Christmas became a time of protest and fury for Christians in India and Pakistan after a TV hosts plus guests decided to ridicule Christianity.
In India celebrities Farah Khan, Raveena Tandon and Bharti Singh were booked by Amritsar police for “hurting religious sentiments” after Indian Christians
led by Sonu Jafar, president of the Christian Front of Ajnala Block. He proposed an investigation under the Indian blasphemy laws section 295-A of
the Indian Penal code, after mocking the word “Hallelujah” on a TV show took place in India on Christmas Eve.
Section 295A of The Indian Penal Code:
272 [295A. Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.—Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of 273 [citizens of India], 274 [by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 4 [four years], or with fine, or with both.]
The crux of the offence was when studio game show guests, led by Director/Choreographer Farah Khan, were asked to spell the word “Hallelujah”. Bollywood
actress Raveena Tandon and comedian Bharti Singh were given 45 seconds to complete the task and although Ms Tandon got the spelling right and received
10 marks, Ms Singh was completely off the mark.
During a discussion about the spelling error, Ms Singh made a play on her spelling mistake by explaining that pronunciations of words in Punjabi made spelling
different. This brought about laughter especially when she thickened her Punjabi accent. However, when asked by Ms Khan what the word meant, she said the
word was a derogatory, if not sleazy word, that should not be mentioned on a family show and inferred it was a term used by newly-wed couples giving her
mispronounced utterance a very sexual connotation. At this point Ms Tandon decided to gyrate her hips in support of Ms Singh.
Ms Khan did make sure the correct translation was provided but then joined Ms Singh in a further base level discussion that included a phrase suggesting
the three celebrities would go back to their homes later and “hele luya”, (a term that to her seemed to describe the movement of a male sexual organ).
Ms Khan felt that the translation given by Ms Singh warranted 5 points.
Later all three of the participants issued very honest apologies through mainstream media and their personal Twitter accounts which assuaged the quite
virulent anger manifested throughout the global Asian Christian community.
In Pakistan, Christians were horrified by words TV anchor and journalist Mubasher Lucman gave on his Christmas Eve video recording on YouTube entitled
“is Christmas a myth or reality?”.
Though BACA did not find anything he said particularly offensive, we realise the timing of the video and misunderstandings of what was being said certainly
raised significant ire in the Christian community who held protests, ran petitions and pursued blasphemy charges against Mubasher Lucman.
Christians from across Pakistan created videos in which they condemned Mr Lucman and shared videos containing their form of Christian Apologetics.
An interesting article on the matter that shared some of the animosity among Pakistani Christians can be read (here)
Of course, the glib tone of Mr Lucman did nothing to help the situation and with intent to rile Christians, he voiced an obvious error in stating that
Christianity was a faith that began 100 years after Christ. Totally ignoring the day of Pentecost when 3000 people gave their life to Christ, following
a sermon by the Apostle Peter at the temple in Jerusalem.
After several calls for his death, protesting and online abuse, Mr Lucman followed up with a sheepish apology. We don't believe for one minute that he
was genuine as he did seem to grin through-out.
Then again, he did not really say anything blasphemous and though his poorly timed video was designed to mock Christians, it was neither deserving of death
threats nor attempts by Christians to have him investigated for a blasphemy under the nation’s draconian laws.
What is most concerning for BACA is the manner of some of the protestations by Christians and the widespread naivety regarding the history of Christmas
as a celebration.
We asked brother Leighton, a BACA missionary who has been commissioned to work on improving the somewhat out of kilter doctrine that is often taught in
Pakistan, to prepare a response Lucman's strange rant about Christmas and his response can be heard in this video:
Leighton will be travelling to Pakistan in February to recommence the outreach work he started with BACA over the last three years.
We hope to raise enough funds over the course of this year to fund a permanent role for him as a missionary for a period of 3 years.
We believe his work is essential in helping to steer Christian church doctrine away from its current legalistic form to one that focuses on faith and redemption.