Police asks minorities to secure themselves but when asked for arms license the request was refused!
A directive by the Punjab government to enhance security for minorities’ places of worship has resulted in station house officers (SHOs) passing on the buck by issuing a long list of measures to be taken by the administrations of temples and churches.
After a recent directive issued by the home department for the security of minorities’ places of worship, Christian and Hindu worshippers complained that no steps had been taken on ground. According to a story published on March 31, the home department had directed the police to tighten security in view of possible terrorist attacks.
According to a notice issued by various SHOs to temples and churches of the garrison city, the administrations have been asked to take nine steps for their protection. These include the installation of CCTV cameras, storing one month’s footage, securing the place with barbed wire, eight-foot high boundary walls, setting up a police post on the roof, proper lighting and hiring security guards from a registered company which is verified by the police.
Entry gates and barriers should be installed as well, states the notice. Also, the police should be informed before the start of a ceremony so that they can make security arrangements. Representatives of minorities said provision of security is the responsibility of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB).
“ETPB is the guardian of all temples and it is their responsibility to provide funds for security requirements,” said Hindu-Sikh Social Welfare Council President Jag Mohan Arora. In 2010, we received the same notice and we informed the police as well as EPTB officials, but the latter paid no heed despite repeated requests and visits, he added. “We are in the habit of lamenting after a tragedy occurs but who cares.”
We cannot even arrange sufficient funds for religious ceremonies, how can we set aside such a huge sum to implement these steps? asked Ashok Chand.
Dr Samuel Titus, chairman Clergy Association of Pakistan and pastor St. Paul’s Church, Rawalpindi, said security is provided to big churches only on special occasions. After a suicide attack on a church in Peshawar, the government allowed us to make our own arrangements but when we applied for arms licences, the government rejected the applications.
“We have urged the government to permit arms licences for churches,” he maintained. We are capable of protecting our worship places but the government should also take some initiative. It is impossible for a security guard to stop an attacker equipped with sophisticated weapons with a stick.
Rawalpindi Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Mian Maqbool said, “We have already taken steps to protect churches and temples.” On special occasions like Diwali or Christmas we provide foolproof security to them. “We even provided parking space which was protected.” At the same time, he brought up the issue of a shortage of police personnel, while speaking about enhanced security.
A delegation is expected to arrive for celebrating Besakhi from India on April 10 for which we have made arrangements, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, by Fawad Ali, April 5th, 2014.
Sawan Masih: Conferenza Stampa nella Sala Stampa di Palazzo Montecitorio. Pakistani Cristiani in Italia e i parlamentari italiani insieme per salvare Sawan Masih
mercoledì 2 aprile ore 10.00
Sala Stampa di Palazzo Montecitorio
Ingresso Via della Missione, 4
Pakistan: l’ennesima ingiustizia ai danni della minoranza cristiana. Giovedì 27 marzo il tribunale di primo grado di Lahore ha condannato a morte per blasfemia il 26enne cristiano Sawan Masih, accusato di aver insultato il profeta Maometto. Per denunciare l’accaduto e sensibilizzare l’opinione pubblica, l’Associazione Pakistani Cristiani in Italia, in collaborazione con alcuni parlamentari italiani rappresentati dall’on. Paola Binetti, ha indetto una conferenza stampa che si terrà mercoledì 2 aprile alle ore 10 presso la Sala Stampa di Palazzo Montecitorio. Nel corso dell’evento sarà presentata la campagna di raccolta-firme “Salviamo Sawan Masih”, a cui è già possibile aderire inviando una email all’indirizzo email@example.com, indicando nome e cognome.
Interverranno tra gli altri: on. Paola Binetti, deputato UDC; on. Rocco Buttiglione, UDCPTP; on. Lorenzo Cesa, UDCPTP; on. Gian Luigi Gigli, deputato PI; Sara Fumagalli, presidente onorario Associazione Pakistani Cristiani in Italia; Marta Petrosillo, giornalista esperta di libertà religiosa; prof. Mobeen Shahid, fondatore Associazione Pakistani Cristiani in Italia.
