Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christian persecution in Pakistan

Children of Asia Bibi holding a picture of their mother
The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward who stated, "This man said, 'I can destroy the temple of God and within three days rebuild it.'"

The high priest rose and addressed him, "Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?" But Jesus was silent.

Then the high priest said to him, "I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God."

Jesus said to him in reply, "You have said so. But I tell you: From now on you will see 'the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power' and 'coming on the clouds of heaven.'"

Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He has blasphemed! What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the blasphemy; what is your opinion?" They said in reply, "He deserves to die!"

Then they spat in his face and struck him, while some slapped him, saying, "Prophesy for us, Messiah: who is it that struck you?"

 – Matthew 26:59-68
On November 17 Pope Benedict XVI personally appealed for the life of a Pakistani woman that was condemned to death on November 8 for the crime of blasphemy. Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother of five, is a Christian in predominantly Muslim Pakistan. In his statement the Pope said he felt a “spiritual closeness” to Bibi and her family. Her crime is described in this account from a Pakistani newspaper.
Ms Asia’s case dates back to June 2009 when she was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields. But a group of Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she should not touch the water bowl.

A few days later the women went to a local cleric and alleged that Ms Asia made derogatory remarks about the Prophet (peace be upon him). The cleric went to police, who opened an investigation.

Ms Asia was arrested in Ittanwalai village and prosecuted under Section 295-C of the PPC, which carries the death penalty.
The "derogatory remarks" that Mrs. Aisa is accused of having made apparently amount to nothing more than defending her Christian beliefs. This account is from the Pakistan Christian Post.
While working in farms with other Muslim women, Asia Bibi was dragged in religious dialogues on June 19, 2009, when Muslim women termed her an “Infidel” and Christianity a “Religion of infidels” and pressed her to embrace Islam.

Asia Bibi who is married and have two children, defended Christianity with her little knowledge and told Muslim women that Christianity is only True religion on which Muslim women made a roar and accused her defiling Prophet Mohammad.

The Muslim men working in nearby fields also gathered and attacked Asia Bibi on which she fled to village in her home. The angry Muslims followed her and took her out of home and started beating her. They tortured her children also but meanwhile some one informed police.

The police took Asia Bibi to police Station and filed FIR against her under section 295-B and C of Pakistan Penal Code but showed it a protective custody to other Christians of Ittanwali village.

Section 295 B and C PPC are subject to life in prison or death sentence but it is first judgment in history of Pakistan when a woman is sentenced to death.
And here is another account which offers some more details. This one is from a group called Release International, the "voice of persecuted Christians". They have an online petition here.
Asia, who is from Ittanwali in Punjab province, laboured in the fields for a Muslim landlord. She was arrested after a heated discussion about religion with her fellow farmworkers. Hers was one of only three Christian families in the village.

Some of the women workers had been putting her under pressure to renounce her Christian faith and accept Islam. She responded by sharing with them about her faith in Christ.

Asia spoke of how Jesus Christ had died on the cross for their sins and then asked them what Mohammed had done for them.

On hearing this response the Muslim women became very angry and began to beat her. Some men took Asia by force and locked her in a room. They used the PA system of a local mosque to broadcast plans to punish Asia by blackening her face and parading her through the village on a donkey.

According to Release partners, a mob formed and Asia was violently abused by Muslim villagers and clerics. Her children were also beaten.

However, some Christians informed the police and Asia was taken into protective custody. Pressure to charge her was brought to bear by Muslim leaders. Sentence was passed yesterday.

Asia was also fined £728 – the equivalent of two-and-a half years’ salary for an unskilled worker.

Release partners in Pakistan say the sentence is a crushing blow for Asia, who was hoping to be acquitted and return to her husband and children. They say: ‘Although Asia has great courage, her dreams of release have vanished now. Please pray for her encouragement, strength and protection.’
Mrs. Asia has been condemned to death for the same crime which Jesus was condemned to death some 2000 years ago. The crime of blasphemy.

