Image of Gujrat
Hate spilled onto the streets after a large evangelical conference was organised in the city of Gujrat for August 15th. The conference had been organised by Pastor Aftab Gill, son of Pastor Fazal Gill (RIP). The angst was in reaction to the use of the title Rasool after the name of the late Pastor Fazal Gill, who was known for this particular gifting. Banners and posters stating this title and promoting the event were affixed to walls across the town in prominent locations to promote the event. The text on the banner said:
"Pastor Fazal Masih Gill late who was given an award of prophet (Rasool) according to Bible."
An offended local Muslim man, Umar Butt, questioned how a common man - and a Christian in particular - could be deemed worthy enough of the title prophet. He expressed great anger at the use of the word prophet, believing Muhammed to be the last and final prophet. He had an altercation with the organisers and instead of agreeing an amicable arrangement, decided to take a Mufti (Islamic jurist) and a local TV reporter for Royal Channel named Iftikhar to the local police station at Model Town. The clamour for a blasphemy accusation led to the usual police cave in and support for an FIR for blasphemy under section 295C, resulting in the arrest of Pastor Aftab and several other men whose names were also listed on the banners and pamphlets.
One of the worried brothers called the BPCA and we are aware of his place of hiding and hope to support him through this difficult period. It will take a large amount of money however to provide him, his wife and three children with housing and the support required to protect them from the hate mob seeking them. Christians within the local community have already shut their homes and moved to other areas fearing a reprisal attack from the usual Muslim mob that gathers after any inkling of a blasphemy attack.
We are calling for immediate prayers from Christians across the globe, as we expect homes will be looted but do not want this to escalate to the typical burning down of homes of innocent Christians.
We call upon the Government of Pakistan to organise a decent level of protection for these families. Security forces need to gather in number and offer real assurances for protection, any repeat of the usual cowing to pressure and requests for families to flee for their own safety will serve only to reinforce the global perception that Pakistan's government is insouciant to the concerns of minority Christians, pampering to Muslim extremists for protracted instability with intent to obtain further large foreign aid budgets. This will simply not be good enough and we ask for the governments in the west to pressure Pakistan to protect all it's citizens with equity and fairness.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCa, said:
"The Quality of life for Christians in Pakistan has reached it's lowest ebb. That a Community could be attacked and dozens arrested for using the title prophet which would be legitimized through their faith, is a poor indictment of Pakistani laws. Pak-Christians are a forgotten minority and their hardships are set to increase and this grieves me intensely."
"Unless the democratic nations of the world outwardly condemn the hatred spilling out in the Islamic world, the rot is set to fester and grow and one day it will be the nations that stood silent that will be those calling for help. I hope that brave politicians take a more hardline approach before it is too late, as evidently ignoring the problem serves no purpose."