Case Study of Pakistan: The Fallacy and Myth of Islamic Tolerance In Religion
More stories of Muslims killing and persecuting Christians
Islam: Truth or Myth?start page
Table Of Contents:
Acknowledgments And Expressions Of Gratitude
THE UNVEILING OF PAKISTAN
Preparation and Direction
Treatment of Christians Generally
Persecution by Police Misconduct
Pastor Arther Salim
Persecution under the Constitution
Persecution by Islamic Religious Ordinances
The Blasphemy Law
Manzoor Masih (Deceased), Rehmat Manzoor, Salamat Masih, and Judge Arif Iqbal Bhatti (Deceased)
Saleem and Rasheed Masih
Persecution by Hudood
Nagina Masih and Ghulam Masih
Nadia Masih, Naima Masih and Nabila Masih
Persecution by Destruction of Property
St. Peter's Church
The Village of Qila Didar Singh
The Christian Colony in Sahiwal
The Settlement of Shantinagar
Persecution in the Judiciary
The Shariat Courts
Mohan L. Shahani
A Plea And A Pledge
This report is dedicated to all those Christians who have given up their lives for the love of their Saviour, both in Pakistan and in other countries of the world, and to the bereaved widows and the orphans of these martyrs.
This report also is dedicated to all those Christians who continue to give their lives in service to His cause daily by working tirelessly against persecution, being the voice of the voiceless and the face of the faceless.
Our prayer is that this unveiling will make a difference in the lives of the Christians in Pakistan and of other Christian victims of persecution.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS AND EXPRESSIONS OF GRATITUDE
The authors would like to express their deep gratitude in general to all those who supported them through prayer and other means and to those in Pakistan who assisted the authors. This support and assistance were very critical to the preparation of this report.
We also would like to thank in particular our friends who hosted and refreshed us in Islamabad and Peshawar; those who gave us their very precious time on short notice, namely: Mr. Mohan L. Shahani, Advocate, and former Advocate General, Province of Sindh, and former Justice, Sindh High Court; Ms. Asma Jahangir, Advocate, AGHS Legal Aid Cell (ALAC) and Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP); Mr. S. M. Masud, Advocate, and former Federal Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Pakistan; and Mr. I. A. Rehman, Director of HRCP and head of the HRCP Secretariat; and the many others who agreed to be interviewed to help provide a better understanding of the current situation in Pakistan.
We must say a very, very special and heartfelt thank you to CLAAS (the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement) and each of its staff members, without whom this report could not have been compiled. In particular we express a deep thankfulness to and for Mr. Joseph Francis, CLAAS Coordinator, whose endless days, tireless work, and courageous stand remain unmatched and an inspiration to all who have the privilege of knowing him. It was an honor to serve alongside them, and we are grateful for having had the opportunity.
THE UNVEILING OF PAKISTAN
In the province of Peshawar, figures walk along the main road. Covered from head to toe, one is not certain who is underneath or how one sees the way to go. Certainly it is someone who is not to be seen or heard. Certainly it is a woman.
Outside a courthouse in Gujranwala, two women sit along a railing, with heads covered by a long dupatta, or scarf, and mouths muzzled, watched over by a man; only the eyes can express the feelings inside.
Young girls are veiled also. It is only the boys and men who have no such required physical covering or restriction; they appear to be free to speak and walk and fully participate in the world around them.
The men meet in the bazaars and the markets of Peshawar, Islamabad and Lahore. They meet and laugh together, whether it be two o'clock in the morning or ten o'clock at night. They sit on chairs alongside the streets or visit each other's storefronts. They drive their bull carts and donkey carts and ride their bicycles and scooters.
The truth, however, is that the veil and mouth "muzzle" are not worn only by the women in Pakistan; these are worn also by the men and the boys, invisibly. They are the veil and muzzle of fear—the fear that results from a lack of freedom—the lack of freedom generated by Islamic fundamentalism.
Preparation and Direction
Recently the compilers of this report returned from Pakistan, having viewed first hand the discrimination against and persecution of Christian minorities and women and the results of same. Because the situation there is so overwhelming, the writers believed it critical that everyone who could read, everyone to whom anyone mattered in this world—everyone who could one day stand in the shoes of those persecuted unless the persecutors are stopped—be told the story of Pakistan as it now exists. It is on a downhill spiral, and its people, especially its minorities, likewise are headed downhill at immeasurable speed.
The authors need each reader not only to browse through this report but also truly to read each and every page as though one's life depended upon it, for one day it truly may.
Then we ask that each reader consider carefully what he or she will do to bring light to this veiled world of darkness, suspicion and oppression. At the very least we ask that each reader provide this report to another person and ask that person to do likewise.
Mohan L. Shahani is a practicing attorney in Karachi, Sindh Province, Pakistan. In 1998, Mr. Shahani was removed from the Sindh High Court bench not for any case he decided or legal stand he took. He was removed as a judge solely because he is a Christian. Having experienced first hand the discrimination against and persecution of the Christians in Pakistan, he urged us, "My dear friends, kindly tell the world—what kind of justice system do we have?" 1
The Islamic State of Pakistan, as it is called, had its 52nd birthday in 1999, having been created in 1947 by the partition of British India. The Muslims wanted their own separate land, away from the Hindus of India. "Pakistan" means "land of the pure."
Whether or not the founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, intended the absolute separation of Muslims from other peoples is not clear. In a speech on 11 August 1946, he stated his vision for the new country:
"You are free, you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your Mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, cast or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the State. Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State." 2
Some have argued that Ali Jinnah favored democracy; others say that Islam and democracy cannot coexist. Whatever may have been the founder's personal preferences and plans, what has resulted is no democracy.
Over the years since partition, intense pressure has been applied to have Islamic principles incorporated into the Constitution and into the laws and society, a process referred to as "Islamisation." With the implementation of a new Constitution in 1973, Pakistan is experiencing this continual Islamisation in all areas of society.
This Islamisation has resulted in blatant and intense discrimination against all non-Muslims—a "legalized" form of discrimination in that the laws themselves discriminate against and lead to persecution of non-Muslims. Because Christians—estimated at 1.5% of the 140 million population—are the largest majority of the minorities, Christians suffer the greatest persecution in Pakistan. Each successful persecution fuels the fire of the Islamic fundamentalists and makes them more fierce.
Treatment of Christians Generally
Overall, whether a Christian is a convert or born into the faith, he or she is ostracized by the Muslim majority. Over and over converts told stories of losing their jobs when their Muslim employers learned they had become Christians; then others would not employ them because they are Christians.
Those who are Christian from birth—who are born into Christian families—often can only find jobs that Muslims would not want to do, such as being sanitary workers. Others work for Muslims as their domestic servants, farm workers, or factory employees. Clearly Christians exist at all levels of society in Pakistan, but most are at the lower rungs of the ladder.
In Peshawar, in the North-West Frontier Province next to Afghanistan, a man who had been the General Secretary of his labor union lost his job after his conversion to Christianity, and he has been unable to obtain other employment. He currently is trying to find translation work; only another Christian will employ him. He has a wife and a young son. They live in a part of his father's house currently, although his father previously had forced him out of the home, leaving the three no place to live.
At the time of this report, he had not paid his father rent or been able to pay his electricity for some months and had been without electricity for that period of time. This is a man with a special technical skill who went from 5,000 rupees per month (approximately $100.00 USD) to zero, only because he believes in and follows the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Also in Peshawar, a former Mullah of a Madrassa, bent over from age, earns money as a cobbler, provided anyone will bring him work. On a particular day another Christian brought him an old canvas duffel bag, ripped to shreds. He will get 100 rupees to repair it, about $2.00 USD. He cannot find regular employment because he is a Christian.
In Lahore, in the Punjab province, a Christian convert no longer is employed as a teacher—or as anything else. He is unable to find work. He was a professional, and now he finds himself and his family destitute. At one time a daughter brought in support for the family. Then it was learned that she was a Christian, too, however. She has fled the country to save her life. He hopes she is safe, but he cannot be certain.
One may be tempted to call the foregoing "circumstantial persecution." Overlooked, ostracized, despised—this is sad, some may say, but such are the circumstances of being or becoming a Christian in Pakistan.
Much more than circumstances, however, is the actual persecution that is occurring in Pakistan on a routine basis. It is the result of discriminatory laws being implemented, interpreted and applied by the government, police and judiciary to persecute the Christians. Likewise it is the result of protective laws the police refuse to implement or active misconduct on their part, knowing that the government and the judiciary will do nothing to them.