Pakistan is a partner with the United States in its "war against terror" in Afghanistan. And yet I couldn't find a single statement from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that even mentioned Asia Bibi.

Amnesty International which was originally founded by a Jewish convert to Christianity, Peter Benenson, has absolutely nothing to say about Asia Bibi. Apparently protecting the freedoms of Christians to practice their faith is not on the AI agenda, while pro-abortion activity has recently become a new campaign. CORRECTION: After some pleading from the British Pakistani Christian Association, AI finally came out with a statement on November 19 asking for the release of Asia (Aasia) Bibi. But don't try to find this statement on the AI website without a direct link.

Human Rights Watch has done a much better job of campaigning to free Asia Bibi. They have launched a high profile campaign to repeal the Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan as a direct result of her case.  I would however offer a note of caution regarding the stance of HRW. It may be that they are so eagerly pursuing the repeal of the Blasphemy Laws because they see in it a chance to attack organized religion – in this case Islam. This case should not be taken as an opportunity to attack Muslims in general. While Christians have many differences with Muslims, we also share many of the same beliefs rising from our shared heritage rooted in Abraham.

You should also be aware that like Amnesty International, HRW has become a pro-abortion advocacy group. In fact it appears that they actually preceded AI in declaring abortion to be a "human right". HRW appears to have gone pro-abortion in 2005, while AI turned pro-abortion in 2007. It shouldn't even need to be said that by declaring abortion to be a fundamental "human right" these organizations have declared that unborn children are not human.

Consider then the response of Asia Bibi when her coworkers refused to drink the water she had touched because they claimed that she was unclean. She said, “are we not human?”

And for that she was condemned to death.

----

UPDATE: There are some conflicting news reports that Asia Bibi has been released or pardoned. These seem to be mostly rumors at this point, but hopefully they will soon become reality.

12 comments:

  1. Its strange how there is a lot of synchronicity in the air these past few hours. Asia is, as it appears, a sort of a martyr in a hopeless situation. I cannot imagine how the Christian families can live in such a staunch muslim area - I dont mean to sound racist in any way, I am just remembering my experience in Syria last year where me and a couple of other 'western girls' got lost deep in the old Aleppo market and were almost set upon by the WOMEN - one cursed and spat at my feet - another followed us around to each stall shouting at the shop keeper not to serve us because it was against God (Allah) etc etc etc!!
    It was sort of a reverse rascism as WE became the Muslims in NYC that day (if you know what I mean?)!!
    But back to martydom - It was St Cecelia day on 22nd and I caught a split second of a news report from Guatamala or somewhere not realising that it was a saint day at the time. That night I dreamed of a Saint Day celebration with icons and the whole shebang then I looked up the news again and realised it was St Cecelia who was martyred for her Christian beliefs. I just found all this quite weird.
    Marty

    ReplyDelete
  2. Marty. You always have very interesting comments. Thanks for telling me about St. Cecilia. I had to look up some information about her since I was not familiar with her.
    http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-cecilia/

    Your experience in Syria sounds frightening. It is certainly appropriate to mention this with respect to the sorrowful situation that Asia Bibi finds herself in.

    On the one hand you have the religious extremism of some Muslim countries where the faith is defended so strongly that it can result in someone being executed for "blasphemy", and on the other hand you have the militant atheism of the West where Christian symbols are openly mocked and desecrated.

    I would like to see some sort of middle ground in the US where we banned from TV some of the more offensive music videos for instance. This used to be the norm here up until fairly recently. Christianity because of a strong ethic of tolerance has been the victim of a secular assault. There is no easy solution. The burden is on Christians to radically transform the culture in which we live.

    One of the problems is that we are fighting against Humanism which pretends to adopt many of the moral principles of Christianity, but then twists them in a way that they are actually in opposition to Christianity. So for example abortion becomes a "human rights" issue.

    BTW, I don't know if you got what I was implying at the end of the article in comparing the unborn child and Bibi. The point is the de-humanization of the enemy. This is a powerful concept which is used by militaries throughout history. And is now used by the pro-abortion forces.

