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Difficulties faced by the Indigenous Christians in the Holy Land

Sami El-Yousef ist Regionaldirektor der Organisation "Pontifical Mission Jerusalem". Foto: ETWN

Sami El-Yousef ist Regionaldirektor der Organisation “Pontifical Mission Jerusalem”. Foto: ETWN

Sami El-Yousef, Generaldirektor der Pontificial Mission in Jerusalem, hat für das Internationale Katholische Missionswerk missio in Aachen vor Ostern eine Botschaft verfasst. Er beschreibt die Lage im Heiligen Land 2015 und beschäftigt sich vor allem mit den Schwierigkeiten der einheimischen Christen, an den Stätten der Osterbotschaft zu feiern.

Five years ago, and specifically in April 2010, and as part of my anger management technique to deal with the difficulties faced by the indigenous Christians during Holy Week to reach their most holy sites within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, I documented what I went through during the Holy Fire celebrations.

Every year since then and around Easter, I pull my treasured hard copy and re-read the story to compare it to the reality of the current Easter, only to find out that the story could have as well been written then! The same difficulties are encountered every year, as more and more restrictions are imposed and freedom of access to one’s holy sites seem to become more of a luxury rather than a right.

I do not believe there is any other place on earth where you see so much disrespect to a holy site and with so many arms inside

But like all Palestinians, and in a very sad way, with each passing year, our prayer is that the situation does not get worse. In a very sad way, the status quo has become the norm that you fight to maintain rather than hope and aspire to go back to the “good old days” when the ceremonies and access to the holy sites were completely free. We have been accustomed for more military and police officers with full gear in the church courtyard, roof, and inside the Holy Sepulcher itself, than there are worshippers. That in itself is shameful. I do not believe there is any other place on earth where you see so much disrespect to a holy site and with so many arms inside a church as is the case in our treasured Holy Sepulcher during the Holy Fire celebration. The saddest part of all is that all these measures have nothing to do with the so claimed security or public safety!

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Pakistan: “Religious minorities should be ensured by the state” (Aila Gill)

by S. Sheeky, Pakistan

 Aila Gill works with the National Commission for Justice & Peace (NCJP) in Project “Democratic Education” for last three years as Program Organizer. She is also assisting a campaign for peace education with NCJP in seven dioceses of Pakistan-Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Quetta, Rawalpindi, Karachi and Hyderabad dioceses. S. Skeeky interviewed her.

Aila Gill in ihrem Büro in Pakistan (Foto: privat).

Aila Gill in her office in Pakistan (photo: private).

Does the spirituality and religion still matter in area where you launch projects? Because in a country like Pakistan, where does the violence that often see Christian and other minorities victimized by Muslim come from?

Aila Gill: Spirituality and religion still matters a lot particularly in remote areas where most of the people are illiterate and they consider Pakistan is an Islamic ideological state instead of a welfare state as per Quaid’s vision. Most of people think that religion is core of the state and state should perform its duty in the light of religion therefore minorities are not considered to be main streamed. Our society still needs to be more liberal and democratic although it will take time, but at least a determined effort needs to be done in this direction.

What kind of challenges, Christian community or Christian leaders face in day to day life, and implementation of their project? How ordinary people feel and live their faith nowadays?

Aila Gill: The biggest challenge Christian community or leaders face is religious discrimination due to their distinct faith; they face this discrimination either in the education system, work place or in constitution. Therefore ordinary people feel insecure or deprived from mainstream and sometimes they have to hide their identity as Christian just to avoid this discrimination. Discriminatory laws and their misuse is another major challenge for the community due to which incident of mob violence are increasing day by day e.g incident recently took place in khot Radha kishan, Joseph Colony, Desecration of Temple in Larkana and Hyderabad.

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Nach Mord an zwei Christen in Pakistan: Proteste in vielen Städten

“Pakistanische Christen stellen sich heute die Frage: in was für einem Land leben wir?” (fides), berichtete Pater James Channan (OP) am vergangenen Mittwoch, einen Tag nach dem Mord an einem christlichen Ehepaar. Christen in ganz Pakistan protestieren seitdem in vielen Städten und fordern Gerechtigkeit. Die Erwartungen an die Regierung sind hoch. Erneut stellt sich die Frage nach dem Missbrauch der Blasphemiegesetze in Pakistan. Shahbaz Sharif, Regierungschef der Provinz Punjab, leitete eine Untersuchungskommission ein. Pater James Channan, unser WMS-Gast vergangenen Oktober, besuchte die Familie der Opfer und teilt hier seine Bilder und Gedanken:

I visited the family of Shazad and Shama in Clarkabad Village, Pakistan. They were burnt alive.

Portrait des ermordeten christlichen Ehepaars aus Pakistan (Foto: privat).

Portrait des ermordeten christlichen Ehepaars aus Pakistan. Shama (links) und ihr Mann Shahzad. (Foto: privat)

We were consoling the elder brother of Shahzad – the name of this brother is Shahbad.


There were 2 other Dominican priests with me: Fr Marcus Daniel OP and Fr Akhtar Naveed OP.