Il verdetto emesso dal Tribunale di primo grado di Lahore non rappresenta soltanto una nuova condanna a morte di un cristiano accusato di blasfemia, ma una prova tangibile della disparità di giudizio nei confronti delle minoranze religiose. Nel marzo 2013 la denuncia contro Sawan Masih ha scatenato l’ira di oltre tremila musulmani che si sono scagliati contro il quartiere cristiano dove l’uomo viveva, Joseph Colony, incendiando 178 abitazioni, una ventina di negozi e due chiese. Oltre 400 famiglie hanno perso la casa, eppure gli 83 uomini ritenuti colpevoli dell’attacco sono stati tutti rilasciati su cauzione. Mentre il giovane cristiano è stato condannato a morte.Intanto dal carcere di Lahore Sawan Masih continua a proclamarsi innocente. La denuncia per blasfemia è stata presentata da un suo amico musulmano, Imran Shahid, con il quale il giovane cristiano aveva avuto un’accesa discussione a causa di una proprietà immobiliare.
È questo un ulteriore esempio dell’uso improprio della cosiddetta legge sulla blasfemia – corrispondente ad alcuni articoli del codice penale pachistano – spesso sfruttata per risolvere questioni personali e colpire le minoranze religiose. La commissione nazionale di Giustizia e Pace della Conferenza episcopale pachistana ha recentemente denunciato il notevole aumento delle accuse di blasfemia contro i cristiani. Su 32 casi registrati nel 2013, infatti, 12 di questi hanno riguardato imputati cristiani: si tratta del 40% delle denunce, in un paese in cui la minoranza cristiana rappresenta appena il 2% della popolazione.
Sawan Masih, un cristiano del Pakistan a Lahore, è stato condannato a morte perchè la polizia l’avevo arrestato per le accuse, false, di blasfemia fatte dal suo amico, di fede islamica, Shahid Imran. Sawan Masih ha 26 anni ed è padre di 3 figli. L’accaduto è che entrambi stavano bevendo alcohl a casa di Sawan quando hanno cominciato a parlare di religione e la discussione è finita in lite. Giorno dopo Shahid Imran è andato dalla polizia per registrare la denuncia contro Sawan per blasfemia. E quando la polizia ha esitato a registrare la denuncia Imran si è rivolto alla communità musulana locale per uccidere Sawan in quanto blasfemo. Così è cominciato il calvario per i cristiani del quartiere chiamato “Joseph Colony” (quartiere di S. Giuseppe) in Badami Bagh (giardino delle mandorle). Una folla inferocita di 3000, insieme ai militanti islamici armati, ha attaccato tutto il quartiere bruciando 200 case con un liquido che non si trova in commercio, rubando tutto quello che c’era nelle case, distrugendo 2 chiese e bruciato decine di bibbie. Quando i cristiani feriti e in pericolo di vita si sono rivolti alla polizia per la protezione hanno avuto la risposta che intanto non è possibile fermare l’attacco e per questa ragione è opportuno che i cristiani non pongano resistenza alla folla inferocita. In questa maniera la polizia ha fatto da pubblico che si è divertito a vedere l’accaduto mentre i cristiani del Joseph Colony hanno visto la distruzione della loro proprietà e risparmi di una vita.
Sawan Masih fu finalmente arrestato 8 Marzo 2013, giorno dopo la distruzione del quartiere di S. Giuseppe, per calmare la folla inferocita. Ma lui dichiarò davanti alla polizia che non ha commesso blasfemia e Shahid Imran vuole solo la sua proprietà. Ma questo non fermò la polizia di registrare la denuncia per blasfemia secondo l’articolo 295C del Codice Penale Pakistano che prevede la pena di morte per chi insulta il profeta Muhammad intenzionalmente o incosciamente. Capo della polizia, Superintendent of Police Hassan Mushtaq Sukhera, ha scritto al giudice, Additional District and Sessions Judge Chaudhry Ghulam Murtaza, per seguire il caso di blasfemia nella prigione visto che c’era alto rischio di vita per Sawan Masih.
Il 27 di Marzo 2014 Sawan viene condannato a morte e gli viene chiesto di pagare la multa di 200,000 ruppie pakistan (circo 1500 euro) dal tribunale di primo grado dal giudice Ghulam Murtaza. La condanna a morte a Sawan è una beffa contro i cristiani del Pakistan. E’ una ingiustizia contro tutti coloro che hanno creduto in Padre della Nazione Muhammad Ali Jinnah e al momento dell’Indipendenza del Pakistan hanno votato per Pakistan. Speravano che avrebbero vissuto da cittadini di uno Stato libero e avrebbero potuto godere di pieni diritti umani.