This report provides an objective and factual account of this persecution in Pakistan as it is happening.
The cases cited and details described, therefore, serve to reveal only a portion of the truth. Many more such cases have occurred in Pakistan; many more are ongoing; and many more unfortunately will arise. These matters need attention now; delay only inflames the cause of Islam. As one is reading this, more and more of its victims await their unjust fate.
Persecution by Police Misconduct
Emmanuel Bhatti, a Christian, is 30 years old and used to live in Faisalabad, Punjab province, with his wife, four sons and two daughters. There he worked as a duty supervisor for the Water and Sanitation Agency. One day in January 1999, his seven-year-old son quarreled with another boy at school, a boy whose father was the Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of Police in Mansoorabad, Faisalabad Police Station.
Later Bhatti became involved with a family whose child had been falsely accused of a crime by this same ASI and which family had paid money to the ASI for release of this child. As a result, on the evening of 2 February 1999, the ASI raided Bhatti's house and arrested him on a false charge of assisting in some alleged abduction of the ASI's maidservant's son, a completely fabricated story. That did not prevent Bhatti's being locked up for some 14 days without any physical remand order (arrest warrant), as required by law, during which time he was ruthlessly and mercilessly tortured by the police.
He was put on the floor, and an iron roller was rolled across his legs and arms by this particular ASI. Also, while being handcuffed behind his back, he was hung from a ceiling fan by a rope for some 48 hours, after which the iron roller was used again on him. Although it was winter, cold water then was poured all over Bhatti; his woolen pullover left soaking wet on him to dry. His arms became frozen, ultimately paralyzed.
Only after the torture was he taken to a magistrate—to obtain the remand order—and the magistrate sent him on to jail, doing nothing about the torture. Not until 25 February 1999, was he even admitted to the prisoner's ward of the Divisional Headquarters Hospital, Faisalabad, for examination. Having no money, however, he never was able to get the necessary medical care. As a result of the torture he lost total use of his arms, and thus he cannot dress or feed himself or even use the bathroom alone. He has no way to earn an income for himself and his family.
With help Bhatti later sought to file a criminal complaint against the police, but the police refused to register the case. One officer remarked that "you Christians deserve this treatment for raising [a] finger against the police officials for their malpractices." Bhatti attempted to make a complaint at a higher level, but such complaint was refused there as well. A copy of the Petition to the Lahore High Court is attached to this report as Exhibit A.
Bhatti is a victim of persecution in Pakistan. Even with medical and other documentary evidence of torture on the record, even in the face of affidavits being filed by the alleged abductee's relatives testifying to Bhatti's innocence, in his 5 March, 1999, Order admitting Bhatti to bail—but only with surety—the presiding Muslim Judge determined there should be "further probe into the guilt against him [Bhatti]."
This is what it is like to be a Christian in Pakistan.
Pastor Arther Salim
On 23 June 1997, Pastor Arther Salim was arrested by the police and accused of kidnapping a Muslim girl named Raheela.
Pastor Salim used to hold prayer meetings at his house in a village of Lahore, Punjab province, each Sunday; and each Sunday a Christian girl named Saleema would come. Later she began bringing a Muslim friend, Raheela, and the friendship between the Salim family and the two girls developed so that the girls began visiting more frequently.
Pastor Salim, knowing the climate in Pakistan, asked that Raheela not come to the house anymore, for fear her family would accuse him of trying to convert her. However, on 5 June 1997, Raheela appeared on Pastor Salim's doorstep after a fight with her parents. He and his wife advised she could not stay with them—again he was fearful—and Raheela left. Thereafter, however, her family showed up and searched the Salim house, in fact, more than once. On or about 21 June, he decided to go to their house to reassure them, but upon arrival Pastor Salim was held and physically tortured by family members for two days. It was on the third day, 23 June, that Raheela's family turned him over to police, registering a case against him and his son Robin.
On that same day, around noon, the police came to search for and pick up Robin. Because he was not there, the police took all the female Salim family members to the police station, where they were kept and questioned the entire night. They were released the next day when the brother, Robin, appeared. Both Pastor Salim and Robin were tortured by the police during that next day, Pastor Salim being so brutally tortured that he could not stand on his feet. Being too afraid of the police, however, he refused to testify to any torture at a hearing on 30 June and eventually made some sort of compromise with Raheela's family. (Islamic provisions of the law allow this in certain cases.) Finally, on 4 July 1997, Pastor Salim was released from jail, having spent some eleven days behind bars.
On 8 July 1997, the newspaper reported that Raheela had been shot dead by her brother. He came forward and admitted it, and subsequently Saleema, the Christian girl who had brought Raheela to the prayer meetings, was arrested and jailed. She was raped by several policemen and was severely tortured, having been stripped and beaten with a leather belt and hosepipes and having had red chili powder shoved into her vagina. Finally in August 1997, after some 30 days in jail, she was released on bail; and she has yet to stand trial.
This is what it means to be a Christian in Pakistan.
Persecution under the Constitution
One may ask how such misconduct can occur under the law. Is there no equality of citizenry, no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech, one may ask. It is a matter of how the Constitution is written and applied—or not applied.
It is a Constitution whose Preamble provides for the principles of "democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice" to be observed, but it is further stated that these principles are those as are "enunciated by Islam." 3 (Emphasis added)
With the enactment of the 1973 Constitution, Islam officially was made the "State religion of Pakistan," by Article 2. 4 Since that time, further Constitutional amendments and legislation have made it clear that Islamic laws shall govern all the people of Pakistan and that these laws shall give distinct advantage to Muslims and distinct disadvantages to non-Muslims.
In 1985, Article 2A of the Constitution, called the "Objectives Resolution," was added. This Resolution made it clear that Christians and other minorities would not be free to practice their religions.
The original Constitution had stated that provisions would be made "for the minorities freely to profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures." 5 (Emphasis added) The Objectives Resolution restated this provision but without the word "freely." 6 What had been occurring already in Pakistan now became written law. There was to be no freedom of religion for any non-Muslim.
Persecution by Islamic Religious Ordinances
The most egregious laws in Pakistan's Penal Code are being used to persecute Christians and other non-Muslims at every turn. These are the blasphemy laws, which have made certain speech or conduct criminal and punishable by prison or death. Even further these provisions are being used to fuel the fire of fundamentalist Muslims, and with each victory, whether in or out of the courtroom, these fundamentalists become more fierce.
On 6 January 1992, Niamat Ahmar, a Christian Punjabi teacher and poet, was stabbed in the stomach and murdered by a Muslim fanatic right on the grounds of the District Education Office in Faisalabad. The reason: he was accused by another teacher with whom he had quarreled of blaspheming Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. This accusation, though false, spread throughout the area; and the man who killed Ahmar proudly confessed to it. It was reported that when the police came, they congratulated the killer, saying that he would be in paradise for this act.
Ahmar left behind his widow, five children, his aging parents, and a young brother, all of whom were dependent upon him. Now his brother is trying to support them all; the children have been forced to stop their studies and find some sort of employment.
This is what it is like to be a Christian in Pakistan—with the threat of a blasphemy allegation always hanging over one's head. The penalty is death, whether sentenced by a court or not.
The Blasphemy Law
There are four specific blasphemy provisions in the Pakistan Penal Code, known as Articles 295, 295A, 295B, and 295C. The latter one is most critical today with respect to non-Muslims, as it is used with great frequency to jail innocents—for years—who have had some secular dispute with a Muslim neighbor or other acquaintance, as illustrated above; and it is the one that carries the death penalty. These four blasphemy provisions are set forth below. (A complete copy is attached hereto as Exhibit B.) These are known in the Penal Code as "Offenses Relating to Religion": 7
295. Injuring or defiling a place of worship, with intent to insult the religion of any class.
Punishment: Two years in prison or fine or both.
295A. Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
Punishment: Ten years in prison or fine or both.
295B. Defiling, etc. of copy of Holy Quran.
Punishment: Life in prison
295C. Use of derogatory remark, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet.
Punishment: Death penalty
This last section was not added to the criminal code of Pakistan until 1986, again in continuation of the Islamisation of the whole country. Most important to note is that when initially adopted, Section 295C provided the punishment option of life in prison rather than death. However, in 1991, the Federal Shariat Court ruled that the option of life in prison was repugnant to Islam and struck it from the Code Section.
Because of the fanaticism surrounding these blasphemy cases, families generally do not visit their accused, as they are taunted and harassed and fear for their own lives when they go to the jails. Even if the accused would be released on bail, his or her own life is at risk from the time he or she leaves the jail.
