Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pakistan = Injustice?

Many have now heard that Pakistan was graced with it's first Oscar via uber talented Emmy winning Pakistani director Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, in collaboration with filmmaker Daniel Junge. The documentary that won sparked discussion all over the internet in the days since the 84th Annual Academy Awards aired this past Sunday (Febuary 26th, 2012).

Saving Face is about the breakdown of society that leads to vicious crime, specifically in this documentary the acid violence that leads to scarred Pakistani women. I've heard and seen many interviews of women who have had acid thrown on them, Christian/Hindu/Muslim whatever the case may be; it's disturbing. The pictures are disturbing, and you would have to be one seriously Godless human being to not want to give these women justice.

How is that possible? IS it possible?

"Social Issues" vs Minority Persecution: Does Pakistan Want to Disregard the Effects of Religion on Minorities' Status?

Life on the margins: Using the term ‘minority’ helps brush aside social issues, say speakers

Published: February 29, 2012

Speakers addressed issues of social, political and economic discrimination faced by minority women while discussing the social construct of the term “minority” during a report launch at Crown Plaza Hotel here on Tuesday.
Speakers addressed issues of social, political and economic discrimination faced by minority women while discussing the social construct of the term “minority” during a report launch at Crown Plaza Hotel here on Tuesday.
“It is a derogatory term because it discriminates between people on the basis of religion especially when a ‘minority’ is facing issues and a definitive clause and categorisation is needed in which to solve those problems,” Member of National Assembly (MNA) Asiya Nasir said while commenting on the term.

Pakistan People’s Party MNA Nafisa Shah elaborated, saying that the construct and affirmative action are closely tied together, adding that debate on one will naturally include the other. “While affirmative action is not a part of the constitution, protection of minorities is,” she said.

The report, “Life on the Margins”, is based on interviews with over 1,000 Hindu and Christian women from eight Punjab and 18 Sindh districts, and was prepared by the National Commission on Justice and Peace.
The research was led by Jennifer Jag Jivan and Peter Jacob in 2010-11, based on a baseline survey conducted in 26 districts of Punjab and Sindh (where 95% of the country’s minorities live).

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New book tells Asia Bibi's story from prison

New book tells Asia Bibi's story from prison

Lahore, Pakistan, Feb 27, 2012 / 04:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A new book on Asia Bibi's imprisonment and death sentence in Pakistan includes an unpublished letter she wrote to her husband and children urging them to have faith in God.

My children, don’t lose courage or faith in Jesus Christ,” Bibi says in her book, “get me out of here” released the week of Feb. 20.

Spanish publisher LibroLibres issued the new memoir, which was written by Bibi in her prison cell with the help of French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet.

Bibi’s case gained worldwide attention in 2010 when she was condemned to death for violating Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which state that anyone who offends Islam will be hanged. Critics say the country's blasphemy laws are often unjust and have become a tool for abusing religious minorities as well as vengeance between Muslims.

Bibi is still awaiting a ruling on the appeal of her death sentence and has been moved to an isolated cell without any windows, sink or toilet because of Muslim threats against her life.

In her letter to her family, Bibi movingly addresses her husband Ashiq and their five children while she awaited the granting of the appeal of her death sentence.

Ever since I have returned to by cell and have known that I am going to die, all my thoughts have turned to you, my beloved Ashiq, and to you, my beloved children. Nothing pains me more than to leave you alone in total anguish,” she said.

However, despite her fear, Bibi encouraged her family to keep alive their desire to be happy even though life is not always easy.

We are Christians and poor, but our family is a light...I still don’t know when they will hang me, but be at peace, my loves, I shall go with my head held high, without fear, because I will be in the company of Our Lord and the Virgin Mary, who will welcome me into their arms,” she said.

ooberfuse - His Blood Cries Out.