La legge della blasfemia (l’articoli 295 B-C) del Codice Penale Pakistano continua a fare le vittime tra i cittadini pakistani di tutte le fedi ma in particolare i cristiani e gli indù stanno subendo le conseguenze peggiori. E’ uno genocidio dei cristiani!
(Raja Asghar, Dawn News ISLAMABAD) Two main opposition parties in the National Assembly protested on Friday against a death sentence passed on Thursday by a Lahore court against a Christian man before the uproar was cut short by the deputy speaker belonging to the ruling party.
Shirin Mazari of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and then Shazia Marri of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) complained of persecution of minority communities in the country, particularly on trumped up blasphemy charges as, they alleged, had happened in Lahore a year ago when more than 3,000 people rampaged through a Christian colony and burned some 100 homes after a Christian was accused by a Muslim friend of committing blasphemy during a conversation.
After lawmakers of the two parties seemed unconvinced by a statement by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N’s young member Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, son of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, about the concern showed by the provincial administration over the March 7, 2013 incident and help given to the sufferers of the Joseph Colony neighbourhood, Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi disallowed any more discussion on the Lahore court verdict before adjourning the house.
The convict, Sawan Masih, who heard the sentence of death and a fine of Rs200,000 inside a jail, has claimed innocence and cited a property dispute with his friend as the real reason for the blasphemy allegation.
Ms Mazari called it a travesty of justice that people who burned the colony in Lahore were released on bail while one man tried for a disputed charge had been sentence to death as she also spoke of persecution of minorities in general such as kidnapping of members of Hindu community in Sindh and blasphemy charges brought against Christians mostly in Punjab.
She kept on agitating the issue even after the deputy speaker tried to restrain her, disputing his choice of words in calling the case sub judice even after an additional district and sessions judge, Chaudhry Ghulam Mustaf, delivered his verdict on Thursday and while an appeal to a higher court was yet to be made.
“We are disappointed, we are disturbed,” yelled Ms Marri, before she saw her mike switched off, and then restored briefly, before the chair gave the floor to Mr Hamza Sharif to recall his father’s orders after the incident to rebuild the destroyed Christian homes “within one night” and compensate the sufferers even for losses of jewellery made for weddings, and to assure the house that those responsible for the attack would be brought to justice.
But members of the PPP and PTI seemed unsatisfied and several of them stood up in their seats apparently preparing for a protest walkout while the floor was given to a Jamaat-i-Islami member, Sher Akbar Khan, the chair cited little time left for the Friday prayers to immediately adjourn the house for a two-day weekend until 4pm on Monday.
(On March 27, 2014, Nasir Saeed: CLAAS) Additional session judge Chaudhry Ghulam Murtaza sentenced Savan Masih to death after finding him guilty of blasphemy, and also ordered him to pay a fine of 200,000 Pakistani rupees. This is the punishment for someone found guilty of committing blasphemy against the prophet. CLAAS’s lawyers Naeem Shakir, Tahir Bashir and Nasir Anjum were present in the prison court room alongside Savan. The trial was conducted in prison as CLAAS-PK Director, Joseph Francis, keeping in view the situation, had expressed his apprehension that Savan’s life could be in danger, so he requested the case to be heard in jail for Savan’s safety. This is not the only blasphemy case where this has happened, there are other examples including the trial of Younis Masih. Several blasphemy law victims have been killed during their hearings, including Rashid Emmanuel and Sajid Emmanuel who were killed by extremists in broad daylight in front of hundreds of people in the district court’s compound in Faisalabad, in 2010. Mr Francis has expressed his grief and disappointment over Savan Masih’s verdict as he was very optimistic and expecting an acquittal. He said discussions would begin immediately and that an appeal would be lodged on Saturday in the hope of getting the decision overturned soon. Savan Masih was convicted of insulting the prophet Muhammad last March during a conversation with his Muslim friend. He was accused of blasphemy for allegedly saying “Jesus is true, he is the son of the God. He will come to save me while Muslims’ Prophet (PBUH) is fake”. Savan Masih denied the charges against him asserting that he had said nothing in respect of the prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and that false accusations were made against him because of a property dispute. Savan Masih has been in jail since his arrest in March last year. Savan stayed courageous as the verdict was read and remains strong in his faith, believing that the appeal will be successful as he has done nothing wrong. Meanwhile his family also remain strong in their faith and are hopeful that the decision will be overturned by the grace of God. After the accusation, the whole Christian town of St. Joseph colony- Badami Bagh, Lahore was torched by a Muslim mob and Christians had to flee. The police silently watched while the Muslim protestors stole valuable possessions and destroyed Christians’ homes. Nasir Saeed, Director CLAAS-UK, said that blasphemy laws are being misused to settle person scores.He added: “Unfortunately the blasphemy law has become a powerful tool in the hands of extremists and is continually being used to attack churches, burn down Christian towns and villages and also kill innocent people.” He also said that this law has several flaws and is incompatible with human rights, prompting calls from the international community on several occasions to amend these laws. Mr Saeed concluded: “The government is under pressure from extremist groups and hesitates to bring this matter to the parliament.” He further stated that a week ago a Hindu temple and other properties in Larkana- Sindh were torched and a man was taken into police custody without any proof that he had burnt the Holy Quran. He has not yet been charged under the blasphemy law. Religious minorities, and particularly Christians, are living under constant fear of their lives and secretly migrating to different countries to save their lives. The international community has a responsibility to question the Pakistani government about the deteriorating situation of human rights and minorities in Pakistan.