Having converted from Islam to Christianity, Tahir Iqbal was arrested in December 1990, in Lahore, accused of desecrating the Quran by underlining various sections and writing in the margins. Oddly enough, Iqbal was disabled and was confined to a wheelchair. Although lawyers fought for his release, he never was admitted to bail and died in the jail, allegedly from poisoning. He had been charged with violations of Sections 295B and 295C.
In summary he never was admitted to bail because a Sessions Court judge stated his belief that leaving Islam—apostasy, as it is called—was itself an offense "involving serious implications." His lawyer filed an appeal for bail with the Lahore High Court, but the appeal was turned down for the same reason cited by the Sessions Court. Even when his lawyer made a plea for release on medical grounds—even with the testimony of a prison medical officer—bail was not granted.
Iqbal was kept under deplorable conditions, without electricity, water, toilet availability, proper food and medicine. At one point his left side went numb, but the Court did not find that sufficient reason to release him. He died on 20 July 1992, never having been tried on the original alleged offenses.
A more complete review of the circumstances surrounding Iqbal's arrest, confinement and death and of the investigation into same is attached hereto as Exhibit C.
Currently Ayub Masih awaits the carrying out of his death sentence in the Sahiwal Central Jail, Punjab province. However, that death sentence may be carried out without actual execution. Ayub Masih is dying, and no outside medical doctor is allowed to see him in the jail. According to his mother, who does visit him, he is vomiting blood; he has no toilet, so uses the floor and covers it with sand, for which he must pay; he has inadequate food and water; and, in fact, he pays 10 rupees for each bowl of water. He has no light in his cell. Even in daylight, it is dark.
He is now just 27 years old. He has six brothers, and his parents are struggling to survive. His father is too old to work; a younger brother helps his mother try to earn income for the family. What they do earn goes to Ayub Masih, with little—sometimes nothing—left over for themselves.
In 1996 Ayub Masih was charged with blasphemy under Article 295C. According to the facts of the case, Ayub had a Muslim acquaintance in the village where he lived. This Muslim came over to his house and sat down on a cot outside. Ayub joked with him that he needed to move the cot, as his back was toward Mecca and he must turn around to face it. This man became angry and went to a village elder to discuss what should be done to Ayub, accusing him of blasphemy. The end result was that a mob gathered and began to beat Ayub Masih. He was taken to the police station and a case was registered against him. At that point he was jailed. That was in October 1996.
Subsequently other Muslims came to the some 18 Christian families in this village of Arifwala, south of Lahore, where the alleged blasphemy had occurred, and threatened to take their cattle and burn down their houses. Later a procession gathered, demanding that Ayub Masih be hanged. The Christian families fled. Ayub was transferred to another jail because the situation became so tense. These families, comprising some 135 Christians, lost their homes.
Dr. John Joseph, the Catholic Bishop of Faisalabad at the time, came to Ayub's defense, and he also pushed hard for repeal of this law. The tension became so great over this case that at a court hearing in November 1997, prior to any trial, Ayub Masih was shot at but was missed.
From the time he was arrested until he was sentenced in April 1998, Ayub Masih had been kept continuously in jail, some 18 months. Most of the time he spent in a torture cell, where he said he was severely tortured by the jail warden. Two attempts were made on his life.
It was 27 April when Ayub Masih was found guilty of blasphemy and was sentenced to die. On 6 May 1998, Bishop Joseph traveled to the courthouse where the sentencing had occurred and shot himself in the head, killing himself in protest over the sentencing and the blasphemy law itself. Then on the day that the Bishop was buried, an armed mob of Muslims attacked Christian homes and businesses in Faisalabad (where he was being buried), burning and looting over a dozen houses and shops, ripping up Bibles and tearing up pictures of Jesus. News articles regarding this turmoil are attached as Exhibit D. (See also Exhibit E.)
Ranjha Masih is fifty years old and has been kept in the Faisalabad Central Jail continuously since 8 May 1998, the day Bishop Joseph was buried. A former hospital worker, Ranjha Masih sits there, still awaiting trial on a blasphemy charge under Section 295C. He was falsely accused of knocking down a Muslim shopkeeper's signboard that displayed a Quranic verse.
Ranjha was in a mourning procession of Christians when some of the young people, so distressed over the Bishop's suicide and the blasphemy laws, began throwing stones at some vehicles and shops. As a result, a signboard fell down. A mob of Muslims also had gathered, and it was one of the mob who grabbed Masih and accused him of knocking down the signboard. He was severely beaten by this mob and taken off to jail, where he was charged with the violation of making derogatory remarks about Muhammad, the prophet of Islam—Section 295C. Subsequently Muslim fundamentalists, angered by this signboard incident, staged a rally, demanding immediate arrest of all involved and, further, condemning a United States' State Department official's reported remarks critical of the death penalty given to Ayub Masih.
Ranjha still sits in jail, his six children trying to survive on the income of his wife, who works as a domestic servant. None of the children can go to school, and the family has no other source of income.
Ajaz Ul-Haq, as a member of Parliament and a son of the late military ruler General Zia Ul-Haq who had Section 295C enacted in 1986, has said in a press statement that even if 100,000 Christians lose their lives, the blasphemy law will not be repealed.
Shafiq Masih now sits in the same jail as does Ranjha Masih—Faisalabad Central Jail—and has been there since 30 May 1998, when he was taken by four policemen from his house to a police station and charged with a violation of Section 295C. He continues to wait for his trial on the false charge. His family has had to move to another village and live with relatives because of harassment and fear for their own lives.
At 33 years old, Shafiq Masih lived with his wife and five children and had a welding shop in Faisalabad. A Muslim named Haji Ahmed Din used to visit his shop, always wanting to get into religious discussions and pushing Shafiq to convert to Islam. Shafiq generally just ignored him.
On 28 May, in the same month as Bishop Joseph's suicide, Haji Ahmed again visited the shop and tried to persuade Shafiq to become a Muslim. Some discussion ensued, during which Haji Ahmed became angry and made many provocative remarks against Christianity and Christians. Then he left. It was two days later when the policemen came.
Shafiq believes that the entire episode grew out of a dispute he had had with another Muslim, who had a cycle shop next to his. They had shared an electric meter, and the Muslim refused to pay his part. Just two days before his arrest, Shafiq and the Muslim had quarreled; and it was this cycle shop owner and Haji Ahmed who together conspired in placing the blasphemy charge against him.
Generally all blasphemy cases registered against Christians are exactly like the foregoing: There is no evidence of blasphemy but rather of an underlying dispute between a Christian and a Muslim. This dispute becomes the springboard for a charge that carries the death penalty, and often even a Muslim not directly involved makes the complaint to police. According to a former Pakistani Christian judge, actual evidence of the alleged blasphemous remarks is not required for one to obtain a charge against another under Section 295C and send that person to jail. Furthermore, that person is not even considered to be unreasonably held unless two years have expired without his being tried.
Christian men are locked up behind bars for years awaiting trial—for an offense they never committed; others are sentenced and sitting in jail awaiting their death—for an offense they never committed. Meanwhile their wives and children are starving and deprived of family life.
This is the price of following Christ in Pakistan.
The judges are too biased or too fearful to acquit a Christian defendant. One tried it.
Manzoor Masih (Deceased), Rehmat Manzoor, Salamat Masih, and Judge Arif Iqbal Bhatti (Deceased)
Manzoor Masih, Rehmat Manzoor and Salamat Masih, a 13-year-old boy, were Christians charged with blasphemy under Section 295C for allegedly writing slogans on a Mosque wall. In the trial court, all three were convicted and sentenced to death by the trial court. An appeal was allowed when it was determined that they were illiterate.
During the appeal process, Manzoor Masih was shot to death as he left an attorney's office; the other two were shot at as well and were seriously injured but survived.
In March, 1995, on appeal to the Lahore High Court, Rehmat and Salamat Masih were acquitted by Judge (Retired) Arif Iqbal Bhatti. The fanatics went into high gear, calling for the hanging of the two survivors, who later had to be smuggled out of the country.
In October, 1997, as he left the Lahore High Court, Judge Bhatti was shot to death.
Manzoor Masih left a widow, ten children and an elderly father. Currently the oldest son, who is nineteen, tries to support the family. So, too, does the elderly father/grandfather, but he is not able to do very much. They all live in a large room; even the children take their schooling there, as they have no money to go out to school.