Many of you have, but some of you may not have heard the soon to be released song by British Christian band ooberfuse, written in memory of Shahbaz Bhatti. The band teamed with the British Pakistani Christian Association in creating an awesome visual presentation that emulates the emotions of many, especially these days with the upcoming First Anniversary of the death of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti. The song is to be played at a rally that BPCA will be holding in tribute to Shabaz, and as a protest for the continued and intensified persecution taking place against Christians in Pakistan.

I think it's awesome. I am so proud of my brothers and sisters in Christ for their creativity and vision. They've given new life to our mission to end persecution with their battle cry: HIS BLOOD CRIES OUT.

Thanks to Cherrie Anderson & Wilson Chowdhry for sending me the video, and to ooberfuse and BPCA for this song.

Take a look at this tribute here (lyrics posted below):

Voice of the Martyrs - New Blasphemy Case

Man charged with blasphemy in Pakistan

(Source: VOM-USA)

Christians in Pakistan continue to face charges of blasphemy.
Pray that they will be able to stand firm in their faith!
Dildar Yousaf, 28, was arrested and charged with blasphemy after defending his eight-year-old nephew who was being attacked by a group of Muslim boys last June. Dildar's nephew, Ehtasham, was passing by a "madrassa," a school where Islamic students study the Qur'an, when seven boys surrounded him and tried to force him to say, "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet." Ehtasham refused, and the boys began to verbally and physically assault him. Dildar happened by and pulled his nephew away and took him home.

A rumour then spread that Dildar had disgraced the Muslim proclamation of faith. Crowds gathered and began to demand his death. Police picked up Dildar from his workplace, put him in protective custody and charged him with blasphemy. This particular charge carries a potential three-year sentence with the possibility of parole, unlike other blasphemy charges in the country that can result in a death sentence.

Dildar's wife, Naseem, and their two children, as well as Ehtasham and his family, have all had to leave their village. VOM is supporting the family and providing legal assistance to Dildar. Dildar's village has a history of persecution. In the past, a Christian's house was burned, a pastor was killed, and another believer was charged with blasphemy.

Please pray that Dildar and Ehtasham's families will be able to safely return to their homes with God's protection. Please pray that the charges against Dildar will be dropped. Please pray that God will reach out to the seven young boys who attacked Ehtasham so that they will hear and heed His call.

Voice of the Martyrs - Request for Prayer

In the Febuary 23rd Persecution & Prayer Alert email from the Voice of the Martyrs Canada, I received a prayer request that I'm posting below for a Pastor and his Church/congregation in Pakistan:


Evangelist in Pakistan harassed and under attack

(Source: VOM-USA)
An evangelist supported by The Voice of the Martyrs in the Afghan-Pakistan border region says he is being harassed by a local Muslim leader and is also under attack by spiritual forces.

After some local Muslims attended a church service last Christmas, the evangelist received a letter warning him that his congregation was not respecting the Muslim call to prayer. Police have monitored the Christian man's activities, and the local mullah -- a Muslim man trained in religious law and doctrine -- has said the evangelist's Christian activities "must be stopped." The evangelist says the region has been difficult for mission workers in the past, and that he is impacted spiritually when he goes on prayer walks.

Please pray that God will grant supernatural strength to this brother and to his church. Pray that the Muslims who attended the Christmas church service will be fertile soil for the seeds that have been planted. Pray that the gospel will spread and flourish in this hostile area.

For more on the persecution of Pakistani Christians, go to the VOM Pakistan Country Report. To post a prayer of solidarity with this evangelist, please visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.

Monday, February 27, 2012

British Pakistani Christian Association: Murderer of Shahbaz Bhatti arrested by Interpol!

British Pakistani Christian Association: Murderer of Shahbaz Bhatti arrested by Interpol!: The blood stained car of Shahbaz Bhatti a poignant reminder of the malice directed towards Christians and other minorities!