    It is a very sad thing that the core defining issues of the modern "women's movement" are abortion and contraception. If we Christians want to radically transform the culture, this is the place to start. And women like St. Cecilia show us that there is more to being a strong woman than a selfish indulgence in sexual pleasure.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't meant to be rude with you Michael but we share nothing with Muslims other than what muhammad copied from the Old and New Testament. I do respect their right to profess their own beliefs but to me Jesus is the only Savior, the Catholic Church is the One, Holy and Apostolic Church and there is no salvation in any other form.

    To me the Asia case has to do more with the current trend of prosecuting and killing Christians all over the world. As the alliance between left/socialism and Islam becomes more and more evident.

    International organizations as usual try to profit from any case and will seek to damage both parts to proceed with their agendas.

    I just hope that Asia is allowed to go back to her family and that silly law is abolished. May God have mercy on her soul!

    You forgot to mention one of her statements, she said that she rather die being a Christian than live as a muslim. That wasn't very pleasing to them.

    Please Michael don't fall in error. We have absolutely nothing in common with Islam other than a couple of things, and by no means will they be saved.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Michael. I've re-read the end of the article. I see what you are saying. You are absolutely right regarding the abortion issue. They have indeed 'de-humanised' the un-born child. It is a simple basic lie that people, especially young people seem to have fallen for the lies in their 'brainwashed' selfish indulgences.

    This is graphic and you may not want to post my comment. From my perspective, the doctors I deal with use medical/technical terms that no one really understands to mask the basic task they perform daily. Here in this country, as there is no upper-limit to how many weeks a baby can be 'removed' before abortion is illegal, I know for a fact that abortions are being undertaken on real developed fetuses (this is horrific and I am sorry to write it) which is pure murder. On one occasion a nurse confided in me that she was thinking of leaving because she couldn't stop thinking about the baby's legs, she saw with her own eyes, sticking out of the bag post abortion! I feel sick just recalling what she told me.

    It is ironic that I see women everyday who come into the clinic and leave crying because they are told they cannot have children, while there are women on the 2nd floor having unwanted babies removed. There are Christian symbols all over the building and most of the women that we treat are Christians...There are pamphlets about using contraceptive vaccinations and the doctors talk loudly about everyones sexual practices...but there is never anything said about reducing sexual partners or the dangers of the drugs and medical procedures to the patients(which is obvious I guess) so I can image that the only information out to these young girls and women is all from the womens lib. movement or the drug companies...It is almost impossible for people NOT to become brainwaashed about these issues...and blinded to the dangers also.

    Marty

    P.S. I find your site very informative, did I tell you?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Paco. First of all Happy Thanksgiving!

    With regards to relationships between the Catholic Church and Islam, I think that there are many things to consider. You are absolutely correct in pointing out the many differences between Muslims and Catholics with respect to our faiths. However, the Church in its official documents chooses to draw attention to the areas of agreement and similarity.

    Jesus teaches us through his example the importance of reaching out to those who have different beliefs than our own. Remember... the good Samaritan, the Samaritan woman at the well, the Canaanite woman who begged for crumbs, the Roman centurion who said he was not worthy that Jesus should come under his roof, and the good thief.

    St. Paul also teaches us to reach out to our brothers who have different beliefs and cultures than our own. He was the Apostle to the Gentiles which would have included believers in Greek and Roman gods as well as other non-Jews. Central among his teachings was that it was not necessary for Gentiles to convert to Judaism as symbolized by the act of circumcision in order to become Christians. These were radical ideas at the time and like Jesus, St. Paul paid the price with his life.

    In past centuries when the great struggle in the world was between the faiths, Christianity and Islam were in a constant battle for supremacy. Today the great struggle is between believers and non-believers. If you look at the papacy of Benedict XVI, you will see that he has focused much of his energy on fighting secularism. In this battle Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists can become our allies.

    We have to be careful that in opposing Islam, we don't end up helping the secular forces to wipe out all belief in God and replace it with a godless materialism. I think that it is in recognition of this that the Cathechism states (841):

    "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."