Rehmat Manzoor, in fleeing the country, was forced to leave behind a wife and six children, who face terrible hardship. Rehmat's elder brother initially had helped support the family, but he also has died. Now only Rehmat's very elderly parents are all upon whom the family has to depend.
In 1998 police claimed finally to have caught the man who murdered Judge Bhatti. According to reports, the man admitted to killing the Judge after making great preparations to do so; and the killer attributed the murder to the Judge's acquittal of the two Christian men.
Saleem and Rasheed Masih
On 4 December 1999, these two brothers appeared in Court in Gujranwala, an area in the Punjab province known for its fanaticism. Both stand charged with blasphemy under Article 295C, charges that arose from a dispute involving just Saleem.
Saleem went to buy ice cream from a vendor who was a Muslim. The vendor told Saleem that he would not give him any utensils with which to eat the ice cream because Saleem was a Christian and thus was not going to use a Muslim's utensils. Eventually a scuffle occurred, and out of that day came a charge of blasphemy against both brothers, although Rasheed never was present. Actually prior to that day, there had been a land dispute involving some of the Muslim villagers and the brothers; but that had been over months earlier.
Saleem Masih is 35 years old, is married and has five children. Rasheed Masih is 45 years old, is married and has eight children. Both have been in jail, awaiting trial, since 3 June 1999. Neither can get bail. Because these are blasphemy cases, the judge refuses to release the brothers. Neither has seen his family since his arrest because the family members are too afraid of the Muslim fanatics to come to the jail to visit. The families are without any support, save for one other brother who is trying to provide for all of them.
Once again, on 4 December 1999, the judge refused to grant bail. The judge at first refused to allow the authors even to talk with the brothers, who were chained together and to all the other prisoners appearing before the court that day. Later, upon realizing that the authors were international observers, he relented, allowing a brief time inside the courtroom. Even then, Saleem and Rasheed remained chained to all the other prisoners.
When asked about their families, both brothers cried because they had not seen their families for so many months and because they would not be released by Christmas. When asked if there were a message they wished to be taken back to their families and others, Rasheed said, "Please tell them we are here for the name of Jesus. We are suffering for His name, and we are prepared to suffer for His name. Please don't forget about us."
On 1 December 1999, a Christian lawyer argued a blasphemy case before the Lahore High Court; it was the first time for such event. He had to handle the matter, however, because no Muslim lawyer would do it—take an appeal to the High Court for bail to be set in a Section 295C blasphemy case. Bail had been denied in the lower courts, so the High Court now was being called upon to grant bail. On this day, however, bail was not to be set either, as the hearing was continued: Once again, the judge was being changed.
Hussain Masih, a 65-year-old Christian man, is charged with blasphemy under Sections 295A and 295C. He had been in jail continuously since 29 November 1998, when he had presented himself to police after learning they were looking for him. As it turned out, cases had been registered against not only Hussain but also his son Issac and another Christian under the blasphemy law.
Then on 1 December 1998, an angry mob gathered outside Hussain Masih's sister's house, to which the family had moved, out of fear, after his arrest. The mob shouted for the family to come out and threatened to burn down the house. According to the family, many imams (Islamic religious men) were present in this mob. The family remained inside, they said, praying and praying that no harm would come to them. Finally the mob was dispersed; exactly how, they cannot say. They just believe; their prayers were answered.
Other family members may not have been so fortunate, however. Issac, the son who also was charged, never was arrested. A Christian evangelist himself, Issac, his wife and their four daughters, along with another female family member, all have disappeared. The rest of the family fear they are dead.
Hussain's inability to be heard in court on 1 December 1999, was not surprising. His bail had been refused on previous occasions, and other hearing dates had been continued due to previous changes in judges or other "problems."
At his first hearing on 26 January 1999, Muslim fundamentalists appeared and demanded the death penalty. On the date of every hearing, in fact, fundamentalists have appeared before the Court, appealed for no bail to be set, demanded the death penalty, and threatened his attorney not to continue pleading Hussain's case or the attorney would be killed.
In fact the case had begun in the Sessions Court of Wazirabad, but after several hearings at which the mobs gathered and became so abusive and threatening to Hussain and his attorney, the case was transferred to the Sessions Court of Gujranwala. The last refusal of bail was 6 April 1999, with the Order's not even being entered until 12 May 1999. At yet another court hearing on 3 July 1999, a huge mob of fundamentalists gathered on the court grounds, again demanding the death penalty and, again, demanding that Hussain's attorney stop proceeding with the case or he would be killed.
In an unusual and surprising ruling, on 6 December 1999, the High Court granted Hussain Masih's request for bail. To date Hussain still is alive, awaiting his trial. So far, so is the attorney. The whereabouts of Issac and his family, however, still are not known.
Hussain Masih's wife has suffered near blindness from an apparent infection of her eyes that has occurred from endless crying about and physical stress arising from her husband's false arrest and the disappearance of her son and his family. She does not get out of bed.
Although Hussain's sister and brother-in-law are members of a Presbyterian Church, other members have avoided them and not helped the family through this time. The members are too fearful for themselves, the sister says.
Catherine Shaheen is in hiding because not every Christian persecuted through the use of blasphemy laws in Pakistan is male.
Catherine Shaheen, a Christian, was a teacher from Muzaffargarh, in the Punjab province. In 1995 she was accused of blasphemy under Section 295C by some local Muslims. Although she was not formally charged, she was forced to leave her home town and take refuge in Lahore. Because her life continually was under threat, she moved from one place to another; and on 29 July 1997, the police raided the house where she lived.
Because no male was present, the police took Catherine, her mother and a younger sister to a police lockup, where they were kept for an entire day. Then they were sent to jail. Not until 4 August 1997, were they bailed out. Still no formal charge has been filed against her, but Catherine has been relocated; and she remains in hiding.
Younis Tasaddaq also is in hiding, another Christian fearing for his life. Tasaddaq was accused in October 1998 of writing notes containing blasphemous remarks and sending them to imams (Islamic religious men) of different mosques in the village of Gorja, also in the Punjab province. His name and address were on the notes, and he, along with several family members, was held by the police. A handwriting expert, however, found that the handwriting on the notes did not match that of Tasaddaq. They all were released, but now he fears he will be arrested anyway or killed.
This is the reality of being a Christian in Pakistan.
Many more blasphemy cases are pending. Many more falsely accused Christians are locked up behind bars in Pakistan because they perhaps had some secular dispute with a Muslim. Other laws in Pakistan are used to discriminate against and persecute Christians and other non-Muslims, but Section 295C of the blasphemy law is the only one used whereby:
(1) a person can be arrested without a warrant;
(2) bail generally is not granted. "Not bailable" states the Penal Code; and
(3) the death sentence is the only penalty for conviction. 8
As former Justice Mohan L. Shahani has said, a man charged under Section 295C "is doomed." 9
Each year the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) prepares a report on the state of human rights in the country. In its State of Human Rights in 1998 report, the Commission itself had to admit the abuses occurring under the blasphemy law. Though understated, the Commission's findings follow:
"The anti-blasphemy law has tended to be abused. Because of the public sentiment the allegation arouses, the law has also been liable to a miscarriage of justice. Clearly, the incidence of blasphemy was no greater than before the law came in than it is after it. There are certainly more allegations of it now. The experience points to the need for serious rethinking of the law." 10
The Report also made it clear that discrimination against—and resultant persecution of—non-Muslims was not accidental when it stated that the blasphemy laws were the "third set" of provisions in the law "that made religious discrimination a state policy." 11
Again, quoting former Justice Shahani, who was referencing a statement by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, "Injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere." 12
Persecution by Hudood
Hudood, the plural of hadd, are punishments, the limits of which are set forth in the Quran or Sunnah. In 1979, as part of the continuing Islamisation of Pakistan, an entire new set of laws became effective concerning certain criminal offenses. Termed the "Enforcement of Hudood Ordinance," they provide Islamic punishments for:
(1) property crimes, such as theft or embezzlement; 13
(2) zina, which is fornication or adultery; 14 and
(3) qazf, which is falsely accusing another of zina.15
Hadd punishments range from whipping a certain number of "stripes" to amputations of a hand or foot or multiple simultaneous amputations to imprisonment for a term or for life to death by execution or stoning. The particular hadd punishment depends upon the degree of the offense.
[Note that another similar law was added to the Pakistan Penal Code in 1979. The "Prohibition (Enforcement of Hadd) Order," which pertains to intoxicating beverages and drugs, provides for hadd punishments in the event of conviction for manufacture, transportation, use, possession or the like.]