Interpol has 190 member states and assist member countries in arresting escaped criminals that have fled abroad. It has been reported in Pakistan Today on Saturday 11th February that Interpol have received a letter from Islamabad Police for transport of the accused from Dubai to Islamabad. However the process has been delayed whilst the Interior Ministry headed by Rehman Malik (who has quite a bizarre but unconnected name link with the two accused), corresponds with the Ministry of law for it's opinion. It is intriguing that while common practice of sending request warrants to Interpol is through their local representative, in this case the request for warrants were sent directly by the Interior Ministry. However, considering the complications we have seen during this murder trial thus far, this bungling pales into insignificance.

Click the link to read more from the BPCA report.

Thanks to Ghazala Grace Webb for forwarding this story, and Wilson Chowdhry of BPCA for the breaking news.

Gojra Aftermath - Photoblog by Gary Chapman & Vivian Chapman

I thought I'd share this for any of you who haven't seen it, it's a photoblog by humanitarian photographer Gary Chapman and his wife Vivian Chapman (a writer and producer based in Atlanta). They went in the aftermath of the incident at Gojra to record through their experiences what the persecuted Christians in Pakistan were going through.

I love photography, looking through the eyes of the photographer is an intense experience for me. I see an almost indifferent dispair; there's a hardened sadness chiseled as though permanently into the faces of those he photographed. As though they're saying to us: "this is what life is for us.. this is inevitable".

But they have Jesus.

They still have Jesus and nothing can take that away. Why do you think Christians who are persecuted for being Christians in Pakistan are still that.. Christian. Try as they might, Jesus stays with us. 

Check out Gary Chapman's Blog here.

In August 2009, an angry mob of extremist Muslims torched Christian homes in Gojra, Pakistan. At least seven people were shot to death or burned alive.

A few days after the attacks, American photographer Gary S. Chapman visited the area with his wife, Vivian, to document the aftermath.

“I want people to see my images and feel both discomfort and compassion at the same time,” he said recently. “I want them to try and see themselves in the situation I am witnessing.”

The violence in Gojra was incited by rumors of the desecration of pages of the Quran at a Christian wedding, police said. An investigation determined the allegations were baseless.

Chapman’s photos from the village are part of an ongoing project he started in 2005. He was in Pakistan to photograph relief efforts after a massive earthquake killed 86,000 people when he began to hear about the mistreatment of the Christian minority.

Through an interpreter, he learned about instances of rape, the lack of job and education opportunities, and people being beaten for drinking from the same water fountain as Muslims.

At large gatherings, the Christians would sometimes hire armed guards for protection. Despite their hardships, Chapman says many remain optimistic.

"I have been encouraged by the Christians of Pakistan that remain faithful, forever hopeful in the midst of real persecution," he said.

He has been to Pakistan four times now. During one trip, he visited a woman who had taken in several Christian children orphaned by the earthquake. Shortly after he left, an arsonist set fire to her home.

“Fortunately no one was hurt in the attack,” Chapman said. “But I had to ask myself if our presence there caused the attack. Was it a reprisal?”

Hoping to avoid bringing harm to the people who open up to him, he photographs many of his subjects in a way that obscures their faces. He also wears traditional Pakistani clothing and grows a long beard in order to fit in.

“After seeing the injustices in Pakistan, I’ve learned not to take my freedom for granted concerning my faith, livelihood, or even where I live,” Chapman said. “I am thankful for everything.”

– Brett Roegiers, CNN

Here are the pictures:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

"I am happy that for once the matter was sorted out peacefully."

Amazing how even in the midst of good news there is a constant undertone of misery. Faced with a daily bombardment of distress calls, those that reach out to assist minorities are constantly seeking a "happy-ending" knowing that in the majority of cases it will not be possible. Thankfully our God is a God of impossibilities, so keep praying church! Thank God for this man and his family and their future.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11


» 02/24/2012 15:10


NCJP frees Christian man held in slave-like conditions by rich Muslim
by Shafique Khokhar

NCJP activists successfully obtain the release of Qamar Masih, 25, father of two, who was abducted over an unpaid debt by a landowner for whom he used to work in "slave-like conditions". A priest in Faisalabad is happy about the outcome, blames such incidents on the country's "feudal system".
Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - A rich Muslim landowner abducted a Christian man in Faisalabad for failure to repay a debt he had contracted and not repaid whilst working for him. Sources close to the Christian man's family said the latter left the job tired of being exploited and abused for a pittance. Only the intervention of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Church of Pakistan led to the man's release and a peaceful resolution of the issue. However, the case highlights the fact that Pakistan's "feudal system" forces "poor workers into slave-like conditions".

