A 38-year-old layman has been gunned down in Pakistan’s largest city.
Arnold Archie Dass was slain in front of dozens of onlookers in the oldest Christian neighborhood in Karachi. In the decades since property values have risen in the neighborhood, members of the “Muslim land mafia” have been harassing area Christians, the Pakistan Christian Post reported; the area is now predominantly Muslim.
Well, at least this time they have been convicted:
Three Muslims convicted of killing Christian Rasheed Masih, in Pakistan’s Punjab Province for refusing to convert to Islam last year have been given life sentences, according to attorneys for the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) in Pakistan.
The Sessions Court in Mian Channu on July 7 convicted Ghulam Rasool, Amjad Iqbal and Kashir Saleem of torturing and killing Rasheed Masih on March 9, 2010, and sentenced them to life in prison, which in Pakistan is 25 years. The court also ordered each convict to pay 100,000 rupees (US$1,153) to Masih’s family. A fourth suspect, Muhammad Asif, was acquitted.
While Senegalese President funds Marseille’s mosque, churches are attacked in his country.
The World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA-RLC) is calling on the government of Senegal, West Africa to investigate attacks on churches that occurred during recent protests over constitutional amendments.
Protests erupted on June 23 after President Abdoulaye Wade’s government proposed a bill which would change the current requirement of a 50 per cent vote to become president to 25 per cent so Wade could remain in power.
The same day, at least six churches were attacked by mobs. WEA Executive Director, Godfrey Yogarajah, said it is clear the attacks had nothing to do with the protests and were clearly planned and organized to take advantage of the situation.
Saint Eijah's monastery, Mosu, Iraq. The oldest monastery in Iraq. Image via Wikipedia
Anti-Christian violence in Iraq left 92 dead and 47 wounded in 2010, making the year the worst to date for the Christian minority, according to the human-rights group Hammurabi.
Hammurabi reports that all of Iraq’s Christian churches have been badly hurt by violence and by the emigration of families leaving the country to find security elsewhere. More than 800 Christians have been killed in the years since the start of the US-lead military intervention.
Nevertheless the group found that the Christians remaining in Iraq who a strong sense of commitment. On July 4 the Chaldean Catholic Partiarch Emmanuel III paid a courtesy call on Ali al Sistani, Iraqi’s leading Shi’ite cleric, to demonstrate ‘the unity of Iraq and of Iraqis, Muslims and Christians.”
Even when the Copts did not end up behind bars, they did not receive justice. State explained that the Mubarak government sponsored “informal reconciliation sessions” which “generally prevented the criminal prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against Copts, precluded their recourse to the judicial system for restitution, and contributed to a climate of impunity that encouraged further assaults.”
No surprise, failing to exact a penalty for murder and mayhem has led to more murder and mayhem — or what the Hudson Institute‘s Nina Shea called “pogroms and acts of terror.” The failure to punish the perpetrators, complained the Commission, “continued to foster a climate of impunity, making further violence likely.” Even more emphatic was Dina Guiguis of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who told a recent congressional hearing that “the Egyptian regime is fully responsible for creating the fertile ground on which pernicious and egregious sectarian violence has become routine.”
Unfortunately, those who hoped the Egyptian revolution would better protect Christians and other religious minorities have been disappointed. To the contrary, violent attacks on Copts have been increasing.
As of last month 24 Christians had been killed, more than 200 had been injured, and three churches had been destroyed. Muslim mobs have beset Coptic churches, businesses, and homes. Well-armed thugs also attacked Christians who were protesting against the forgoing attacks.
No surprise, then, that few perpetrators have been arrested, let alone imprisoned. Noted Paul Marshall of the Hudson Institute: “as under Mubarak, the authorities’ refusal to punish attacks on Christians has led to more attacks.” The army even assaulted two Coptic monasteries, supposedly to enforce discriminatory zoning laws (which prohibited walls erected for protection from attacks).
A video released in recent weeks, and made available to WORLD this week by two separate Afghan sources, shows four Afghan militants beheading a man believed to be a Christian in Herat Province.The militants, who claim to be Taliban, captured the victim, a man in his 40s named Abdul Latif (according to Obaid Christ, who provided translation of the video), earlier this year from his village outside Enjeel, a town south of Herat.