The important matter to note here is that a non-Muslim can be charged with any of these offenses, but the law to be applied is that set forth in the Quran and Sunnah and all previous case decisions based thereon, matters of which such accused would not know or understand. The Quran is Islam's sacred book; it contains the revelations of Allah made to Muhammad. The Sunnah is a collection of Muhammad's sayings and deeds. Together they are the foundation of Islamic law—the injunctions of Islam.
Furthermore in 1984, the laws regarding evidence in criminal cases were amended by the Qanun-E-Shahadat Order, which was the President's Order No. 10 of 1984. 16 This Order was implemented to bring the evidence laws in criminal cases into conformity with the Shari'ah—again, that law as set forth in the Quran and Sunnah. Key provisions concern the competency of witnesses to provide evidence and the number of witnesses required to prove a matter.
As a result of the application of Islamic tenets, the testimony of a non-Muslim witness is worth only one-half that of a Muslim witness. Therefore, in criminal cases requiring the testimony of two (or four) Muslim witnesses, double that number of non-Muslim witnesses would need to testify, if indeed a non-Muslim is considered competent at all. Also the testimony of a female is worth only one-half that of a male.
Under the Hudood Ordinance, discussed above, non-Muslim witnesses are incompetent to testify unless the accused is a non-Muslim. It matters not whether the victim is non-Muslim.
Likewise under Hudood, for the specific offense of zina (adultery or fornication), four Muslim adult male witnesses must see the act of penetration, unless the accused is a non-Muslim. Then there may be permitted non-Muslim witnesses, twice the number. Again if the victim, e.g., in a case of rape, is a non-Muslim, but the accused is a Muslim, no non-Muslim can testify against the accused. This is being used to discriminate against non-Muslims and especially against women in general.
If a case of rape cannot be proven against the male perpetrator(s), then the female victim is charged with zina, or with qazf, and imprisoned for her participation in the sexual intercourse (zina) or for making a statement as to its occurrence, if false (qazf). Many women are in jail in Pakistan today charged with zina, wherein the Muslim male could not be found guilty because there were no Muslim witnesses to the act or who would testify to the act.
Nagina Masih and Ghulam Masih
A particularly severe case involves a female Christian child named Nagina (sometimes spelled "Nageena") Masih. She lived with her parents, three sisters and two brothers in a village called Sharikpur. On 10 March 1997, as Nagina was coming home from a friend's house, she was chased down and gang-raped by four adult Muslim men, all sons of a neighbor. Her father, Ghulam Masih, found her, still surrounded by the men, and grabbed up the bleeding and injured child.
With the help of a Christian organization, Ghulam and his wife took Nagina to a hospital. Subsequently her father, Ghulam Masih, obtained a warrant, termed an "FIR" (First Information Report), accusing the four men of rape. However, there were no other eyewitnesses to the crime, save for the child and her father, both of whom are Christian.
According to the medical report, Nagina's hymen was ripped—first degree tear—and she had "wound and tear marks" on both thighs. Also "semen and blood stains" were "taken from her clothes." 17 She will never be able to have children because of the severity of her internal injuries. 18 (See Exhibit E.)
The four men are out on bail, and at a court hearing in December 1999, Nagina had to face them once again. As if rape were not traumatic enough, Nagina, who now is just nine years old, was required to appear before an adult court, open to the public, and before her accused rapists. Only on 1 December 1999, more than two years after the crime, did a judge agree to transfer this matter to a "speedy trial" court, called an "Anti-Terrorism Court," that will move the case along faster.
Not much hope exists for a conviction, however, due to the witness requirements. Little Nagina does not understand why she consistently must come face to face with the four big men who raped her, but her father is in jail, falsely accused of murder. Nagina remains fearful.
To further persecute Ghulam, the four men charged with the rape obtained an FIR falsely accusing him and several others of murdering a woman in October 1998, which he clearly did not do and with which he was not connected. He was charged along with four others and was jailed on October 7. As of October 20, Ghulam Masih still had not had his arrest entered on the police records. Not until a legal aid lawyer confronted the police with this fact was he officially charged. Over the months between the rape and his being charged with murder, he had been offered money and other things to drop the charges of rape, which he refused to do.
As of the date of this report, Ghulam Masih remains in jail, awaiting trial. His family has no income, and there are three other daughters and two sons.
As Christians, the family continues to be harassed by Muslims in their area, and the daughters will not go to school because of this harassment and fear of harm. In fact since the authors returned from Pakistan, Nagina's family again was threatened for pursuing the rape charges.
Another important case is that of Asyia Manzoor, the first Christian girl charged with the crime of qazf, under the Hudood Ordinance. In October 1996, when she was 13, Asyia was raped by a Muslim male; and her father obtained an FIR against the male. According to reports 12 Muslim witnesses saw the event, but the police did not take any statements from them. After ten months, the police closed the case against the accused based on a false medical report that said rape had not occurred. Subsequently a case was filed against Asyia, her father and an older brother under qazf, thus accusing them of making false accusations. The trial has taken place but no decision had been rendered as of December 1999. Her punishment, if convicted, will be 80 floggings in public.
Farhat Masih, a Christian girl now 20 years old, currently remains in a protected place because she does not want to be returned to her Muslim husband, who has threatened to physically abuse or kill her if she ever leaves Islam.
This is a husband who has sexually assaulted her, again and again. Once she escaped from his enforced custody, the husband filed a petition for restoration of his conjugal rights.
In April 1999, Farhat registered cases against her husband and his two brothers under the Hudood Ordinance. The charges against the three are zina—illicit sexual intercourse—and kidnapping—abducting her for the purpose of seducing illicit sexual intercourse in order to compel her to marry. All three men are free on bail.
On 24 April 1994, when she was just 14 years old and returning to her home in Khanewal District from seeing her sister, she was abducted by a Muslim man and his brother. She just had stepped of the train and was looking for a tonga (horse-drawn form of taxi) to take her to her parents. Just as one pulled away, the male driver of a second asked where she was going and told her the two women already in his tonga were going to the same village.
Shortly after she got in, however, the driver dropped off the two women and picked up a man. Little did Farhat know that this second man was the driver's brother.
They took her to a dera (a mud hut) where the driver raped her repeatedly. She begged him not to rape her and told him she was a Christian. He slapped her and verbally abused her, saying she was "the daughter of a shameless man," a Christian. He threatened that he would bring other men if she refused to keep quiet.
The next day he took her to a house and locked her in a separate room. At night he would take her to different mud huts and sexually abuse her; then he would bring her back in the morning and lock her up again while he went off to work. After several days he bribed an imam, a Muslim in charge of a mosque, to bring a marriage contract to the house and to print an announcement in the paper that Farhat had taken on a Muslim name. Thus against her will, it was determined that she was to be married to this man and to have "converted" to Islam.
He kept her in his custody for some five years. During the course of these five years, he kept her locked in a room anytime he was not present, only letting her out when he was home. She was deprived of food and water and a bathroom during these times of lockup. When he was home, he would assault her sexually and from this she became pregnant three times, losing two babies through miscarriages and losing the third after it was three months old. Because she did not have adequate medical care during all of this, she has suffered permanent physical damage.
His brothers often tortured her; in fact he and his brothers beat her up in front of people in their village. Only after Farhat was befriended by a sister-in-law was she able to get away, run to her parents, and seek legal help to keep from going back.
Under Hudood, however, Farhat has no witnesses except herself to the abduction, rape, forced conversion to Islam, and forced marriage. Thus she remains in hiding.
Shakeela Feroz, a Christian girl, was thirteen years old when she was gang-raped by the three sons of the Muslim woman for whom she was working in 1999. Her father went to the police station to register an FIR against the three; even though he made his complaint, however, it was another seven months before the police would register an FIR against the three boys. The charge was zina—illicit sexual intercourse—under the Hudood Ordinance.
Subsequently, however, after the police "investigated" the matter, they determined to charge Shakeela with zina, claiming that she consented to the sexual intercourse. This was done to pressure Shakeela and her father to make a compromise with the boys, which is one method of resolving certain charges under the Hudood Ordinance. Shakeela and her father refused to do this, and she, though a young teenager, was jailed for over two months until bail was allowed.
Because of this incident, she and her family were forced to relocate to another village. She has six brothers and two sisters, and both parents are aged and sick.
Because Christians are considered anathema to Muslims, Christian women often become the target of rape by Muslim men. Under the Hudood Ordinance, however, rape becomes equivalent to fornication—or to adultery, if the woman already is married—because of the issues of competency and number of witnesses. Also this Ordinance places the female's age for being held criminally responsible at puberty. Thus Hudood is being used to discriminate against and persecute women in general and often Christian women in particular.