Today, Qamar Masih, also known as Bhola 35, a Christian father two from Malkhanwala in Faisalabad, is back at work at a cattle feed shop owned by a Muslim where he earns 7,500 rupees (US$ 88) a month, a salary that allows him to make a decent living for himself and his family.

However, just this Wednesday, his former employer, Bilal Sarwar Cheema, a rich landowner connected with Punjab's land mafia, had him abducted by a group of armed men. He was kidnapped because he had not repaid a loan (20,000 rupees) the rich Muslim landowner had granted to him last year.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Memorial for Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti - March 2nd, 2012

"Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.'" - Matt 16:24-25

ICV invites you to join in remembering the life and sacrifice of: 

Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti
on the First Anniversary of his death.

You will be joining government officials, dignitaries, human rights organizations, church clergy, and leaders from various communities, on March 2nd at 6pm, at Woodbine Banquet & Convention Center. Please be advised that this event is by invitation only, so please comment below or send an email to acquire your tickets and reserve your seat.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Face-coverings banned during citizenship ceremonies in Canada.

Here's the link.

The "western world" is waking up: becoming a Canadian doesn't mean letting go of the values you inherit from your birth countries, but embracing the values that Canada holds. It's about time that people realize the importance of that difference. Besides.. who are you hiding from here? We have a proper justice system.. no one will bite.

"Minister Kenney answers a question from MP Lizon during QP on the decision to ban face coverings from being worn while taking the citizenship oath"

Immigration changes being made to assist the persecuted..

Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney is seen here describing the idea behind new immigration legislation that would assist victims of persecution in immigrating to Canada more quickly by preventing immigration/refugee fraud. We've all seen fraud happen, but it's about time our government takes swift action against those that commit fraud and plug up our system preventing REAL victims and those that immigrate here legally from getting through.

Thank God for Minister Kenney, and our Conservative Canadian Government!

Click here for the video.

"Minister Kenney responds to a question from MP Menagakis on new legislation aimed at protecting Canada's immigration system from those who seek to abuse Canada's generosity, including human smugglers, foreign criminals, and bogus refugees. The new legislation seeks to ensure that the system remains unclogged for bona fide victims of persecution."

And here he is answering a question regarding bogus refugee claims..

"Minister Kenney answers a question during QP from MP Lizon on unfounded refugee claims coming from democratic states within the European Union"

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The ICV Youth Pay Tribute to Shahbaz Bhatti

Often remembering our heroes, we forget to remember they were men. They had families, friends, relationships with others in this world. The personal nature of their sacrifices get lost in the hustle bustle of politics and lessons learned. But like the rest, Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti was just that, a man whose presence was a loss to his community but to his family and loves ones as well. This is the personal side to the persecution that he faced, and his assassination.

Bravo to the ICV Youth for capturing their emotions and bearing it all so that others might learn from it, and be aware of his life and sacrifice.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

ICV Hosts Meet and Greet Event with Dr. Paul Bhatti and Pakistani MPAs‏

Press Release - Revised

Feb 10, 2012

ICV Hosts Meet and Greet Event with Dr. Paul Bhatti and Pakistani MPAs‏

International Christian Voice Canada is pleased to report the success of their Meet and Greet event held on February 4th, 2012 for the visiting delegation of MPAs and Leaders of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) led by Dr. Paul Bhatti, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The event was held at 7pm at the Canadian Coptic’s Center in Mississauga, and was well attended by approximately 350 members of the Pakistani Christian community from both Canada and the United States; including pastors and church leaders, leaders of various community organizations such as the CCA, CCASA Toronto Chapter, and representatives from both ICV Buffalo and the newly created ICV Winnipeg chapters. Other people of importance attending the event included MP Wladyslaw Lizon; representatives from MP John Carmichael’s office; Mark Dotzert, National Councilor Conservative Party of Canada; and Lesley-Anne Leighton an NGO working in Pakistan with Diadem International and the Shahbaz Bhatti Trust.