    It doesn't mean that we stop praying for Muslims to fully accept the teaching of Christ. But we acknowledge their partial acceptance of these teachings and work to increase that. The best way to do that is through our own Christ-like example. Asia Bibi has set an example by refusing to give up her Christianity in the face of persecution - even when threatened with death.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Marty. Thanks for your comment. I think what you are seeing are the contradictions of a eugenic society. Today's eugenics movement hides behind euphemisms like "planned parenthood" and "pro-choice". When the grim realities are the ones that you describe.

    As we enter this season of Advent, the Church turns its eyes towards the coming of Christ. It is a reminder of our mortality and our coming judgement. When we lose our faith, then life loses its meaning. We are like lost sheep wandering aimlessly in search of a green pasture. We don't even seem to be aware that all the while we are being devoured by wolves.

    Our Father, Abba, is calling and offering us shelter, food and drink, but we don't listen. We are lured away by the distant sound of pan pipes. We must silence the noise in order to hear Him calling. We must learn to control our passions in order to allow room for Him to enter our hearts.

    Most importantly, do not judge. When you feel anger or jealousy or hatred, offer it up to God. Let Him be the judge. This will set you free from the burden of judging others and will allow you to live your own life. Then as you kneel before the Divine Judge and beg for mercy, you will receive the comfort of His Son who died for our sins and descended into Hell.

    St. Mary Magdalene who received the blessing to be the first to see the resurrected Christ, pray for us.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you very much for your kind response Michael. However I beg you not to fall in error by thinking that Muslims are in any way going to be saved just for believing in some of what Abraham believed.

    There is no salvation without faith in our Savior Jesus Christ, there is no real life in a person unless they consume Jesus Christ's flesh and blood and there is simply no way to enter through heaven unless it is through Christ himself.

    I agree we must not discriminate them, however, that does not mean that the Catholic faith should find a way to integrate them. They are welcome to abandon their beliefs and fully embrace Catholicism any day they want, but the Catholic faith must not by any means be mixed, changed, modified or adapted just to welcome in strangers.

    St. Paul did a great work with those who weren't of Jewish origin, however he never modified not even one word from the teachings of Christ to try to welcome those people in. He had a welcoming attitude and a very kind way to teach, however, he never moved not even a little bit to the right nor to the left.

    Please do not get confused, do not change or try to adapt or even accept anything from the Quran or the Talmud. It would definitely risk your salvation, because God Almighty is very clear, we must never move not even one inch neither to the left nor to the right.

    What I mean is that the door is open for whoever wants to get in, but anyone is allowed to change what is inside for any reason, for the Church belongs to Jesus Christ.

    Please brother in Christ, do not fall in this type of heresy, plenty have fallen like this, including Luther and even Judas, please I beg you, stay strong in your faith, never turn to the left, never turn to the right. Never let your intellect get in the way of Christ.

    The fact that you are open for other people to become Catholic is amazing, but never ever accept/praise/believe anything from Islam, Judaism, Buddhism or any other religion other than the Catholic faith.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Michael, there is no such thing as partially believing in Christ, God is very specific about this type of people, they aren't hot nor cold, they will never get into heaven.

    I do not consider muslims, hindus, jews, buddhists, etc. allies. I am not with them, they are not with me. If we want to fight secularism we must fight it as Christians, as Catholics. Otherwise we would support the secularist view of religions.

    And the Catholic faith is never to be compared with any other faith, by any means, in any way. Never accept to think of yourself as the same as other people with different faiths.

    Christ is King, Christ is our Savior, Christ is the way to salvation. Do not underestimate him and compare him with dead human beings please.

    Even Benedict XVI has changed his way of thinking, he has become much more Orthodox, much more Catholic and a lot more supportive of traditions, he has finally realized that we must not join other religions, we must fight on our own.

    I beg you to reconsider your thoughts, please Michael.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Paco. I just want to remind you of the words of Our Lady of Fatima.

    "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy."

