Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin – No. 356 – Wed 07 Dec 2005
PAKISTAN: SYSTEMATIC PERSECUTION AND INJUSTICE
RLP 355 November Update included a paragraph on an appalling
incident of Islamic violence in Sangla Hill, 130km from Lahore,
Pakistan. A Muslim falsely accused a Christian of desecrating the
Koran during an argument over gambling remittances. Exploiting the
situation, Islamic clerics called Muslims to the mosques and
incited them to ‘defend Islam’ and attack the Christians. The
subsequent pogrom involving more than 2000 Muslims drove some 450
Christian families from their homes. Three churches along with
manses and libraries were razed, as well as a convent and two
church-owned schools. According to an editorial in Pakistan’s Daily
Times (28 November) the mob, armed with ‘sticks, stones, big
hammers and bottles of chemicals’ went out to attack the churches.
‘They raised cries of “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) and “Asai
kuttay hai-hai” (Down with the Christian dogs).’ The violence went
unchecked because it was tacitly sanctioned by local police and
officials. The editorial notes that the Catholic church was built
in Sangla Hill in 1951 and Muslim-Christian tension has been rare,
‘but conditions have begun to change after the escalation of
radical thinking among the local Muslim community’.
The recent earthquake has left Pakistan in desperate need of aid
and assistance. As the aid and assistance is coming overwhelmingly
from Western nations and Christian NGOs (foreign and local), the
anti-Christian pogrom in Sangla Hill is both an embarrassment and a
threat. So the Daily Times editorial notes, ‘The destruction of the
churches in Sangla Hill has hurt Pakistan’s image at a time when it
needs positive publicity abroad.’ But the violence hasn’t ‘hurt’
Pakistan’s image as much as it has exposed and highlighted an ugly
disfigurement that is usually covered up.
The Daily Times editorial also reports that in May 2005 a clash
occurred in Sathiali Kalan, a village in the same district as
Sangla Hill, in which a Christian Chapel was torched: ‘…the
police rounded up five Christians (and no Muslims) who are still
“in custody” without trial.’ After detailing these abuses and
injustices against Pakistan’s Christian minority, the editorial
expresses profound shock at the response of Lahore’s Islamic
clerics. They are protesting the arrest of 88 Muslim rioters and
vandals, claiming it was Christian clergy who torched the churches,
manses, libraries, convent and schools. They are also accusing
Christian clergy of burning a Koran ‘library’ (a house set aside
for the storage of abandoned pages of the Koran). During Friday
prayers on 2 December, Islamic clerics continued to call Muslims to
unite and eliminate the Christians. The tension is extreme.
The Daily Times joined the Christian community of Sangla Hill in
calling for a ‘High Court-level judicial inquiry’. The case is
presently being heard in the Nakana Sahib District Court, with
Muslims refusing to implicate Muslims, although their conflicting
‘evidence’ is damaging their standing. The Hong Kong-based Asia
Human Rights Commission is also calling for Pakistan to hold a High
High level systematic persecution of Christians is also being
played out in Sind Province. Bishop Anthony Lobo of Islamabad-
Rawalpindi accuses the government of expelling Christians from
their homes so they can be given over to Muslim earthquake victims.
Bishop Lobo says hundreds of families are being evicted to make
room for the displaced from Kashmir. He said he knew of at least 40
families (about 200 people) evicted around Joharabad, near Karachi.
‘All the people are being thrown out, all of them are Christians’,
he said. (CNS 1 December) Bishop Lobo fears that thousands of
Christians may be evicted so their homes can be given to Muslims.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR GOD TO INTERVENE SO THAT:
* the government of Pakistan will have the sense, courage and
strength to cut off radicalisation and incitement to violence at
its source – in the Wahhabi-led, pro-jihad madrassas and
* the blasphemy law will be repealed.
* holding a High Court inquiry into the violence in Sangla Hill
will expose evil and injustice, and lay the foundations for
social and legal reform, as well as for religious liberty.
* evicting Christian families from their homes in Sind Province
will end and justice will be done.
* the powerful hold the Islamic clerics have over the poor masses
will be broken.
May God in his mercy, through the ministry and witness of his
Church, by the power of his Holy Spirit, draw multitudes of
Pakistanis to Christ the one and only Saviour, so corrupted
consciences can be restored, and violence and hatred be put to
death. (Titus 1:15; 2 Corinthians 3:7-18; Titus 2:11-14)
‘You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power
amongst the peoples.’ Psalm 77:14
SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE:
SYSTEMATIC PERSECUTION AND INJUSTICE IN PAKISTAN
In mid-November at Sangla Hill (outside Lahore) a Muslim, during a
financial dispute with a Christian, falsely accused the Christian
of desecrating Korans. Exploiting this, Islamic clerics called
Muslims to the mosques, inciting them to ‘defend Islam’ and attack
the Christians. Over 2000 Muslims rampaged, burning churches and
driving some 450 Christian families from their homes. The pogrom
went unchecked with tacit support from local police and officials.
The earthquake has left Pakistan in great need of aid which is
coming primarily from Western nations and Christian NGOs. The anti-
Christian violence at Sangla Hill is therefore embarrassing
Pakistan, with several groups calling for a High Court inquiry.
Also reported are hundreds of Christians in Sind Province being
evicted and their homes given to Muslims displaced from Kashmir.
Please pray that God will redeem evil that good may come of it.
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specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.
RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.