The APMA delegation led by Dr. Paul Bhatti, Chairman; included: APMA Coordinator for Punjab Mr. Khalid Gill, Punjab MPA Mr. Tahir Naveed Chaudhary, Balochistan MPA and Minister Mr. Jaffer George, Sindh MPA Mr. Saleem Khokhar and APMA Coordinator for Islamabad-Rawalpindi Region Mr. Manzoor Khan Ghori.

From the United States, attendees included Mrs. Alfreda Gill (Vice President Pakistani American Christian Coalition); Ernest Gulab (President Pakistani American Christian Coalition); Mazoor Alam (Chairman Pakistani American Christian Coalition); Samson Johnson, Anwar Sadique (Executive Member Pakistani American Christian Coalition); Waseem Sohail, Justin Pervez and Victor Gill (Phidelephia). Rana Umar Hayat President and Imdad Khan represented ICV Winnipeg Chapter. A large group from the ICV Buffalo Chapter delegation led by Mrs. Samuel Siraj also attended the event.

The evening was brilliantly hosted by Mr. Vincent Samuel, who moved things along with ease; beginning with an opening prayer by Mr. Khalid Gill, and the singing of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti’s favourite Psalm #9 “Daim Yahova Ya Rabb”; led by Mr. Khalid Gill, Mr. Vincent Samuel, Mr. Nadeem Akhtar & Mrs. Phoebe Samuel. Pervez Masih President ICV started the evenings speeches with a welcoming opening address. He spoke about his relationship with Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti and the cause for which the event was being held.

Mr. Manzoor Khan Ghori introduced the gathered audience to APMA and revealed some of their vision and strategies. Mr Khalid Gill next took to the stage in the night’s most memorable speech: he led the audience in cheers for the APMA’s “Quaid-e-Tehreeq” Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti – and inspired everyone with his ache for the persecuted. APMA delegates Mr. Tahir Naveed, Mr. Jaffer George, and Mr. Saleem Khokhar all spoke about rallying together behind their elected leader, Dr. Paul Bhatti; and pleaded with the audience to unite as one Christian community. APMA Chairman Dr. Paul Bhatti, in an eloquent and succinct address, highlighted the issues facing the Christian minority in Pakistan and urged the Canadian Pakistani Christian Community to work together for the development of the persecuted minorities in Pakistan by supporting APMA in their efforts. Dr. Bhatti thanked the community for being wonderful hosts to their delegation.

What Happens When Bhangra Artists Become Scholars & I (sadly) Become the Only Voice of Reason (My Tribute to the "Argument" I Had With HDhami)


Isn't it incredible how in today's media driven culture how often we see entertainers in the guise of politicians/religious scholars/teachers. For anyone who knows me I was a BIG fan of HDhami at one point, I enjoyed his music, thought of him as a very talented individual... and he still may be all that. But for me I now also see him as someone who uses his "pulpit" as a Bhangra singer, to propagandize his personal beliefs. So first of all, far be it for me to call Mr. Dhami, or any celebrity that chooses to bring their personal opinions to the forefront ignorant, I think it's great! It really helps me decide who I should be looking up to. But here's my problem with him, and SO MANY other people in entertainment these days, they feel the need to "protect" certain populations as though they are being constantly victimized - in this case Islam - and the easiest way that most of these people see fit to do this is unfortunately at the cost of Christianity.

Hartinder Dhami as a Sikh man, I doubt would want to discuss the merits of his own religion with any Muslim. He did however see fit to post one of the infamous Ahmed Deedat "debates" from YouTube on his Facebook account. Why? To show his fans how women in Islam are far from oppressed. In fact... it's the rest of us that are oppressed (I mean women in Western culture, and specifically Christian women).

