A Humble Request on Christmas 2014

It’s past Midnight here in Malaysia so technically already Christmas Day. This post won’t be a long one I promise, just wanted to express my heart-felt blessings to you all whether you celebrate December 25th or not. My family and I actually don’t tend to make a big celebration on Christmas Day, since Christians are not certain of Christ’s birth and nowadays this day has become too comercialised with its Santa Clauses and gift-giving frenzies. It still is a beautiful season to exchange gifts of love to one another, the idea behind it being Christ given as a gift to the world (whenever that was!) .There’s something about Christmas that makes millions gather in anticipation, the gathering of family and friends, mostly warm and safe. I love the security and love Christmas offers year upon year.
In the spirit of this season could I humbly ask that you remember the Global Persecuted Church in your thoughts and prayers. While many of us have the liberty to see all of our loved ones before our eyes on this day or attend a Church service before feasting and gift-giving, countless Christians in Muslim countries do not fare so well. In fact, Christmas provides an optimal opportunity for militant Muslims – whether these be Boko Haram or Al-Shaabab militants or communities and individuals who target Christian worshippers, gathered in remembrance of their Lord’s birth. It happens annually without fail: throughout the Middle East, Africa, South-Central Asia and beyond. Whether the spilling of Christian blood this Season reaches global headlines this year or not, I already have embraced myself to receive the inevitable news of it.
Do take the time to remember our Asia Bibis, our Raif Badawis, our Pastor Saeed Abedinis figures, representative of thousands more like them – all jailed, whether for converting to Christianity or non-Christians imprisoned for expressing ‘non-Islamic’ sentiments. Remember all those locked away from their loved ones, deprived of their children, food and warmth in inhumane prison conditions. Remember the homeless and destitute, those fleeing from country to country, trying to establish a home to replace a livelihood shattered through religious or political differences. Remember all those who are sick, spending this day in hospitals but mainly those with no access to them. Especially remember those Mothers, hurting and inconsolable at the loss of their child. Making this day incomplete forevermore.
Cherish this Season then. Have a happy and healthy Christmas whatever your plans entail. May you always remain safe and sure in doing so.
God Bless & Happy Christmas!

Pakistan: Blasphemy To No End

There is no end to Pakistan’s blasphemy, no end to the depravation religious minorities are undergoing on a daily basis. I have been away from blogging for some time – partly due to university work but mostly due to the mental exhaustion and weariness one feels after reading, seeing and hearing about case after case after case of Christian torture, beating, murder . Although I write about a story that occurred a few weeks ago, even deciding to write about it years later would make no difference. The Islam I have ever known continues to persecute non-adherents mercilessly. The country of Pakistan has long become synonymous with religious intolerance, hatred and sectarian violence to the point where the difference between the testimonies of Asia Bibi, Shabhaz Bhatti and now Shehzad & Shama Masih is non-existent. For increasingly so, the blood of Pakistan’s Christians are being spilt in the name of blasphemy.
Blasphemy that is non-sensical when screamed from the mouth of a vengeful Muslim to evoke the Blasphemy Law – a blasphemy unto itself. There will be no end of accusing Pakistan’s Christians of blaspheming against Muhammad, against Muslims and against Islam itself. So long as hatred remains towards non-Muslims throughout the Islamic world, the much revered construction that is the blasphemy penal code will remain in force. Remain in force to be used to throw countless people into jail, rejecting their every appeal, whilst mistreating them and their families. This irrevocably changes the lives of the accused’s families, as they perpetually run for their lives, continually at risk of being hunted down like the animals they have become in their own country.
As many of you already know I have long become accustomed to this wretched Blasphemy Law, rendering me numb upon any case-study I stumble across. But as world leaders converge in combating any negative portrayal of Islam, as billions of aid pours through the Middle East and beyond, it is utterly incomprehensible to turn a blind eye to the treatment of Shehzad & Shama Masih, a young Christian couple beaten and burned to death. This couple was accused of desecrating Quranic pages and were dragged by a local mob, where they were then subsequently tied up, legs broken and burnt to death. Such treatment of these parents of three (with a fourth child on the way) should trigger the question of why, when billions of aid pumped into Pakistan to develop and benefit the nation – why Western leaders and the wider Christian world in particular – fail to actively show their opposition to such anti- Christian behaviour, particularly] when such aid is still essentially Christian aid.
One cannot help but feel blind anger at the lack of Pakistani government action in addition to international response. The beating and burning of any Muslim mother of three, whilst four months pregnant would no doubt spark global outrage ,with Obama himself probably racing to the nearest podium to be heard first. Instead the lack of authoritative action against Christian persecution is becoming severely dire. As Father James Channan, coordinator of the United Religions Initiative and director of the Peace Centre of the Dominican Order in Pakistan, stated: ” Our present government has the worst record of not punishing the culprits of these cases. All of them are set free after a short time. There is a big question for us: Where is justice?”
Dr. Nazir S. Bhatti remarked in a letter to Obama that the U.S. Administration — the custodian of human rights, liberty and freedom of speech and expression around the world — did not even bother to condemn the horrific murder of the Christian couple by Islamic extremists in Pakistan. Moreover, the U.S. State Department has never uttered any comments at all about Christian persecution or the genocide of Christians.
There is no end to blasphemy in Pakistan. My question to global leaders is this: why do you think the Pakistani government pardons Sunni criminals, whilst Asia Bibi is detained in prison, deprived of her children? Why can Pakistani police be bribed to dismiss murder, theft, domestic violence whilst one accusation of blasphemy against the nation’s Christians see them immediately arresting and detaining them indefinitely? The brutal reality of the situation is that Western leadership do not recognise the three million Christian Pakistanis who live in constant fear of the growing intolerance and hostility against them, nor have they made the connection between the concentration of blasphemy accusations in the Punjab province, a region home to two million of Pakistan’s Christians.
Moreover, the fundamentalist 725 Madrassa schools of Pakistan have become an influential power supporting the blasphemy laws. Total Madrassa attendance stands at 1.5 million students. These religious schools are producing a particular world-view called Alem-e-kufr (the World of Infidels) whereby the concept of these religious schools is: “The world is divided into two antagonistic parts: the Islamic world, and the infidel world. With little common ground between them both, clash is eternal, natural and unavoidable, because the forces of evil and forces of good are predestined to be at war. The West is after us, they want to destroy Muslims, Islam and our culture.”
The general silence on Pakistani blasphemed Christians is excruciating, tacitly approving and allowing this barbaric behaviour to thrive. Given the circumstance, scores more of Christian couples, children and the elderly will continued to be smeared with this life-threatening penal code. A code that relishes in the spilling of non-Sunni blood. A law that holds no reverence for age. A law that takes away the concept of life before it is even born.
There is no end to the blasphemy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.