Persecuted Pakistani Christian Meets American Brethren

Nov 10th, 2015 | By | Category: Weekly Washington Updates

By Andrew Herrod:

“We witness our Christian faith and proclaim the word of God in the land where Islamic fundamentalists and extremists are in power,” stated recently a Pakistani Christian to a Washington, DC, area Christian gathering.   Speaking anonymously for fear of reprisals back home, “Thomas” expressed with somewhat rudimentary English stark views about Islam during a church reception for about 30 and subsequent interview.

“You are very much free and blessed people,” Thomas noted for his American audience who “do not need guards while you worship.”  By contrast, reception displays on Pakistani Christians included a photo of an adolescent pastor’s son standing guard with an assault rifle before a church.  This “son is protecting the worshippers by putting his life in danger and father is preaching the gospel to save the life of the worshippers,” he stated.

An interviewed Thomas noted how guards averted massive casualties during a March 2015 attack on Lahore, Pakistan’s Catholic Church by preventing suicide bombers from entering, yet he distrusted Muslims in Pakistani security forces.  While he perceived a lax official response to attacks upon Christian institutions or mosques of Pakistan’s Shiite minority, the army responded vigorously to a 2014 terrorist massacre at a Peshawar army children’s school.  Christians often insist upon having private Christian guards for whom “their brothers and sisters are inside” church.

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Thomas in his presentation exemplified violence against Pakistani Christians by introducing a couple now in American asylum.  The husband described being followed home from his bank job by a hostile Muslim and a subsequent Muslim attack during home prayer.  Seen as allied with “Christian” America, Pakistani Christians also often suffer from Muslim rioting in opposition to American foreign policy such as the 2003 Iraqi regime change, an interviewed Thomas noted. Should Christian refugee children be allowed to celebrate Christmas?[/su_button]

“Accusations of blasphemy have become a custom” as well for Christians under Pakistan’s notorious law punishing blasphemy with death, Thomas’ presentation noted.  Although Pakistan has yet to execute any imprisoned defendant under this law, it is a source of incitement for popular vigilante killings.  This law means “I have to be very careful” evangelizing Muslims, he noted during the interview while citing the case of the American evangelist Hickey whom Pakistan banned from the country after one evangelical tour.  While Thomas openly evangelizes among Pakistani Hindus whose faith is not covered under the blasphemy law’s Muslims provisions, he will only evangelize Muslims who have already personally decided to convert.

Thomas’ presentation recognized that modern American Christians “have some sort of problems but not like ours” in Pakistan.  He described various forms of discrimination facing Pakistan’s small Christian minority such that they can often find only menial employment like cleaning jobs and face exclusion from Pakistani party electoral candidate lists.  Given prejudices that Christians are unclean, Pakistani Muslims often will not use utensils handled by Christians or eat meals prepared by them, precluding Christian management of hotels or restaurants.

An interviewed Thomas discussed how Pakistan had increasingly strayed from the vision of a secular republic advocated during Pakistan’s 1947 independence from British rule by founder father Muhammad Ali Jinnah.  Thomas focused on Pakistan’s 1973 constitution as a key turning point in the country’s Islamization, noting in particular this document reserved the presidency and office of prime minster to Muslims.  Yet the interview noted to Thomas that the 1973 constitution merely reiterated various Islamic provisions from Pakistan’s original 1956 constitution that first proclaimed Pakistan an Islamic Republic.

An interviewed Thomas noted the irony of Indian Christians having supported the creation of a Muslim-majority Pakistan during the Indian subcontinent’s independence struggle under the British.  The descendant of a Punjabi Sikh who converted to Christianity, he highlighted how Punjabi Christians like S.P. Singha supported joining this province to Pakistan while Sikhs voted to stay in a Hindu-majority India.  While Jinnah’s envisioned secular Pakistan appealed to Christians fearing Hindu domination, now Thomas wondered what they had received for their loyalty to Pakistan.

Thomas’ presentation attributed Pakistani Muslim persecution of Christians to fundamental differences between Christianity and Islam.  “If you read the Quran, strange things you will find,” he stated while focusing on Quran 5:51’s injunction for Muslims not to befriend Christians and Jews.  “Without any discrimination Christianity accepts everybody” but Muslims look at “first the religion, then the man.”

Should Christian refugee children be allowed to celebrate Christmas?

Ignoring that the word “Islam” means submission in Arabic, Thomas’ presentation offered the common misperception that Islam “comes from shalom.  It means peace but in practice it is not peace.”  Yet while “Christianity is a religion of peace,” an interviewed Thomas stated, “Islam pretends to say we are peacemaker, but in fact we are not peacemaker.”  “When a Christian pastor speaks and proclaims, he has a Gospel in one hand, a cross in the second hand,” Thomas’ address stated, but “when a Muslim preaches, they have the Quran in one hand and sword in the other hand.”  Muslims “gave the idea of fight and war whereas Christians gave the idea of life.”

An interviewed Thomas worried that the “picture which is given to Western countries and America…is a different Islam” that makes Westerners “think Islam is good.”  He criticized Pope Francis for supposedly saying that “there is no difference between the Quran and the Bible,” a view Thomas might have acquired from Francis’ positive statements about Islam or from a similar sounding internet satire.  He likewise criticized President Barack Obama, perceived by Thomas to be a “Muslim guy inside,” for “not doing anything for Christians” while Russian President Vladimir “Putin has taken a step” with anti-jihadist military action Syria.  Thomas urged caution towards Syrian Muslim refugees “going as refugees” to Europe “but inside they are invaders” while comparing them to a poison that can cause disturbances to a body.

Thomas appealed for aid for Pakistan’s persecuted Christians, such as international pressure upon the Pakistani government.  At least at the reception his appeals met with a response of over $6,400 contributed to his Pakistani church in a spontaneous collection.  Pakistan’s beleaguered Christians will need such help and more along with many prayers.

About Andrew Harrod
Andrew E. Harrod is a researcher and writer who holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a JD from George Washington University Law School. He is a fellow with the Lawfare Project, an organization combating the misuse of human rights law against Western societies. He can be followed on twitter at @AEHarrod.

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