Wednesday, January 9, 2013

PC Exclusive: We speak with MP David Sweet @ the James 2:8 Benefit

It was really great to have a couple of the best Member Parliaments our government has with us at our benefit. MP David Sweet (Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale) and MP Harold Albrecht (Kitchener-Conestoga) honoured us with their presence and support last November. We had the opportunity to speak with MP Sweet regarding some of the steps that Canada's federal government is taking to support persecuted religious minorities around the world.

Here is part of the interview transcript:

Phoebe Samuel: We are so honoured to have you here, and I would like to ask you -- how can the Canadian government help endeavors like Love Thy Neighbour International's-- to help the persecuted and marginalized Christians in Pakistan?

MP Sweet: In Pakistan and really there's Christian minorities all over the world that are being persecuted --so there's a lot of ways that the Canadian government can help and individual parliamentarians like myself  can help. One of them obviously is through CIDA and through the grants that we give through CIDA to non-governmental organizations that have specific qualifications. One of the ways is through the new Office of Religious Freedom to make sure that we're speaking out and that people know exactly how we feel --that we continually tell them --that human rights need to be an important part of the agenda of every government-- and they need to, no matter what the situation is they need to continue to get better at that and of course human rights and religious freedom go hand in hand. And individual parliamentarians like myself --I sit on the sub-committee for human rights, and we continue to look at countries who are human rights abusers and try to do what we can to speak out and let them know that other countries are watching and that they should get their house in order.

Phoebe Samuel: I'm glad that this government is making a clear effort, specifically with the idea of the Office of Religious Freedom. We have been hearing about it for nearly two years now, I hope it will come to fruition.

MP Sweet: Oh it'll come to fruition, I think that starting a new Office of any kind is significant --not only do we want to have the right person who is involved as the Ambassador or whatever the title is going to be; but also make sure that the Office is structured appropriately so it can be effective. When you do something new you want to do it right the first time out, and so I think the extra time is a caution that's needed to make sure that we build it in a way that's going to be sustainable and going to make it have the impact that we want it to have as well.

Phoebe Samuel: We are proud of our Prime Minister--

MP Sweet: So am I!

Phoebe Samuel: --and our Conservative government; that they really have a heart to help those that are being persecuted all over the world from any religion, and we really thank you for all these things and more --for standing up for Israel, for standing against violence.
MP Sweet: Well thank you, and yes you are right there are religious minorities all over the world that are being persecuted but the ones that are at the top --with the most numbers are the Christian minorities.

Phoebe Samuel: Absolutely, we agree with you 100%. So as Christians we need to support those people.

Rescuing Christians --For Real.

NOTE: I felt this was a really important article to share with you all because I myself have had to contact this group a couple of times for families that I felt were beyond my scope of support from afar. They are extremely vigilant and quick to contact victims and investigate any needs that people might have --a real group of heroes I'd say. 

By Michael Carl, 12-13-2012

An American ministry organization has created what amounts to a special operations team to work with a group in Pakistan to rescue Pakistani Christians who are unjustly charged under that longtime ally’s draconian blasphemy law.

The group Rescue Christians is the brainchild of former PLO terrorist-turned-Christian activist Walid Shoebat.

Shoebat says the organization established what is called the Raoul Wallenberg Project, named after the man who rescued Hungarian Jews from the Nazis during World War II.

The website for the organization says the project is being undertaken because of the extreme need among the world’s Christians.

“Seventy-five percent of religious persecution in the world is against Christians as per a report by Church in Need, a Christian organization based in the UK,” supporters explained.

“They examined 33 countries, citing that most of that persecution today is taking place in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

“The proportion of countries with a worsening track record of anti-Christian violence and intimidation would be higher were it not for the fact that in many cases the situation could scarcely have been worse in the first place,” the group says.

Pakistan is the project’s main focus for now.

“The blasphemy laws … are used by Islamic extremists to make up charges against innocent Christians, in order to steal their property and stir up violence against the Christian population,” supporters said.

“On March 4 the Christian Minister of Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was gunned down by Islamic extremists, causing tremendous fear within the Christian community. Even in the short time since his murder, the violence against Christians has increased dramatically,” they said.

“The Raoul Wallenberg Project is working with people on the ground who are well connected in the Christian community. They have reached out to us for our support to help alleviate their suffering, and in certain situations, help with their escape.”

The security and safety of the persons involved are necessary concerns.

“For their protection we cannot expose their names publicly. In the future, large donors who are concerned about the transparency of funding, we can provide the names and details privately,” the website said.

Rescue Christians Executive Director Keith Davies says his group is undertaking the project because hands-on assistance is necessary.

“We’re raising money in the states to help pay for safe houses wherever these things are happening, in Islamabad, Karachi, and other places. We actually go there and get people who are in emergency situations and make the contacts,” Davies said.

To this end, Davies says the project has been successful.

