The controversial blasphemy laws were formulated in the 1980s during General Zia-ul-Haq’s martial law regime. A conviction or merely an accusation of blasphemy can put one’s life in danger. Even if one is acquitted the fear of death at the hands of vigilantes remains. Even the courts and legislators think twice before dwelling into the sensitivities of these issues.
Around 1300 people have been charged under the stringent blasphemy laws of Pakistan between 1986 until 2014. And according to sources, more than 50 people accused of blasphemy were killed before their respective trials were over. There are 14 people, who were sentenced to death and are waiting on death row and 19 were granted a life sentence. However, the death sentence has never been implemented. Prior to 1986, only 14 cases pertaining to blasphemy were reported.
Blasphemy is a very sensitive subject in [our] country, with even unproven allegations often prompting mob violence. Anyone convicted, or even just accused, risks a violent and bloody death at the hands of vigilantes. In the recent outrageous act in Check No. 59 [i.e. the live burning of Sijjad Masih and Saima Bibi], Sohail Johnson, Chairman, Sharing Life Ministry (SLMP), reached on the spot at once with his team and [expedited] his job, arguing with the officials [even] in registering [the] first investigating report (FIR), collecting ash and body parts of the deceased. He helped to take them and buried them in their parent village Clarkabad [Link]. A few [of the] Christian’s political figures were seen there as well.
Tahir Naveed Chaudhry chairman Pakistan Minority Alliance (PMA) reached there and staged a protest rally on second day of the incident.
Albert David chairman Pakistan United Christian Movement (PUCM) denounced the increasing victimization of religious minorities. He demanded to take strict and immediate action against the people involved in the killing of a Christian couple. He warns the government if the victimization continues people will consider other options.
Sajid Ishaq demanded the government to punish the people who misuse this law. He said the State should made substantial efforts to protect minorities from being victimization by the miscreants. Chief of Pakistani Interfaith League (PIL) declared this incident another example of biased behavior and prejudiced mind sets.
Basharat Khokhar, a human right activist declared this brutal killing an inhuman action. He demanded the authority to punish the culprits to set an example for others. There is not rule of law and minorities especially Christians are targeted time to time, he added.
Some other Christian activists in and outside the country have showed their deep concern about the recent incident. Few political and religious figures were also seen in few pictures. All of these people are doing their job but much require to be done. I think, correctly said Albert David that somehow we are increasingly becoming vulnerable to the discriminatory laws and mob violence. And nobody knows who will be the next victim of this law. The sward is hanging on. We need to step forward and take action against this brutality. Enough is enough; all Christian leadership outside the government, should demand the Christian parliamentarians to stand with the community and demand the government to re-visit this law. I tell you if you have not taken solid step to stop them, tomorrow will be your turn. Look, Salman Taseer, Ex-Governor Punjab and Shahbaz Bhatti were ruthlessly murdered in the capital. And the murderer of Salman Taseer lives comfortably in a special cell at Rawalpindi’s Adiayla Jail.
Christians of the country should demand the government to bring amendments in this law and until then should stop its application. U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has already demanded to stop implementation of blasphemy laws until reforms.
Diplomatic Correspondent covering: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, UN, F & S, MOST, CADD & Human Rights Activist
Daily Khabrian – in Urdu (PakBiz.com description – in English) & Channel - 5 (A project of Khabrian Group of papers)
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Edited by John R. Houk
Text and links enclosed by brackets are by the Editor.
© Shamim Masih