Alongside the misuse of the Hudood Ordinance often comes another important issue for Christians—forced conversion to Islam, as occurred in Farhat's case. To avoid being prosecuted under Hudood, the female may be forced to marry the Muslim man who assaulted her and then made by him to recite the Islamic creed, after which she is declared to be converted to Islam. A Christian who marries a Muslim is never allowed to remain a Christian.
Nazia is a young girl from a very poor family, so poor that the children were unable to attend school. So Nazia took a job in a factory, a place from which her Muslim foreman abducted her.
For some six months she was forced to live in his house with his family, often being locked up inside the house. He took her to a mosque and threatened to kill her and all her family if she did not convert to Islam. Because she was afraid for her family, she did repeat the Islamic creed, which is all that is needed to be called a Muslim. She also signed a document, presumably a marriage contract, for after this, it was determined that she was married to this foreman. With this, she allegedly converted to Islam and she was married to the foreman, all against her will.
By building up trust with one of his brothers, Nazia finally was able to get away. Having very carefully saved one rupee at a time, she was able to get 50 rupees (approximately $1.00 USD), enough for a "taxi" (like a rickshaw), and in November 1999, she got back to her parents. The foreman's brothers began threatening her, and she became quite frightened. A village elder helped her find legal help.
At a court hearing on 30 November 1999, with a mere wave of his hand indicating she was to leave the courtroom, the judge determined that Nazia was not forced to go with the man—that she had gone with consent—and so she had to be returned to him since he has petitioned for restoration of his conjugal rights. No evidence was presented at the hearing, save for the facts stated in her petition for divorce. Thus, she remains in hiding. All she wants is to be a Christian and live a normal life, the latter of which appears most unlikely.
Nadia Masih, Naima Masih and Nabila Masih
A particularly egregious case of forced conversion concerns the three young daughters of Khushi and Seema Masih: Nadia, Naima and Nabila. Claiming that the three girls had "embraced Islam," and thus no longer could live with Christian parents, policemen came to the Masih home and took away the daughters. This was 25 January 1998.
The Masih family rented a portion of a house from a Muslim named Liaqat Butt. There were eleven children in the family; six were married, but five were still at home. None attended school. Khushi worked as a bus driver. Seema was employed as a domestic servant, and the three girls often went with her to help. The girls were befriended by the landlord's wife, and the three began to insist that they stay at home rather than go with Seema. It was three months later when the policemen, a social worker, the landlady and several others showed up at the door and took away Khushi and Seema's three daughters.
Khushi Masih went directly to the police station, demanding the daughters be handed over to him. He was denied custody, however; in fact the officer in charge at the station filed an application with the Assistant Commissioner stating that the three girls had "embraced Islam" and should be given over to the custody of Muslims who wanted to adopt them. The girls were sent to a group home, pending the outcome of the application.
The parents tried to see them there but were denied. However, the imam of the local mosque, the Muslim landlady and other Muslims from a religious political party were allowed to meet with the girls. When they finally were brought before a magistrate, he ordered them to stay in the group home, stating, "The girls are under pressure, and they cannot be given into the custody of their parents."
Another hearing was scheduled for 12 March 1998, but the magistrate adjourned the hearing. Two Muslims had organized a huge number of other Muslims to appear at the hearing. They shouted slogans against the parents and against the Christian community in general, threatening the girls of certain consequences if they had any desire to go back to their home or religion.
The final hearing took place on 19 March 1998. Even though evidence was given that the girls were being coerced and wanted to go home, the magistrate ruled that, although the Muslim landlord and his wife could not be given custody, the girls could not be returned to a Christian home and would be left at the group home in the custody of the State. Also he ordered that a teacher should be appointed to provide the girls with Islamic teachings.
At one point during the court process, members of a fanatical Muslim group attacked Khushi Masih's house. They beat him up and drove out his wife and other young children, still barefoot and without warm clothes or food. They were locked out of the house and were threatened that they should leave the town and forget the three daughters.
Currently the oldest daughter, Nadia, now 15, has been married to a Muslim attorney, and they have been given custody of the other two girls, who have been moved to a location unknown to the parents. The parents have no home but move from relative to relative.
This is the cost of being a Christian in Pakistan.
Persecution by Destruction of Property
Churches and other property of Christians are targets for Muslim fanatics. What little the Christians do have is taken from them.
St. Peter's Church
On 22 October 1999, St. Peter's Catholic Church, located in Lahore Township, was set on fire. It was the second incident of communal attack on a Christian church in one month.
Fifteen hundred Christian families live in Lahore Township, where seven churches of different denominations exist. Adjacent to St. Peter's is a high school for males and females, and George Yaqoob, his wife and family live on the church premises. On the day of the fire, his wife saw smoke coming from a room used in the church to store all the items used for worship. When she ran out to tell the nuns at the school, some of the students heard her, saw a man running toward the school with a container of gas, and caught him.
By then, however, all the church's possessions had been lost: twenty Bibles, sixty hymn books, other religious books, a large wooden cross, items used for the altar, musical equipment and wooden furniture.
Three days before the fire, George Yaqoob had gone to close up the church and found the picture of a cross that hung on the altar smashed on the floor.
The man who was caught, a Muslim, was questioned and admitted to burning the church and wanting to burn the Christian school. His reason: Because America had urged Pakistan to call back its troops from Kargil while thousands of Muslims were being killed in Kashmir, and because America is a Christian nation, he had burned the church. He wanted to show Americans that Muslims are not afraid. He was charged with arson and also with blasphemy under 295 and 295A; however, the maximum punishment he can receive for the greater of the two blasphemy charges is ten years, not life. He could receive as little as a fine. At this moment, however, the culprit is walking free, still on bail.
The Village of Qila Didar Singh
Qila Didar Singh, a village in the Punjab province, contains a Christian development. Although Muslims have lived in peace for some years also in the village, during the last few years, a Muslim resident, Khalid Mehmood, together with several other Muslims, have tried to seize the land where the Christians live. Having been unsuccessful previously, on 5 June 1994, they destroyed a boundary wall on the church premises. Although charges of breaking into private property were filed against the men, none were ever held on the charges.
The Muslims, however, seeking revenge for the charges having been brought, attacked the Christian compound with firearms on 17 June, injuring seven of the Christians. They also desecrated Bibles, a cross and the Church. The mob stayed in the compound some five hours, but policemen never came. Only three hours after this, did any appear; and then the police refused to allow the Christian residents to file charges. Only when a team from a legal aid office went to the village were cases registered against the mob members, some sixty people.
The matter took a new twist in 1998-99. The Muslims involved registered cases against the Christian complainants, and the situation between the Muslims and Christians has become very critical. The Muslims want the church leader killed and have offered a large amount of money for the murder. The attorney assisting the Christians also has been threatened with his life.
The Christian Colony in Sahiwal
In 1996, more than eighty Christian families settled on barren land near a Christian graveyard in Sahiwal. These people built concrete houses on the land and applied to the proper authority—the Deputy Commissioner—to obtain proprietary rights to the land. Most of the women in the Christian colony worked as domestic servants in the posh areas of Sahiwal City.
Even while the applications were pending, on 28 November 1997, the local government bulldozed their houses. Although the working people were not home at the time, their children were. The houses were completely razed, furniture and other objects destroyed. Although the local government's Disposal Committee had not objected on paper to the settlement, having issued "Non-Objection Certificates" to the families on 3 May 1997, it did not want the Christians to occupy the land. Thus occurred the bulldozing.
The Settlement of Shantinagar
On 5 February 1997, a huge mob of Muslims attacked Christian settlements in Khanewal City and in nearby Shantinagar, completely destroying the houses and all the furnishings in them, along with any bicycles or other vehicles parked outside, by using petrol bombs to burn out everything.
To this very day, none of the some 350 cases filed against the perpetrators have been prosecuted. Also to this very day, the investigative report prepared by a government-appointed tribunal never has been released to the public.
The problems began when the house of a Christian named Raji Baba was raided by the police in Shantinagar; they suspected Raji Baba of selling alcohol and of gambling. During the raid, one—or more—of the police officers threw a Bible to the floor.
Raji Baba told people in the village about the Bible incident, which upset many of the Christians. Later a group of Christians went to the police station to register a case against the four police officers who raided the house and threw down the Bible, but the police administration refused to allow a case to be registered. Raji Baba, however, was arrested by the police on suspicion of selling alcohol and of gambling.