“We saved over 100 people last year,” Davies said.

The Pakistani unit of Rescue Christians has a staff of 38 people. The leader of the group in Pakistan, who asked that his name be withheld for security reasons, says his group shelters those who have been victimized by the blasphemy law.

” We are working to help those who suffer from persecution and discrimination. And it’s mostly because of Pakistan’s blasphemy law,” the Pakistani project leader said.

“We go and help the Christians if they are in trouble. We rescue them by filing cases. We rescue them and we relocate them to a safe place,” he said. “First we try to get them out of court with a lawyer. Then with the family we take them from their area to some safe place where they can be safe.”

Sometimes it’s necessary to try to get the one charged with blasphemy and the family members out of the country. However, the project leader says that’s been difficult.

“We have talked to the U. S. government and the Italian government to try to get visas for these people to get them out of the country so they can start a new life,” he said. “We talked to the American and the Italian ambassadors and neither country has helped. The American embassy has been no help at all.”

He reported, “There were two stories, a 16-year-old boy and a 22-year-old young man. The 16-year-old boy was had not even been arrested but he had to go into hiding because he had been accused of blasphemy. The 22-year-old young man was killed and could not be rescued. We contacted over 500 officials for these two and we got no help.”

He said Americans could contact their government to push for help for those who are endangered.
International Christian Concern President Jeff King applauds Rescue Christians’ work saying, “The more help the better.”

King says ICC assists Christians in the restricted and hostile areas, but tries not to draw attention to the projects. One such project he says was helping a family where the father has been in jail for seven years on a blasphemy charge.

“He and has wife have several children and they were living in a squalor,” King said. He said some of the assistance was aimed at helping the family with their daily needs.

“We set her up in a business, helping her start a Pakistani version of a convenience store. We also put her kids in school, which is something she couldn’t do,” King said.

King adds that political advocacy is also a part of ICC’s work.

“We were also up on Capitol Hill recently advocating for that man and his family. We visited 28 offices and now congressmen and senators are contacting the Pakistani government asking for answers. They’re pressing the Pakistani government to explain why that man has been in prison for so long,” King said.

“One of those officials has set up a conference call to the Pakistani embassy to ask them what they’re doing about the man in jail,” King said.

Then there are the young women, targets of abuse in Pakistan.

“Christian girls in Pakistan are especially vulnerable to attacks. They’re abused and often raped. We just set them up with sewing machines to help them learn a trade so they can provide for themselves,” King said.

Voice of the Martyrs Media Relations Director Todd Nettleton says his organization is on the ground in some of the toughest countries around the world.

“This year we had over 900 projects in hostile and restricted nations. We assist and stand by persecuted Christians,” Nettleton said.

“We also provide food, shelter and safe houses for people who have been attacked and are living in emergency situations,” Nettleton said. “We stand by those Christians who choose to stay in their dangerous situation because they believe that’s where they can best represent Christ.”

Davies says Rescue Christians’ goal is to expand operations into other countries such as Egypt, possibly the Sudan, Syria, and any other country that is heavily engaged in Christian persecution.
“We want to get in there on the ground in those countries as well and we’ll be there as soon as we find the right people to serve in that capacity,” Davies said.

PC Exclusive: Michael Coren @ LTNI's James 2:8 Benefit - November 30, 2012

Michael's speech was no doubt controversial, no doubt brutally honest --and no doubt VERY necessary. It's time Canada stops hiding their heads in the sand like a bunch of pathetic ostriches.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jason Kenney: Apparently the Most Courageous Man in Canada


