Dear Friends and Partners,
A Christian neighbourhood in Lahore, Pakistan was attacked on Saturday, March 9, 2013 after rumours spread that a local Christian had made derogatory remarks about the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Christian homes were looted in the Joseph Colony neighbourhood of Lahore and some 160 homes and a church were burnt, many completely destroyed, by a mob of over 3000 local and area Muslim extremists. The individual accused of blasphemy was in police custody while many local Christians fled to safer areas and many lost everything.
John Baird, Canada’s Foreign Minister, has issued a statement condemning these attacks as well as calling on the Pakistani government to prosecute those responsible and to “implement safeguards to ensure that their blasphemy laws are no longer abused”. While we are grateful for Minister Baird’s statement and support for the Christians and other minorities in Pakistan, this is simply not enough. The Blasphemy Laws must be repealed urgently.
Sections 295 B-C of the Pakistani Penal Code (along with sections 298 A-C that specifically target Ahmadis) are so broad and vague that almost any comment or gesture can be interpreted as a violation at a complainant’s whim and fancy. The provisions mandate life imprisonment for defiling, damaging, or desecrating a copy of the Koran or an extract from it and life imprisonment or death for derogatory remarks, direct or indirect, against the Islamic prophet Mohammed.
The Blasphemy Laws are primarily used to pursue personal scores and vendettas and to terrorize minorities, and their very existence undermines any effective freedom of religion in Pakistan. Several years ago provisions were implemented requiring authorities to file a so-called First Information Report before they could lay charges. This requirement was specifically intended to safeguard against “abuses”. However, the very existence of these laws provides Muslim extremists with justification for taking matters into their own hands and mere accusations lead to mob attacks against those accused and their families as well as entire communities even before the authorities are brought into the picture, thus circumventing any supposed “safeguards”.
There is no excuse for keeping these laws on the books and the Pakistani government must take stronger action to protect its minorities. Please join us in speaking out on behalf of our Pakistani brothers and sisters who deserve better from their fellow citizens and from their government.
• for the Christians of Joseph Colony that they would be comforted and encouraged at this time of fear and loss and that they would have the strength and faith to show the love of Christ to their attackers and persecutors even in the midst of such hatred;
• for the Pakistani people, that they would learn to live in peace and harmony and accept each other’s difference and particularly for the Muslim extremists, that they would see the injustice and wrongfulness of their actions and turn from hatred and destruction to seeking peace and goodwill for their non-Muslim neighbours; and,
• for the Pakistani authorities that they would take the safety of their minorities seriously and repeal these laws that breed nothing but hatred and injustice.
The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and write (contact details are included below):
• to the Pakistani representative to your country, demanding that Pakistani authorities prosecute and bring to justice those responsible for the destruction of Christian property in these attacks and repeal the Blasphemy Laws without delay; and,
• to Minister Baird or Secretary of State John Kerry, thanking Minister Baird for his comments and urging both leaders to demand that the Pakistani government ensure the protection of Pakistani minorities and repeal the Blasphemy Laws without delay.
Please remember to send us a copy of your correspondence at:
Remember that the persecuted Christians are dying every day, but they are still smiling. They are in a very deep dark night, but they have the candle of the Lord. The enemy can have a very strong weapon and a very strong army, but we have the Lord Almighty.
“They can kill the dreamer, but they cannot kill the dream” in the Lord’s name.
Be with God and may God be with you.
Rev. Majed El Shafie
President and Founder
One Free World International
El Shafie Ministries
His Excellency Mian Gul Akbar Zeb, High Commissioner
High Commission of Pakistan
10 Range Road
Ottawa, ON K1N 8J3
Tel: (613) 238-7881; Fax: (613) 238-7296
The Honourable John Baird
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
Tel.: (613) 996-0984; Fax: (613) 996-9880
In the United States:
Her Excellency Sherry Rehman, Ambassador
Embassy of Pakistan
3517 International Court NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel.: (202) 243-6500; Fax: (202) 686-1534
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary John Kerry
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Tel.: (202) 647-4000 (Main switchboard)