The Christian group, unwilling to accept the police administration's failure to register a case, went again to the police station and demonstrated outside and also in Khanewal City. This got into the newspapers, which brought more impassioned pleas that something be done about the four police officers. Finally it was agreed that they would be suspended.
However, they were not. Again, the Christians became upset, and again demanded that a case be registered against the officers. Also they demanded that Raji Baba be released from jail. By this time, he had been held some two weeks, and there was no evidence that he was guilty of either matter with which he stood accused. Finally Baba was released, and a case was registered against the four police officers, with Raji Baba as the complainant. This angered the officers, who were Muslim, and they then registered a case against Baba himself and three others. The charge: burning pages from the Quran. The officers had taken pages from a Quran, burned the edges of them, and then written the names of each of the four alleged blasphemers on the pages. The pages then were left in a mosque, and when Muslims came to pray at the next call to prayer, the pages were found. Immediately the imam of the mosque was called in and shown the pages, and just as quickly an announcement was made over the mosque loudspeakers—used for the calls to prayer—for all Muslims to come out into the streets to punish the Christians for defiling the Quran.
The huge mob that gathered headed to Khanewal City, burning the Christians' houses and everything in and outside of them. All together about 35 homes and 13 Christian churches were destroyed, along with hundreds of Bibles, hymnbooks and other religious books and items used for worship.
The Christians in Shantinagar heard about the mob and went to authorities there, asking for protection. The authorities refused to try and stop the mob, so when the mob got to Shantinagar, there was no one to stop them. They cut all communication lines, so that no one in the village could call out, and they proceeded to fire bomb the entire village. In addition to houses, they burned out the Catholic Church and the Salvation Army Church there, again also destroying Bibles and other religious books and items used for worship.
The mob had gathered early in the morning, and by late afternoon, the burning and looting still were going on. Only after everything was destroyed and looted did the authorities come, but the mob was so large and the situation was so out of control that the army had to be called in. Not one person in the mob was arrested.
Not until a legal assistance office got involved did any of the some 350 cases get registered by the police against the Muslim offenders. Again, to this very day, none has been prosecuted by the government.
According to the HRCP's Report, referenced hereinabove, the residents of Shantinagar, as of early 1999, still were struggling with the government over its failure to provide rehabilitation in and restoration of Shantinagar. Burned and lost identity cards, which every Pakistani citizen must have, had not been replaced. The Agricultural Development Bank had not written off loans as promised and had detained people who were in arrears. The utility company, which had promised to cancel all electric bills for February and March, 1997, had not done so. Rather, it had cut off electricity for nonpayment of bills in those months. Also according to the Report, only a few of the houses had been rebuilt. 19
Some Shantinagar Christians were beneficiaries of donations from people in other countries who had heard of their predicament; these were the more fortunate ones, if indeed fortunate even can describe these Christian people. Those who did not receive such donations still were suffering greatly, continuing to live in the middle of destruction.
Many more situations illustrate the plight of persecuted Christians in Pakistan. A few brief summaries follow.
Muzaffargarh District: Nine hundred Christian families in some nine villages in Muzaffargarh, not far from Khanewal, cannot obtain proprietary rights to property on which they have lived since 1976. During the past few years a group of influential local Muslims have been active in land seizing, and many Christian families already have evicted from their land and left shelterless. Other Christian families have been threatened that if they did not give up their land, they would be treated like their Christian brothers in Shantinagar and Khanewal.
Narowal District: 600 Christian families settled in an area of Narowal District on lands given to them on lease in 1947, when India and Pakistan were partitioned. They have continued to pay the government for the lands, but proprietary rights have not been given to them as promised. One Christian man was killed in a Christian-Muslim riot over this land, but no case was registered against the accused killer.
Sheikhupura: Here lived a man named Ismaeel Bhatti, a Christian. He had received 12-1/2 acres of land from his father in a particular village. A group of Muslims from this same village wanted the land and so falsely accused him and his son of abducting a woman and getting her married to some person. He was fined 75,000 rupees (approximately $1,500.00 USD) by the village council called to hear this matter, and told that if he did not pay this, his land would be taken. Bhatti and his family were driven off the land by this Muslim group.
This is the price of being a Christian in Pakistan.
The reality is a society rife with hatred and active, actual persecution of Christians and other minorities, with permission to carry this out given by the law itself to the Muslim civilian, police and judiciary.
In a December 1999 interview with I. A. Rehman, Director of HRCP and himself a Muslim, Mr. Rehman acknowledged to the authors problems with the Constitution and its resultant discrimination against minorities. While agreeing that the Constitution states equality as a principle, he said, "We have problems. There are things such as Article 2 and Article 2A—even the name of the state of Pakistan—we [HRCP] took a position some years ago to abolish Articles 2 and 2A." This, however, has never happened.
He further noted that HRCP "knows" that the Constitutional provisions "providing protection for religious minorities are inadequate." The Commission, he says, just wants Pakistan to be "nonsectarian, if [people] don't like calling it secular." He added that the Commission already is "under attack" for opposing Islamisation of Pakistan.
When questioned about particular issues, such as one's religion being added to National Identification Cards, Mr. Rehman emphasized that the Commission had noted this problem and had concluded that "religious discrimination on the basis of recording goes much deeper than just having such a registration law. We have not been able to get far enough away from these laws that we can raise these issues successfully."
When asked whether in the Commission's report, HRCP tread lightly on Christian issues so as not to offend the Muslim majority, Mr. Rehman said there was no intent to do so—that "we've stated clearly Christians are discriminated against."
Mr. Rehman continued by saying that the judges are not interpreting the law; rather they are using their own subjective social values. The judicial system, he believes, "is acting outside the law." Further there is "no system of redress for the general people."
When asked about the inability to build churches, he replied, "So? It is, of course, discrimination." He advised that the Commission is looking into this issue and into the problem of the taking of Christians' lands. 20
Persecution in the Judiciary
The discrimination against and persecution of the Christians in Pakistan does not occur only among the village people; it also occurs at all other levels of the citizenry, even among the judiciary.
The Shariat Courts
Article 175 of the Constitution of 1973 established a Supreme Court for the entire country, a High Court for each of the four provinces, and "such other courts as may be established by law." 21
In 1979, for the first time a religious court was established by Constitutional amendment. Called the Federal Shariat Court, it is at the same level as the High Courts. However, its judges all must be Muslim; in fact up to three may be ulema, who are Muslim scholars trained in Islam and Islamic law. It has the power to determine whether any law is repugnant to the injunctions of Islam and then strike down that law if it is found to be so. This Court also has the power to hear appeals of convictions under the Hudood Ordinance. 22
At the same time, a Shariat Bench in the Supreme Court of Pakistan also was established to hear appeals from the Federal Shariat Court. Again, only Muslim judges can sit on the Shariat Bench, and it has the last word on all such appeals. 23
One final point: Only Muslim lawyers are allowed to appear before either. 24
As discussed above, as Islamisation has progressed, so, too, has the discrimination against Christians and other non-Muslims in the courtroom. Whether it be refusing to appoint and seat Christian judges or refusing to allow Christian judges to hear certain types of cases or disallowing Christian lawyers to represent citizens in the courtroom, the situation is worsening, not improving, for Christians and other non-Muslims in Pakistan.
Mohan L. Shahani
As mentioned earlier in this report, Mohan Lal Shahani is a former Justice of the Sindh High Court who was not reconfirmed to the bench after serving a one-year appointment in the High Court. The only reason ever given: He is a Christian, and he does not hide his beliefs. This is his story of discrimination and persecution. 25
Mr. Shahani obtained his L.L.B. in 1973 from the University of Sindh and had a very successful law practice in Karachi, Sindh Province, when, in 1996, he was appointed Advocate General for the province. In Pakistan, lawyers are termed advocates, and in this position he prepared the Government's defense in cases brought to challenge certain government action.
While in this position, the Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court requested his appointment to the High Court bench, which appointment was made in January 1997. A new Chief Justice later took over, who decided that Justice Shahani should not be confirmed for longer than the initial one-year term. Again, no reason ever was stated for this action—except that he was a Christian. He still asks today to be told if there were any other reason.
After he was removed from the bench in January 1998, his car was shot at while he was on his way to court representing a client. His driver was hit, but he was not.