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dinner With APMA - Feb 2nd, 2012

This past week we were honored to host a dinner at our home for ICV and the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) visiting from Pakistan. It was a rare privilege to be able to sit together and “pick” each other’s minds regarding the issues that Pakistani Christians in Pakistan and Canada face today, and how we can all come together to overcome those issues.

Attending on behalf of the ICV were:
  • Mr. & Mrs. Peter Bhatti
  • Nitasha Bhatti
  • Mr. Obeid Newton
  • Mr. Reuben & Mrs. Eliza Charles
  • Mr. Ashleigh Francis
  • Mr. Bosco Martyres
  • Mr. & Mrs. Asher Khokhar
  • Mrs. Jacqueline Jacob
APMA Executives present were:
  • Mr. Khalid Gill; Chief Coordinator for APMA, Punjab
  • Mr. Jaffer George; MPA Baluchistan Provincial Assembley and Member Central Executive Committee APMA 
  • Mr. Tahir Naveed; MPA Punjab Provincial Assembley and Member Central Executive Committee APMA 
  • Mr. Manzoor Khan Ghori; Coordinator for APMA, Rawalpindi-Islamabad Region
Also in attendance were our family friends Mr. Emmanuel Gill, and Mr. Rafique Masih with his son Nabeel Masih.

Together the APMA team took time to explain their goals, their vision, and their passion for the persecuted people of Pakistan. I learned that at the time of the creation of Pakistan, as Mr. Khalid Gill put it “Not when my grandfathers signed Pakistan into its being was it known as an Islamic Republic, but a nation free of religious obligation. Where people could practice freely, such was the vision of Quaid-e-Azam.” An interesting thought. It’s been repeated over and over by many, especially in this past year after the assassination of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti...

Where did we go wrong?

As many of you present at the ICV community “Meet-and-Greet” event are aware of, the APMA delegation were adamant in bringing awareness to all that heard them that the only way to effectively accomplish the goals (such as the repeal of blasphemy law) was to unite together. This was the main topic in the evenings discussions at my home as well. An awesome moment was when Mr. Khalid Gill insisted that it would be better not to give anything at all with a heavy heart, but to pray wholeheartedly for the people involved in fighting against persecution; "to pray for those that are persecuted" he said, "is more valuable than any donation".

What’s the most common statement I heard that night?
Do what you can, whatever you can. But as a community we must STOP opposing each other. By creating an environment where no one is able to accomplish anything we do nothing to each other here in Canada, but for the persecuted families – OUR families, in Pakistan, it’s a deadly circle of hate that they cannot overcome on their own.

At the end of the night Nitasha and I were able to add our two cents to the discussion as well. It’s nice to see that our elders have noted the importance of filling younger generations with a heart for Pakistan. Leadership begins at home, without instilling those values in our kids they will never be able to go out into the world of politics/community and be effective leaders. Teach your kids to seek God first, and then realize that He provides the opportunities where we can really do and be our best... going backwards (opportunity then God) never works out quite as well.

More pictures and information coming soon.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

ICV Grows: The next Generation & The next Step!

Congratulations ICV Buffalo!

Months ago in a one-on-one meeting with ICV chair Mr. Peter Bhatti, he spoke passionately about the vision that his late brother Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti held for the International Christian Voice. It's all about unity, about gathering many voices to share in one common goal all around the world: to stop the religious and political persecution of the Christian minority in Pakistan. The end of 2011 brought one of the first steps by Mr. Peter Bhatti towards the fruition of this vision: with the opening of the first US chapter of ICV in Buffalo, NY.

Mr. Bhatti and his team went from Ontario, Canada to join the Buffalo chapter during their inaugural chapter meeting. Participants from Canada stated that they were very impressed with the outcomes of the meeting and are looking forward to seeing what the ICV US counterpart will have to bring to the table with regards to ICV goals.