In the two-minute video, the men, wearing explosive belts (or suicide vests) and kaffiya head scarves to cover their faces, recite verses from the Quran while forcing Latif to the ground and pinning him with their feet. “You who are joined with pagans . . . your sentence [is] to be beheaded,” read one of the militants in Farsi from what looked like a paper decree. “Whoever changes his religion should be executed.” The passages refer to Sura 8:12 (“I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks . . .”) and the hadiths, or sayings of Mohammed.
As Latif fought his captors from the ground, one of the militants thrust a medium-sized blade into the side of his neck. With blood flowing onto the ground the militants shouted “Allahu Akhbar” or “God is great” over and over until Latif was fully beheaded and his head was placed on top of his chest.
Pakistani police have arrested a man suspected of being involved in the March 2 assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, the Catholic cabinet minister slain for his opposition to the nation’s blasphemy law.
A Church official reacted by calling upon authorities to launch a more serious investigation. “We ask the government to launch serious investigations and to urgently predispose all possible means,” said Father Yousaf Emmanuel, director of the bishops’ commission on justice and peace. “We hope and pray that the culprits are caught as soon as possible, so the family and the Christian community can have justice.”
Let’s see if they actually find the culprits and condemn them or it happens as in Gojra killings.
The decapitated body of a Christian man has been discovered in Kirkuk, northern Iraq, a few days after he was kidnapped. Ashur Yacob Issa, 29, was abducted late Friday night or early Saturday morning (13 or 14 May) and his mutilated body was discovered last Monday morning (16 May).
His family had been asked for a ransom but was not able to pay the sum of more than £61,500 the kidnappers demanded.
Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, the charity for persecuted and other suffering Christians, Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk condemned the killing, and went on to pay tribute to the strength and faith of his community despite the continuing threat of violence.
Archbishop Sako said: “In all these years, I have never heard of a single Christian converting to Islam, despite the many threats.”
Pakistan’s fundamentalists are rejoicing following the acquittal verdict. The country’s Christian minority is “under shock” because, this time as well, the massacre of innocent victims done in the name of the infamous blasphemy law will go unpunished. The justice system also shows its powerlessness vis-à-vis extremists who can carry out heinous crimes with total impunity, whilst the government remains silent. Meanwhile, a Muslim religious leader publicly says that Christians “deserve” to be murdered.
A Pakistani anti-terrorism court acquitted 70 people who, in various roles, were involved in the Gojra massacre of August 2009 (see Fareed Khan, “Eight Christians burned alive in Punjab,” in AsiaNews, 2 August 2009). The anti-Christian violence broke out following blasphemy allegations. During a wedding, a group of Christians supposedly burnt pages of the Qur‘an, a pretext used to strike at the religious minority.
In an interview with Samir Qumsieh, director of the Catholic television station Al-Mahed Nativity TV in Bethlehem, (…) he said: “I want to launch a campaign to urge people not to buy these products – he says – because the removal of the cross is an intimidation against Christians, it is like saying that Jesus was never crucified” .
A score of men who have completed their work in the field or in the construction business are going to listen to their imam. Although they acknowledge that Bibi and his family were quiet people who never had problems, that doens’t change their minds: the penal code says that anyone who blasphemes against the prophet should be hanged. At Wali Ittan, that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zadari, has yielded to international pressure (the pope included) and has said it would forgive Bibi, is of little value. “If she is not hanged as the law states, we will kill her,” it’s heard in the group of men. One of them, wearing the traditional salwar kameez, steps forward and says proudly: “I’m ready to kill her.” Abdul Shakoor, 26, is followed by several of his neighbors who share his idea. “I would too,” says Zuqar Nain, 20, with a smile.
The imam of the village, Mohammad Salam, has little time to answer questions before giving his sermon at the austere mosque. It was this long-bearded, 31-year-old man, the one who accused Bibi of blasphemy to the police, in June 2009. He tells us that a group of 25 laborers were on lunch break and that Muslim women would not drink the same glass as used Asia Bibi, the only Christian. She became angry and the argument became so heated that the woman blasphemed Muhammad, said the imam.
What was wrong? “I could never repeat it,” the imam replied angrily. He ensures that it doesn’t matter Asia Bibi is a woman. “She must be punished.” Salam, who learned of the quarrel by a young woman who witnessed it ensures that he conducted his own investigations.Five days after, he denounced her at the police station where, according to Christian sources, Bibi was pressured to convert to Islam. Her alleged offense, they argue, was to say that Jesus Christ is as sacred as the prophet.