Pater James Channan und Akra Naveed bei der Familie der Opfer (Foto: James Channan).

Bei der Familie der Opfer (Foto: James Channan).

We also went to the graves where only a few burnt bones are buried.

Pater James Channan und Akta Naveed am Grab der Ermordeten (Foto: James Channan).

A lot of protests are going on in different cities of Pakistan. Let us see if justice will be done.

Christen protestieren in ganz Pakistan. Sie fordern Gerechtigkeit. (Foto: James Channan)

Für Shama und Shahzad: Christen gehen auf die Straße. Sie fordern Gerechtigkeit. (Foto: James Channan)



Pater James Channan zum Fall der totgepügelten Christen in Pakistan: “Where is justice?”

Vergangenen Dienstag (4. November) hat eine aufbegrachte Menschenmenge in Pakistan ein christliches Ehepaar wegen angeblicher Entweihung des Korans zu Tode gerpügelt und verbrannt. Die Christen in Pakistan sind traumatisiert und protestieren. Sie fordern Gerechtigkeit. Erneut stellt sich die Frage nach dem Missbrauch der Blasphemiegesetze. Pater James Channan (OP), Leiter des Friedenszentrums in Lahore, glaubt an den Interreligiösen Dialog in seinem Land. Immer wieder trifft er sich mit religiösen Führern der Muslime, um am Frieden zu arbeiten. Was dem christlichen Ehepaar widerfahren ist, hat ihn zutiefst schockiert. Gestern (5.11) fuhr er zu der Familie der Opfer und beschreibt in eigenen Worten, was er dort erlebte:

“This afternoon I went Clarkabad (home town of Shahzad) to visit the family of Shahzad (he is also known as Sajjad) and Shama – Christian couple who were burnt alive. What a tragedy and barbaric act of violence!

I went to Village named Clarkabad which at the distance to about 50 miles/ 80 Kilometers to the south of Lahore. Shahzad was from this Christian village and he was a brick kiln worker for the past 15 years – that to say from his childhood.

Die Christen in Pakistan sind traumatisiert. Sie bitten um Gebete für die Opfer, die Familie der Opfer und für alle Christan in Pakistan - damit sie diese schwierige Zeit durchstehen. (Foto: Hartmut Schwarzbach/missio)

Die Christen in Pakistan sind traumatisiert. Sie bitten um Gebete für die Opfer, die Familie der Opfer – insbesondere die Kinder – und für alle Christen in Pakistan, damit sie diese schwierige Zeit durchstehen. (Foto: Hartmut Schwarzbach/missio)

I met Shahbaz, elder brother of Shahzad  and couple of his other relatives. I consoled them, prayed and expressed my solidarity with them. I also went to the grave of Shahzad and Shama and offered prayers over there as well.  As you can imagine they were in grave shock and state of unbelief.

This couple was working in a brick killen of a wealthy Muslim man called Yousaf Gujjar and got loan of about Rs: 500,000 (US$ 5,000) which he was not able to pay. Shahzad promised that he will pay this amount but it will take some time. The owner developed grudge against Shahzad.

torture and humiliation

The familiy told me that  Mrs. Shahzad was accused of burning of the Quran which never happened. There was no sign or proof that such a thing ever happened. They told me it was a false accusation which were flared up by Yousaf Gujjar.

After accusation both were locked up in a room for two days. A mob of about 1,500 Muslims came and they tore the roof this room apart and dragged out and beaten them up. Their clothes were stripped and they were forced to walk naked around the brick killen, humiliated and slapped. After that both were thrown alive in the furnace of the brick killen. Their bodies were burnt alive in no time and all that was found in  the furnace were few bones which were buried in two graves in Clarkabad. I have seen the photos of bones and also visited the grave they were buried. I consoled the grieving family.

For your information this couple had 3 children 1 son 6 years old and 2 daughter aging 4 and 2 years. Shama was expecting baby and she was 4 months pregnant. So this unborn baby was also burnt along with her mother. In that case there were not 2 but 3 pernicious human beings burnt. This is very first incident of its kind in Pakistan.

Christian community in great trauma – Muslim community in state of shock

This terrible barbaric act has put the entire Christian community in a great shock and trauma. The Muslims community in general is also in a state of unbelief and shock and they are condemning this act and expressing condolences to Christians.

Christians feel extremely unsafe and vulnerable.  This is not the first time that poor Christians are punished under these laws without any trial or judgement.

There are  controversial blasphemy laws in Pakistan. Life imprisonment for the person who desecrates the Holy Quran and death penalty for that who defames the name of  the Prophet of Islam.

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Pakistan: candle vigil in front of the pressclub in Faisalabad – international day of peace

By S.Sheeky, Faisalabad, Pakistan

“to promote peace and to strengthen the society” is what people wish for in Pakistan. Therefore, they came together for a peaceful protest in front of the pressclub in Faisalabad to demonstrate against escalating intolerance and violence in their country:

Peaceful protest against escalating intolerance and violence in Pakistan (Foto: S. Sheeky).

