Our vision is to create a network of Pakistanis united in Christ, focused on better quality of life, fellowship and religious freedom for Christians in Pakistan and the UK.
by Joy Hancock
The congregation of Jerusalem Church, Karachi is being threatened with false blasphemy charges by Muslims who wish to seize the church's land. Jerusalem Church is reported by the Christian Post as being a Pentecostal church of around 300 families strong. The members have told International Christian Concern that they have even received death threats from a group of armed Muslims who are well known for seizing church property from poor congregations, and have carried out targeted killings.
The church was built in the 1990s and according to John Nazareth Adil, a local social activist, the Muslim group wants the land for their own agenda, as reported to International Christian Concern. So far the members of the congregation have stood firm:
"The Christians of the locality have responded in a brave manner and announced that they will die before they let them grab the church property," said Pastor Ilyas Masih.
Masih told The Christian Post:
"These Muslims have been pressuring the church people not to play musical instruments and asked the church leaders to stop girls from singing with boys in the church."
"Several times they stopped and threatened the worshippers and pastors for going into church for prayers and harassed the women in the past."
The church has asked for extra protection from the local police, but the threats have continued.
There have been many recent instances of false blasphemy charges in Pakistan and such charges often end in death for the accused without the case ever coming to court. Last autumn, a Christian young couple were put to death by being beaten then burned alive in the brick kiln where they worked after being accused of burning pages from the Quran.
The congregation is calling for international support and one church member is recorded by CNN as saying:
"A Christian's life, worship places, and properties have no weight; therefore, the international community must take notice of these cases and put pressure on the authorities to ensure the dignity, rights, and protection of Christians in this country."
CNN reminds us that in March 2013, an entire neighbourhood was razed to the ground after a local believer was accused of blasphemy. Allegations of blasphemy are frequently used to target Christians, stemming often from pure spite because they are simply not tolerated by their Muslim neighbours who view them as unclean and worshippers of a false god.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, when questioned by Christian Post said:
"Yet again a church in Pakistan faces harassment of its women and threats about how and when church services and worship should be conducted, A similar treatment of a church in Badami Bagh in 2011 resulted in a local contract between Muslims and Christians, in which churches were restricted on the times they could have their services and agreed not to speak of God on the streets, as it was offensive to Muslims."
"Karachi is known for its lawlessness and Christian men often lose their lives in extra-judicial killings," Chowdhry stated. "In 2014, Boota Masih, a Christian jeweller, had his throat slit in public after a jealous Muslim accused him of blasphemy. The family was prevented from taking legal action after receiving threats from the relatives of the murderer."
Mr Chowdhry explained that most Christians who flee Pakistan do so because of religious persecution and many end up in Malaysia, Sri Lanka or Thailand, due to simple protocol and low costs for tourism visa, as these nations depend on tourism to bolster their economy. Each country has a population of about 10,000 Pakistani asylum seekers.
"But in most cases, those seeking refugee status in those countries are not recognized as refugees and are often arrested and fined and have become a group defined as the re-persecuted because of the nature of their treatment," he said.
"This treatment of Pakistani Christians is not unlike the treatment of Armenian Christians, who later faced the awful extermination during the Armenian Genocide as quoted by Lemkin. Just like Turkey before them, Pakistan denies that Christians face brutality, persecution and hatred, and Britain, as a nation, due to vested interests, remains shockingly silent."
"I hope we do not see a repeat of the mass killings faced by our Armenian brothers and fully understand why Christians in their droves are fleeing Pakistan despite being re-persecuted in other nations such as Thailand, where there is said to be 10,000 Pak-Christian refugees. It is time the world listened to the stories that the victims are desperate for humanitarians to hear."
The Armenian Genocide was commemorated 100 years on this year. To date Turkey denies the genocide took place.
Who will "stand in the gap" for these brothers and sisters in the Lord?
(Read the Christian Post article:Click here)