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Candle Vigil in Faisalabad after Easter-Sunday Bombing

In Faisalbad fordern Demonstranten nach den Anschläge von Lahore an Ostersonntag die pakistanische Regierung auf, einen Aktionsplan gegen Hass und Intoleranz zu entwickeln. Foto: missio / S. Sheeky

In Faisalbad fordern Demonstranten nach den Anschläge von Lahore an Ostersonntag die pakistanische Regierung auf, einen Aktionsplan gegen Hass und Intoleranz zu entwickeln. Foto: missio / S. Sheeky

Hier ein Bericht und Bilder von S. Sheeky für missio Aachen von Aktionen in Pakistan gegen den Terrorismus nach dem Anschlag vom Ostersonntag in Lahore:

The city of Lahore once again had to face the harsh and tragic outbreak of the extremist forces in a deadly and brutal attack on innocent families visiting the park to celebrate the spring season and the festival of Easter. A few days back the government took an initiative to declare Holi (Hindu festival) and Easter (Christian festival) as holidays. While the non-Muslim community of Pakistan were rejoicing and appreciating the efforts of the government, on March 27, 2016, Easter Sunday, a suicide bomb in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park killed over 70 and left more than 300 injured. Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan Jamaatul Ahrar has claimed responsibility for the blast stating it had intentionally targeted the Christian Community on Easter. The National Commission for Justice and Peace, a rights based organization of Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, strongly condemns the tragic attack on innocent people in a public park.

His Lordship Bishop Dr. Joseph Arshad, Chairperson NCJP and Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani) National Director NCJP in a joint statement said that killing innocent people, in particular women and children, in the name of religion is unacceptable. While the motive was to target the Christians, yet so many of our Muslim Brothers, Sisters, Children and families who were also visiting the park on account of Sunday holiday fell victim to this brutal attack. We pray for all the victims of this attack, as they were all Pakistanis. While the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Army Chief have strongly condemned the attack, the commission calls upon the government to bring the perpetrators to justice and to tighten its measures for protection of all citizens including minorities and vulnerable communities.

They further stated that the government while addressing the extremist elements through the military operation needs to also address the root causes of this intolerance. It must conduct a large-scale operation to eliminate such elements that are prevalent in the province of Punjab and other parts of the country, which are operating and blatantly challenging the writ of the state.

Bishop Dr. Arshad and Fr. Yousaf further stated that the uncertainty of life is becoming more obvious in Pakistan. We thus pray to our Lord Jesus Christ that as a nation He may grant us wisdom, tolerance and peace. May God give strength to the families of the victims to endure the loss of their loved ones.

“The govt. must establish a parliamentary oversight committee to monitor and review the counter-terrorism efforts of the federal and provincial governments as well as concerned agencies to further improve the performance under NAP. The govt. should take concrete steps and adopt an appropriate strategy against terrorism and change the mind-set of those who sow terror and death across the country. The government must redefine its policies and make genuine efforts to ensure that such kinds of merciless acts against minority groups are not repeated, and persecution of religious minorities is stopped through bringing the perpetrators to justice,” demanded Fr. Khalid Rshid Asi while addressing the participants of a Candle Vigil in Faisalabad.

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Terroranschlag Paris: Akt gegen Menschlichkeit und Religion

Ajaya Kumar Singh. Foto: privat

Ajaya Kumar Singh. Foto: privat

Ein terroristischer Anschlag hat am Freitag, 13. November, Paris heimgesucht. missio-Projektpartner Ajaya Kumar Singh, der in Indien gegen die politische Instrumentalisierung von Religion kämpft, ist erschüttert. Er hat missio seine Gedanken geschildert. 

Von Ajaya Kumar Singh, Bhubaneswar
This is most chilling and despicable act against humanity. Gunning innocent civilians and taking hostages in the name of religion is really absurd and bizarre. The very religion that the group wants to protect, in fact destroying its basic tenet/ethos of it. One does find these elements in every religion. I was aghast when I saw this in Sri Lanka when the basic tenet of Buddhism thrown to the games of killing Tamilians by the follower of Budhist majoritarianism.
Today, the qualification of leadership is attributes to murders and violence. Violence breeds violence. Everybody would lose sight.
Ruthless, heartless beheadings, rapes and burning alive of Boko Haram and ISIS is bizarre. Islam is sign of peace and brotherhood; these groups have made mockery of Islam. They is no shreds of elements of Islam in their following.

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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