Peaceful protest against escalating intolerance and violence in Pakistan (Foto: S. Sheeky).

candle virgil to mark international day of peace

The Peace and Human Development (PHD), Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM) in collaboration with the Adara Samaji Behbood (ASB), Kuknas and Awami Workers Party (AWP) organized a candle vigil to mark international day of peace and death anniversary of freedom fighter Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal. The participants hailing from different communities and different socio-economic background, gathered outside the press club in Faisalabad on 21 September 2014, and lit candles to honour the courageous martyr of 1857 for his struggle for freedom against British rule.

martyr Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal: freedom fighter

Speaking on the occasion, the director of the Kuknas, Tohid Ahmad paid rich tribute to martyr Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal, a greatest freedom fighter in the Punjab rebellion of 1857, who was shot dead in the battlefield of Okara district on 21 September 1857 while he was saying his afternoon prayers.

A general secretary of the Awami Workers Party, Arif Ayaz said that Martyr Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal was a man with courage and bravery, who led the rebellion of the local Muslims against the British authority, and refused to pay taxes to the British employees, and sacrificed his life for freedom.

intolerance and violence

candles for peace in Pakistan (Foto: Sheeky).

candles for peace in Pakistan (Foto: Sheeky).

The director of the AWAM, Nazia Sardar said, “Intolerance and violence are escalating in Pakistan, therefore young people of Pakistan having enormous potential to affect public attitude and perceptions, must be sensitized and educated in Peace-building, as they key instrument to mitigate conflicts, nurture peace and strengthen tolerance in society.”
wish for peace and political harmony

The director of the PHD Foundation, Suneel Malik said, “Peace and political harmony will come in Pakistan when everyone will first think of the country’s interests instead of thinking for themselves. Therefore, comprehensive electoral reforms must be introduced to put an end to the political crises in Pakistan, and prevent the rigging and enhance the quality of future elections. The new provinces including Hazara, Gilgit-Baltistan, South Punjab, FATA on administrative basis are imperative to deliver rights to the people at their doorstep.”

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Christian Women in Pakistan are afflicted with double discrimination and marginalization

By Shumaila Gill und S. Sheeky, Pakistan

Shumaila Gill (24) lives in Lahore and has a master's degree in Sociology. As a Christian she is opposed to the disadvantage against women and supports religious minorities.

Shumaila Gill (24) lives in Lahore and has a master’s degree in Sociology. As a Christian she is opposed to the disadvantage against women and supports religious minorities. (Foto: private)

Shumaila Gill lives as a Christian in Lahore in Pakistan. Her concern is to call attention to the situation of religious minorities and especially to the situation of women. In the following text she describes discrimination of women in Pakistan, because of their commitment to their Christian faith. She calls for changes in the government so that women in Pakistan will get the same status and respect as men.

Lahore – Women form an important part in building the society and our lives. Being a daughter, a sister, a wife, a friend and a mother a woman’s responsibilities increase with time. Despite the role she plays, her abilities, status and existences are under-estimated, degraded and she is exploited merely on the basis of her gender which is considered less than that of a man.

Pakistan is a country where women are in minority as compared to men according to a survey this ratio is 49:51 it means that women are 49% of the total population then men which is 51% this ratio clearly shows that there are large number of men as compared to women due to which, women faces numerous challenges in their social, political and economic life as compared to men and if we talk about the  women from minority religion either she is Hindu ,Sikh ,Christian or Ahmadi their  situation is  worse because she faces double discrimination and marginalization. Mehr lesen

India after the election: “The threats are not just Christians and Muslims as minority; but human rights and human dignity is at stake”

Der indische katholische Priester und Menschenrechtsaktivist Ajaya Kumar Sing aus Odisha. Foto:

Der indische katholische Priester und Menschenrechtsaktivist Ajaya Kumar Sing aus Odisha. Foto:

missio-Partner Fr. Ajay Kumar Singh ist katholischer Priester und Menschenrechts-Aktivist in Bhubanes im Bundesstaat Orissa. Er setzte sich besonders für die Aufklärung von Angriffen gegen Christen in Orissa und gegen Moslems im Bundesstaat Gujdarat ein. Für sein Engagement hat er dafür unter anderem einen Preis der Nationalen Kommission für Minoritäten in Indien bekommen. Johannes Seibel stellte ihm am heutigen Freitag, 16. Mai, mehrere Fragen zum Wahlsieg der hindunationalistischen Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) und dessen Kandidaten Narendra Modi. 

Frage: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is most probably going to win the election of India new Parliament, Narendra Modi most probably the new Premier of India. What does this mean for “non-Hindu”-minorities like Muslims and Christians?

Fr. Ajay Kumar Singh: We hope BJP does not get absolute majority. Even if it does not get majority, the scenario, still could be grim as the parties who would support it would know what Modi and Sangh Parivar stood for. On earlier occasion, there were pretensions and conditionalities. Those who have left earlier coalitions of BJP on the basis of Gujarat and other communal violence could join coalition mean they care less about the communal violence less more about the history of it.

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