Sometimes silence isn’t so much golden as deadly. Just ask Christians living in the troubled Middle East.
Their world will be a very dangerous place in 2013 as believers face being wiped out of their “biblical heartlands” because of mounting persecution by militant Islam, according to a new report by the U.K. think tank Civitas.
It warns that Christians suffer greater hostility in the Middle East than any other religious group on the planet while the world wilfully ignores their plight.
And it claims the clear majority of politicians have been “blind” to the extent of violence faced by Christians there as well as Africa and Asia, although Canada provides the honourable exceptions to the rule.
Put simply, modern Christianity is a persecuted, not persecuting, religion.
The report, titled Christianophobia, was written by journalist and Blackfriars Hall, Oxford visiting fellow Rupert Shortt.
He says that oppression in Muslim countries is often ignored and left unremarked because of fears that any criticism will be denounced as “racism”.
Shortt warns that converts from Islam face being killed in Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Iran on a daily basis and risk severe penalties in other countries like Nigeria for the simple act of following their chosen faith.
Local opponents, for example, deem Christian churches and their worshippers in places as far apart as Indonesia and Egypt, as fair targets.
“Exposing and combating the problem ought in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world,” Shortt wrote. “That this is not the case tells us much about a questionable hierarchy of victimhood.
“The blind spot displayed by governments and other influential players is causing them to squander a broader opportunity. Religious freedom is the canary in the mine for human rights generally.”
Shortt’s report surveys in detail the extent of Christian persecution in seven countries — Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, Burma, China and India.
The “lion’s share” of persecution faced by Christians arises in those countries with Islam as the dominant faith, the report says. It cites estimates that between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left the region or been killed in the past century.
“There is now a serious risk that Christianity will disappear from its biblical heartlands,” Shortt claims before offering Iraq as an example.
In 1990 there were between 1.2 to 1.4 million Christians in Iraq. By 2003, there were only around half a million. Today there are less than 200,000.
Canada’s immigration minister, Jason Kenney, agrees that it is better to speak than remain silent. He is one of the few politicians with a voice on the world stage willing to address the matter of Christian persecution, despite the fact that saying it has become an almost defiant, politically incorrect act in itself.
In April 2012, he noted a disturbing global trend that blames the actions of Christians in the past for the present persecution.
“In our tolerant society, too many are saying that Christians are getting what’s coming to them,” Kenney said. “This is a new form of blood libel. It must be repudiated at every opportunity. There are more Christians persecuted around the world than any other group by orders of magnitude.”
In November, Kenney personally attended the Enthronement of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, now the 118th Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and spoke of the troubles faced by Christians in the region.
“This enthronement... occurs in a much-changed world since the last. Coptic Christians, the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, have recently been victims of escalating persecution and violence. Pope Tawadros now takes on the responsibility of guiding and protecting the Coptic Church in the midst of these difficulties,” Kenney said.
Nader Fawzy for one applauds Canada’s often-lone voice in speaking up for persecuted Christians. He personally knows what his fellow believers face on an almost daily basis.
The Cairo-born Toronto resident is one of seven Egyptian Coptic Christians sentenced to death in absentia last November for their alleged part in making an anti-Islam film that sparked uproar across the Muslim world.
The father of three first learned in September that the Egyptian government held him partly responsible for the video lampooning the Prophet Mohammed.
Fawzy denies the charge and says his only crime is to be a Christian critic of what he calls the “corrupt, lawless rulers of Egypt.”
“Canada is renowned around the world for its fairness and providing sanctuary to people from oppressed countries,” Fawzy said. “I think it shows good leadership by Canada to speak against those who would kill Christians, no matter who is upset in the process.
“Silence is not an option when it comes to saving lives.”

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Fresh Wounds of Christmastime in Pakistan

Police has not arrested Muslim attackers but twisting incident in communal riots.


ISLAMABAD: Christmas traditionally means carol singing, new clothes, and celebrations; unfortunately for Pakistani Christians things have become much more difficult since the blasphemy laws are hanging like a sward on the neck. Its misused is clearly seen in Rimsha’s case in Islamabad. Christians living in the same neighborhood say they are facing a bleak and joyless Christmas, crushed b poverty and harassed by Muslims.

It’s not far away, in Iqbal Town, Islamabad (few miles away on Islamabad Express way), Muslim mob attacked Christians going for Christmas service on Christmas day.

It was daylight, in Iqbal Town, Islamabad, on December 25, 2012, when Christian worshipers were coming out of churches after performing Christmas prayers, Muslim extremists equipped with automatic rifles, pistols and sticks attacked the Christian women, children and men.

Asharaf Masih, when running to save his life was hit with bullet in his leg, Iqbal Masih received bullet injuries in his leg and arm, Shahzad Masih was injured fell on the ground and was beaten with iron rod mercilessly by mob, Yousaf Masif was seriously injured while many others women, men and children received injuries.

The mob broke their gates and entered into their houses and was firing for an hour. The Christian locked their houses and saved their life, when police arrived. The police arrived on scene to maintain law and order and arrested two men name Mohammad Khalid and Riasat Satti and sent injured Christians for medico-legal in hospital. 

The case under Section 452, 109, 324,148,149 PPC was registered in First Information Report (FIR) number 669/2012, in Shahzad Town PS against 25 unknown and 4 nominated Muslim attackers but police released one nominated arrested accused Mohammad Riasat Satti same evening of December 25, 2012 and rest of them are wondering in the same streets. This is alarming situation for the Christian residents.
The tension was high all over Pakistan and special security arrangements were adopted by government after a religious decree of one Muslim cleric against celebrations of Christmas and participation of Muslims in it.

Pakistani Christian so called political leadership, National Harmony Minister Dr. Paul Bhatti and State Minister Akram Gill were also busy in photo shoots with high ranking officials and Shahzad Town Police Station officials are not arresting Muslim attackers but twisting incident in communal riots. None of them has reached to these Christians so far.

We reached there to negotiate with administration to stress on the arrest the rest of the attackers, remove blockades and security of life from further attacks of Muslim mob.

The news of this attack on Christians on Christmas Day was intentionally blocked by media and administration of capital city Islamabad.