It was not the first time Mr. Shahani had faced discrimination and persecution for his openness about Christianity. After he was appointed Advocate General for Sindh, a petition was filed in the High Court of Sindh by one Syed Iqbal Haider, a Muslim and Chairman of the Muslim Welfare Movement, challenging Shahani's appointment as Advocate General. The grounds for the challenge, as succinctly stated by the Court in its final Order, had been that "the Respondent . . . [Shahani], being a non-Muslim, cannot hold office of the Advocate General as he has to interpret Sharia Laws." 26
The High Court summarily dismissed the Petition with a strongly worded Order, attached hereto as Exhibit F. The Order clearly shows a judge with courage, which so many judges in Pakistan now lack. This was a judge who cited another important provision of the Constitution—that provision guaranteeing certain fundamental rights to minorities of "equality of status, of opportunity and before law, social, economic and political justice and freedom." 27
Again, the 1998 Report of the HRCP details "Attacks on Judiciary," "Other Attacks," and several other sections concerning judges and lawyers and their being beaten up or killed. Regarding some 15 lawyers who were killed in 1998, the Report states, "Personal enmity was suspected as the motive in only a few of these murders. Most of these lawyers apparently became the target on account of their religious/sectarian associations." 28
One of the most serious incidents, and one that is believed to have caused the judiciary to lose its courage to properly interpret and apply the law, was the murder of Lahore High Court Judge Arif Iqbal Bhatti discussed in detail above, the Judge who acquitted two accused Christian blasphemers.
As a result of having seen the current situation in Pakistan, detailed hereinabove, the writers of this report make the following recommendations:
(1) All Christians in jail awaiting trial under any section of the blasphemy law--295, 295A, 295B, or 295C--must be released immediately and remain free until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The accuser must be required to state—and do so under oath—exactly what the words or actions of blasphemy were before a case can be registered and a person arrested.
(2) Whether in the accusatory stage or at trial, the evidence offered and admitted and the conduct of the proceedings otherwise must be that which would be comply with internationally recognized procedures. Evidence obtained under duress shall be inadmissible, and so shall hearsay and other questionable forms of proof. Perjury must be prosecuted.
(3) All property of Christians that has been confiscated shall be returned, whether it be individual, church or mission. Compensation must be made to these Christian individuals, churches or missions for all such property destroyed that cannot be returned. At the very least they must be made whole again.
(4) Likewise a compensation plan must be instituted immediately to pay Christian victims for the injustices committed against them and their families by individuals as well as by the Islamic mobs. These are the victims of prejudice and of persecution through religious violence: the widow and ten fatherless children of Manzoor Masih; 9-year-old Nagina Masih, her mother, and her sisters and brothers, who cannot go to school and do not have food to eat because their father is falsely imprisoned; Ayub Masih, who is dying in jail, and his family; Emmanuel Bhatti, who will never eat on his own or dress himself; and so many others.
(5) Many of these families must be relocated to other areas, even other countries, where they can get a fresh start. They must be given opportunities and the funds to do this.
(6) Just as in cases such as Emmanuel Bhatti's, the corrupt police and others who have acted illegally must be brought to justice; they must be prosecuted for their actions and made to pay for their crimes.
(7) The abductors of minors must be brought to justice and the minors returned to their parents. The law regarding kidnapping must be implemented and applied in these situations, as this is a most egregious matter whereby minor children can be removed from their parents without parental notification, opportunity for hearing or input from the child.
(8) So, too, must the Muslim fundamentalists be brought to justice for abduction, rape and forced conversion to Islam of Christian girls. They must be prosecuted for these crimes. In order to do this, the laws regarding evidence must be changed to remove the unequal weight given to a male's testimony over that of a female and especially to remove the unequal weight given a Muslim's testimony over that of a Christian. The evidence law requiring multiple witnesses to a rape also must be struck.
A PLEA AND A PLEDGE
The writers hereof issue a plea—a plea for the recommendations above to be implemented.
We also issue an urgent plea to all the international organizations of which Pakistan is a member to boldly and intensely look into and investigate the matters reported herein and the innumerable other human rights violations that are occurring daily in that country.
We ask them to verify these for themselves and to hold the Pakistan government accountable for these atrocities, demanding that such cease immediately and that measures be implemented forthwith to prevent any further such harm to the Christians in Pakistan and to protect their interests in the future.
We call on the following specifically: The United Nations, together with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; the International Labor Organization; the World Trade Organization; the World Bank; the World Health Organization; the Organization of American States; and the Commonwealth of Nations.
We ask them to enforce the terms of the human rights treaties and conventions to which Pakistan is a signatory or party:
(1) The United Nations
(2) The International Labour Organisation
Each of the foregoing documents clearly affirms "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights" as its basis. This Declaration proclaims:
"Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status."29 (Emphasis added.)
We call generally on all other associations in which Pakistan shares membership and all countries with which Pakistan has treaties to step forward and use all available resources and means to stop this persecution and demand equal rights for all citizens of Pakistan. Pakistan must be brought to account for these killings, these tortures, and the other inhumane and discriminatory treatment imposed on those unable to defend themselves because their rights have been abolished.
The writers also issue a plea to business organizations that operate within Pakistan to take a very long and close look at the atrocities revealed in this report, to use this as a springboard to investigate for themselves the unjust and evil practices ongoing in the country and to determine whether or not they will continue to do business with those who promote such denial of human rights.
We issue this plea specifically to McDonald's; the Pepsi-Cola Company; American Express Bank Ltd.; Bank of America, NT & SA; Chase Manhattan Bank, NA; Citibank, NA, all of America; Standard Chartered Bank, of the United Kingdom; ANZ Grindlays Bank Ltd., of Australia; and Deutsche Bank AG, of Germany.
Further the authors make a plea to the trading partners of Pakistan also to take these matters very seriously and to apply every pressure possible to change the existing system. We issue this plea specifically to the European Union, the United States and Japan and generally to all other countries trading with Pakistan that value and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.
A very special appeal goes out to all Christian bodies—international, national, state, regional and local—to telephone, write and lobby their representatives on behalf of the Pakistani Christians to bring pressure to bear on the Pakistani government for release of all the Christians currently charged with violations of the blasphemy law—Sections 295A, B or C—and otherwise imprisoned on false charges arising from personal vendettas. We also implore these Christian bodies to pray daily for the Christians, for their continued strength, and for the release of those in prisons.
The writers also implore each and every concerned Christian to pledge to continue to fight individually, through every peaceful means, for justice on behalf of the Pakistani Christians, for an end to the atrocities that these fellow Christians are suffering, and for specific guarantees that these will not be repeated over and over again.
We beseech all Christians to pledge to pray daily for their suffering brothers and sisters in Pakistan and for the many other tormented Christians elsewhere in the world and to pray always for the culprits—who continue to walk in darkness, under the veil of fear—that they would come to have knowledge of the one and only living Saviour—the One for whom their victims would rather die than deny.
Galpin, Muslims Attack Christian Shops, The Guardian (11 May 1998).
Hussain, Suicide Protest by Bishop Over Blasphemy Case, The Times (8 May 1998).
Hussain, Punjab Police Fire on Christian Mourners, The Times (9 May 1998).
Qadri, An Article on the Hudood and Qadiani Ordinance and Apostasy and Blasphemy in Pakistan (September 1998) (unpublished article).
Rehman, A Litany of Injustice, Newsline (June 1998).
Rehman, The Last Testament, Newsline (June 1998).
Scott-Clark and Levy, The Price of Prayer, The Sunday Times Magazine (24 January 1999).
Shahani, Fifteenth Amendment and the Fears of Non-Muslim Citizens (1999) (limited circulation).
Shahani, Outlawed by Faith (1996) (limited circulation).
Shahani, Shariat Bill & Non-Muslims in Pakistan (April 1991) (limited circulation).
Dharmaraj and Dharmaraj, Christianity and Islam: A Missiological Encounter, (ISPCK, 1999).
State of Human Rights in 1998 (February 1999) (Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Publisher).
The Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 (with all amendments up to 1992) (A. N. Sohail, Publisher).
The Major Acts (1998), (Kausar Brothers, Publisher).
Ye'or, Jews and Christians under Islam: The Dhimmis.
Syed Iqbal Haider v. Governor of Sindh, C. P. No. D-36 (1997).
Emmanuel Bhatti v. S.H.O. Police Station Abdullah Pur, Faisalabad, W. P. No. 11186 (1999).
Individual Case Files (as listed herein).
TREATIES AND OTHER DOCUMENTS
Convention Concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation (Convention 111) (1958)
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (22) (1981)
Convention on the Rights of the Child (26) (1990)
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (10) (1969)
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
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