Thursday, January 17, 2013

Shamim Masih, Tahir-ul-Qadri and Christian-Pakistani Rights

Tahir-ul-Qadri 2
Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri

John R. Houk
© January 17, 2013

Shamim Masih is a freelance journalist who is a Pakistani-Christian. It is through his post submissions about the plight of Christians in Pakistan that has provided me lenses to view Pakistan. Those lenses are important because is one of the few nations that the American media has reported persecution of Christians. Those reports though are still sketchy on the Pakistan Christian population in general. American media reports too often ignore the persecution of Christians as a whole and focus on individual Christians who have been the victim of Pakistan’s Sharia Law inspired Blasphemy Laws. When a Christian is convicted of breaking a Blasphemy Statute it typically is for being insulting to the Islamic religion or perhaps a Muslim converting away from Islam into the Redeemed life of a Christian. In Islam and in Pakistan the penalty for breaking these Blasphemy Laws is typically a death sentence.

Shamim is a part of a Christian Pakistan movement that seeks greater civil rights for the Christian minority in Pakistan. Christianity is a very small minority in Pakistan. Shamim’s activism for Christians has followed a multi-faith path. If you have read any of my posts about Islam you would be aware that I am not a fan of the religion called Islam. Because of Islam’s theology that actively promotes Muslims to regard non-Muslims as societal pariahs that are only fit for strained toleration. In Muslim majority societies a non-Muslim suffers egregiously for breaking Islamic theo-political rules or laws.

This is just a guess: I sense Shamim has chosen the multi-faith path to bring greater civil rights to Pakistani-Christians is because of a view that the only way toward greater Liberty is with Muslim agreement. Pakistan is littered with what Americans call Radical Muslims. These are the Muslims that take a purist view of the Quran, Hadith and Sira which apart from converting people to Islam is to humiliate or kill those that refuse to convert.

Pakistan was established as a secular Islamic republic at the inception of its nationhood in 1947. As the years have distanced itself from 1947 Pakistan has become more and more entrenched in the purist Islamic thought that revolves around the theo-political jurisprudence of Sharia Law.

Shamim has sent a news piece in which Pakistani-Christians have been led to protest political corruption as local and national elections draw near. These protests have been led by a Muslim with dual citizenship from Canada and Pakistan - Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri. Apparently Qadri has lived the last seven years in Pakistan.

Qadri is a man that a little controversy has followed in the West. Check out this excerpt on how Qadri speaks to English speaking people and along the same theme to Urdu speaking people:

Outside Pakistan, Qadri is often been presented as a “moderate” Sufi scholar who famously wrote a 600 page fatwa against terrorism in 2010 which won him international applause.  However while his work to counter extremists has brought him his share of admirers, there hangs a question mark over the extent of Qadri’s own moderating influence. For example one video doing the rounds over the internet shows Qadri giving what appear to be two contradictory statements on blasphemy – the subject of so much controversy in Pakistan. In one clip he is shown speaking in English where he says: “Whatever the law of blasphemy is, it is not applicable on non-Muslims. It is not applicable on Jews, Christians and other non- Muslims minorities. It is just to be dealt with Muslims.” Yet then in Urdu in a different clip he says:  “My stance was that, and this was the law which got made, that whoever commits blasphemy, whether a Muslim or a non-Muslim, man or woman – whether be a Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu, anyone –  whoever commits blasphemy their punishment is death." (Who is Islamic cleric Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri? And why should Pakistan care? By Syed Hamad Ali; The Independent, 16 January 2013)   

Even with this bit of controversy Qadri is demonstrating a sincere concern for Christian minorities by organizing a series of protests against Pakistani government corruption. The Pakistan government is not pleased with Tahir-ul-Qadri:

Thousands of protesters led by Barelvi cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri rallied in Pakistan’s capital for the third straight day, giving the government until Wednesday night to resign and dissolve the national and provincial assemblies.

The government hit back by issuing warrants to arrest Qadri and 70 others for attacking police, and announced it was determined to complete its five-year term and hold elections only by May. (Qadri thunders, Pak govt shows arrest warrant; by REZAUL H LASKAR & M ZULQERNAIN, The Indian Express, Jan 17 2013, 01:43 hrs)

I don’t know Qadri’s motivation for helping downtrodden Christians; however Shamim seems to write in a positive manner about him. For all the mistrust I have for the religion of Islam, if Tahir-ul-Qadri manages to effect change for the civil rights of Pakistani-Christians I say AMEN.

JRH 1/17/13
 Insensitivity of Pakistani Christian politicians and civil society leaders

By Shamim Masih
Sent: January 17, 2013 8:58 AM


Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri a Muslim religious scholar from Lahore has mobilized about 50,000 devoted followers coming from the lower middle class for a sit-in of the main Jinnah Avenue of Islamabad.  Remarkably, the men, women and children have remained steadfast in this protest rally under extremely harsh winter weather conditions without any shelter.
The Christian protestors are demanding reforms in the electoral system to bring in transparency in the forthcoming general elections and elimination of corrupt practices among the ambitious politicians and parties.  So far, Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri has fairly succeeded in winning the attention of all political players who have recognized the demands of holding free and fair elections through some constitutional reforms.
The Present regime is tense while handling the protest rally on one hand and anxious in fighting judicial proceedings against its stalwarts for mass scale corruption, on the other hand.  The provincial capital of Peshawar is also in the grip of police firing to maintain law and order facing another protest rally against target killings.  Earlier the provincial government in Baluchistan went into [imposed] Governor’s rule after failing to address another issue of target killings of the Hazara tribal Shias.

In the wake of the above critical situations, a criminal silence and a careless attitude of Christian leadership in the country is alarming.  Pakistani Christians express their deep concern for continuation of peace and harmony not only in Pakistan but in the whole world.  There have been many wake-up calls, but Pakistani Christian politicians have gone into a long snooze. The cases of Bishop John Joseph, Shantinagar, Gojra, Asia Bibi and Rimsha are an example of Christian leaders’ callousness.

The local Christian politicians have been making money on the pretext of safeguarding minority rights but these financial resources are being used in getting positions in other political parties instead spending those funds for achieving Christian unity.  Some of them, as Christian representatives, have been a part of the constitutional assembly which approved the blasphemy law and they kept quiet at that time.  Now, we have few Christians political parties registered to contest general elections but have no contact with the Christian community and have not shown any seriousness in guarding Christians’ rights and are rather busy in making deals with major Muslim parties.

When all other parties, groups and organizations can put their heads together and be unanimous on the solutions, why can’t Pakistani Christians sit together for their rights?  Instead of pronouncing moral judgments on everything and anything, why can’t Pakistani Christians stand altogether for their welfare?

It is high time that we define our role as conscious Christians and respect our rights for the better future of Christians in Pakistan. 
Be Blessed,

Shamim Masih
Shamim Masih, Tahir-ul-Qadri and Christian-Pakistani Rights
John R. Houk
© January 17, 2013
Insensitivity of Pakistani Christian politicians and civil society leaders

© Shamim Masih
Christian Rights Activist
Freelance Journalist 
Secretary General

Links and Edited by John R. Houk

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