Many thanks for your prayers for the hearing of Asiya Bibi and Savan Masih, Aasia Bibi’s appeal hearing was canceled as the Judge has gone on holiday but Savan Masih’s hearing went well. Keeping in view the sensitivity of the case, the hearing was conducted inside the jail and CLAAS’ lawyers Tahir Bashir and Naeem Shakir were present there. The next date for the hearing is fixed for the 22nd march and we are hoping that the judge will be able to reach a verdict. If God willingly, the hearing is conducted on the 22nd, and if the judge is courageous and due diligence is applied, we are hoping that Savan will be acquitted. Savan Masih was arrested last year in March 2013 after blasphemy accusations were made against him. Savan Masih has since been in camp jail, Lahore, while his family is being looked after by CLAAS.After the accusation, the whole Christian town of St. Joseph colony- Badami Bagh, Lahore was torched by the Muslim mob and Christians had to flee. The police silently watched while the Muslim protestors stole valuable possessions and destroyed Christians’ homes. Unfortunately, the blasphemy law has become a powerful tool in the hands of the extremist and is continually being used to attack churches and burn down Christian towns and villages and also kill innocent christians without giving them a chance to prove their innocence. Sadly, the government has still failed to bring the perpetrators to justice. CLAAS is among the organisations who are campaigning to repeal this controversial law or at least bring about appropriate changes to stop its misuse. The international community has also called for changes to these laws to be made and also to stop its misuse against religious minorities but it is all falling on the governments deaf ears. CLAAS’s lawyers will be present in camp jail on 22nd march during the hearing. Please pray that everything goes well and that the case is decided in Savan’s favour so that he can be reunited with his wife and children. Please pray that the judges will have the strength and wisdom to make the right decision free from prejudice and with clean, open hearts. Please pray that God will fill the hearts of the judge with a sense of urgency and compassion. Pray that pressure will be brought upon the Pakistani government to modify the Blasphemy Law and also pray that the worldwide Church of Jesus Christ will unite and remember to pray for the Persecuted Church and be filled with an urgency to intensify its prayers for brothers and sisters who are suffering, at a time when hostility towards the Christian faith worldwide is intensifying.
We ask that you pray that God will bring healing and restoration to Savan, Aasia, Zaffar Bhatti and all other victims of blasphemy law whose cases are under trials so that they can be assured that their faith has brought them to a successful outcome.
Nasir Saeed CLAAS
Associazione Pakistani Cristiani in Italia e
Federation of Pakistani Christian Associations ricorda
il Ministro Federale per le Minoranze e martire
Shahbaz Clement Bhatti
(Ucciso il 2 Marzo 2011)
viene offerta la Santa Messa in suffragio
02 Marzo 2014
Alle ore 16:00
Presso la Chiesa di Gesù e Maria
Via del Corso 45 (vicino Piazza del Popolo)
La Santa Messa sarà presieduta da P. Nadeem Albert Yaqoob (OAS)
la partecipazione è aperta a tutti!
Nella commemorazione del Ministro Federale si ricorda il suo contributo per la Chiesa e il Pakistan.
Per informazioni: Shahid Mobeen, cell: 3341427307