    Fatima, as you know, is the name of the daughter of Mohammed. So I believe, this prayer request is a message for the Muslim faith as well as the Christian faith. It explicitly says "all souls". It is up to God to be the Judge of Mankind. We can liberate ourselves by trusting in His Judgement. We are not even the jury. In fact we are on trial, and if not for His Mercy we would all be found guilty.

    I also remind you of the words of the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

    "For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world."

    We pray for mercy for "the whole world", not just Christians.

    I have begun to practice a simple spiritual exercise. When I feel upset or angry at someone or something, I stop myself and look up to Heaven and offer up to Heaven this sacrifice. I give it to God and let Him be the Judge. Then I am free to go about my day without all those heavy feelings burdening me down. I don't have to worry anymore about all the good and bad in the world. I can trust God to take care of it.

    Be careful not to fall into the practice of cursing anyone or anything. Those curses will burn in your own soul. Give it all up to God. You have done your duty as a Christian. You have observed the wickedness and have discerned the good from the bad. Now trust in Jesus. And know that whatever may come, God is with you and within you. If it is sorrow and pain, then blessed are you to follow in the footsteps of Christ on the path to Calvary. If joy and happiness, then share it with others.

    God bless you,
    Michael

    ReplyDelete
  10. Michael I do know about Fatima and the connections to the Quran, however, the message surrounding Fatima had nothing to do with Islam, and much more to do with stopping Communism from rising.

    I do not play as judge, nor do I condemn, I simply point out the facts, like Saint Paul or even Jesus Christ did. Telling people to repent, to not to move to the right, not to move to the left is not condemning, it is part of charity.

    I do understand your position, you wish to bring to heaven as many people as possible, and I beg you to understand mine, to not allow anyone to think that things will change in heaven for them to be accepted, because not even one point, or comma will be changed. The word of God is, was and will be the same.

    I am afraid that in your wish to have muslims to accept the Catholic faith you will start reading and accepting the Quran, and in the end lose your Catholic identity. Please brother in Christ, see the truth behind the lies, see how many prosecutions muslims execute to kill Christians.

    I know the US is guilty of killing many muslims, but the US is a freemasonic nation, not a Christian one, or Christian by name at most.

    One can judge a tree according to its fruits, I seek not to judge you, neither to make you become strict towards anyone, I just hope that you do not fall in any form of heresy.

    You are a very smart guy, and for that very reason satan can find ways of tricking your intellect the very same way he did with Luther and Judas and many others. Surrender your intellect to God Almighty, may Christ be your guide and destination, and may the Holy Spirit protect you from errors.

    I wish nothing but salvation for everyone, but I am well aware that in order to do so people must change, people must abandon their sinful ways, people must reject their false idols and fully embrace Christ, not half way, not just what they want, for many are called but very few are invited to the feast of the Wedding of the Lamb.

    The Quran isn't, wasn't and never will be holy nor heavenly inspired.

    Please understand my position and do not proceed in praising or reading any other religion's book. Read about the open prosecution of Christians in this planet, and you will see that the prosecutors are mostly muslims and communists. How can that ever be justified?

    Read about the heresy of Arianism, it shares plenty if not all the same ideas and theology with Islam, in fact some authors dare to say that Arianism is the predecessor of Islam. Please brother in Christ do not fall.

    May Christ be your one and only way to Salvation and may the Blessed Virgin Mary protect you from the evil dragon.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Just another thing I wanted to point out, all will receive the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, but not all will be saved. The prayer of Fatima is an intercession for all the world for them to surrender to Christ, it does not imply that muslims will be saved.

    Please Michael, meditate further on the meaning of the prayer of Fatima, and although the name is the same as muhammad's daughter there isn't much else in common.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Paco. I appreciate your words and understand what you are saying. There is a danger of falling into "relativism", which is a dogma of the culture. This says that there is no absolute Truth as taught by Christianity, but many (relative) truths. One can reject this and still see elements of the Christian Truth in other faiths. This is my understanding of the Catholic doctrine on this matter.

    The official statement of the Church with regards to Islam is found in Nostra Aetate:

    "3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

    Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom."

    ReplyDelete