Sunday, 13 December 2009

Egypt Christian group seeks to change Muslim status

By Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO (Reuters) - Ayman Raafa, an Egyptian born a Christian, was nine months old when the father he never knew converted to Islam.

Now 23, Raafa is fighting to get the Christian faith he professes recognised by the state and registered on his identity documents vital to daily life.

Raafa was raised a Christian but the state says children automatically become Muslim on a father's conversion, a policy that places dozens of people in limbo in a society that does not -- in practice -- recognise conversion away from Islam.

Raafa is one of a group of 40 facing the same identity conundrum and now filing a lawsuit to have their Christian faith recognised, touching a raw spot in relations between Muslims and 10 percent of Egypt's 77 million people who are Christian.

"I graduated last year and I cannot get a job because I do not have a national ID," Raafa said at his lawyer's office, near a well-known Coptic Christian church and hospital in Cairo.

Interior Ministry official Hany Abdel-Latif, like other officials, insisted no such discriminatory rules existed.

But Lawyer Peter El-Naggar said in practice children of converts away from Islam would not get approval for a new ID card stating their Christian faith. He said such applications are usually returned with a request to correct "mistakes".

But he said: "If anyone (has become) a Muslim and goes to the civil authority, it will be changed in 24 hours."

Religious conversions whichever faith is chosen, though not officially banned, are unacceptable to many in Egypt of the abandoned faith. The issue can cause sectarian flare ups.

Relations between Muslims and Christians are usually calm but rows, which can turn violent, do erupt over issues which also include disputes over land used to build churches and inter-faith relationships or marriages.

Highlighting tensions between the two communities, an Egyptian court sentenced two Christian men to death last month for killing the Muslim husband of a female relative who converted to Islam against her family's wishes.


While the Egyptian constitution guarantees freedom of religion, in practice officials are reluctant to acknowledge religions other than Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

In April, some Egyptian villagers attacked the homes of members of the tiny minority Baha'i faith, whose faith originated in Iran. Attackers hurled stones and firebombs.

Hossam Bahgat of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said Egyptian courts have typically ruled against recognising any conversion from Islam, regardless of circumstances. He said the court was likely to reject Naggar's case too.

"Most courts make a legal mistake in treating the defendants as converts while in fact they are not. They have never been real Muslims their entire life," Bahgat said.

Lawyer Naggar, himself a Christian, said he based the case for his 40 clients on an Islamic decree, or fatwa, issued in 1983 from Dar al-Iftaa, a state body that issues such rulings.

He said the decree said no person becomes a Muslim without declaring the shehadah, the statement of Muslim faith. None of his 40 clients had made this declaration, he said.

Reflecting sensitivies, Naggar said: "I am not talking about anyone who disavows (their religion), that's not the issue."

Dar al-Iftaa spokesman Sheikh Ibrahim Nagm said the religious body had not issued any decree on conversions.

The head of a department on conversion at Al-Azhar, Egypt's other main state-backed Islamic body, Sheikh Mahmoud Gamea, said he was not authorised to speak to the media on the issue.

Al-Azhar's Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs website ( says anyone can adopt any faith but should not spread his beliefs "among the people in order to confuse them regarding their moral values".

Anyone doing this and who spreads false beliefs will have opposed the state and stirred sedition among people, it says adding: "Any person who acts in such a manner will be accused of treason and condemned to death."

Exclusive: Jirga - Interview with a Suicide Bomber - 2nd July 2009 (Part 3 of 3)

Exclusive: Jirga - Interview with a Suicide Bomber - 2nd July 2009 (Part 2 of 3)

Exclusive: Jirga - Interview with a Suicide Bomber - 2nd July 2009 (Part 1 of 3)

Government of Pakistan (PPP) and Government of Punjab (PML-N) – A Struggle for control of Pakistan: Raymond Durrani

Dear Friends of Christian Minority of Pakistan:

Government of Pakistan (PPP) and Government of Punjab (PML-N) – A Struggle for control of Pakistan:

It is our opinion that PPP government has not only failed to protect interests of the largest minority, members of the Christian minority in Pakistan from the home grown Muslim Extremists and Terrorists but also has deprived them from earning decent living by educating illiterate people who yet have to learn the art of civilization.

While presenting the bill in 1971 in the National Assembly the Interior Minister, Mulana Qusir Niazi said and I quote, “takeover their institutions and let them die their own death”. The dead Prime Minister, Z. A. Bhutto then nationalized all the Christian Schools, Colleges and Hospitals to offset the loss of East Pakistan in 1971 which was his fault. He then addressed the nation of the remaining Pakistan, the Muslim Extremists and said and I quote, “I have taken the symbol of Christianity (The Cross) from the face of this land, Pakistan.” We paid a heavy price for the mistakes of PPP which has failed to protect us from the Muslim Extremists for all these years. I strongly believe that the government wants the largest minority, the Christian Minority to dissipate from the face of that country. If not, we would demand the following:

 The government of Pakistan should abolish the blasphemy law;
 Call back the bill from Swat to practice Shria Law immediately;
 Introduce a bill to have the Christians practice double voting right in the national and provincial election and reserve percentage of Senate seats for Christians;
 Restore rights for the minorities as stated in the Constitution of 1948;
 Return rest of the Christian owned and operated Schools, Colleges and Hospitals back to with expenses paid for at least for two years as cost of occupation; and
 Introduce new legislation to protect minorities from home grown Extremists and strict penalties including death penalties for the abusers of minorities.

Option for the Government of Pakistan:

If the government has difficulty in complying with the demands stated above then it has the following option of separate piece of land as stated in the document below which has further rational and logic built in it in addition to the demands stated above:

As you may know that the Govt. of Pakistan has failed to protect the Christian community of 15 to 20 million from the mass 150 million Muslims. The Christian community has been terrorized, harassed, tortured, humiliated, spited on, raped and persecuted for years. You may be able to read all that in "Pakistan Christian Post". While in there, you can click on the website of "Pakistan Christian Congress" to read more about it. The time has come when the community has requested that they be given separate piece of land by dividing the province of Blochistan into East Blochistan for Blochies and “West Blochistan" for minorities. There is room for both, believe you me as stated below.

Pakistan covers 803, of land. The latest count puts the population at 177 million (2008 estimate) as below:

-Balochistan - the largest province - covers 44% of PAKISTAN’s
Land mass (353,738. with population of only 10 million (2008 estimate);

-Punjab - the 2nd largest province - covers 25% of Pakistan ’s the land mass
(205, with population of around 110 million (2008 estimate);

It is the Punjab where most of my people reside. It will be difficult for Pakistan to give even one inch of land.

What I suggest is that Pakistan gave us 176, from Balochistan to form our own Province which will be part of Pakistan with the head being a Governor, appointed by the government of Pakistan and it will be called West Blochistan. Since it is mostly underdeveloped, it makes economic sense to give half of it to those people who know how to develop economy and we will be self supporters and will not even ask for large share as the other provinces. This newly formed province will shine within few years from it existence and will have:

 Iran in the West;
 Afghanistan in the North;
 Pakistan in the East; and
 Arabian Sea in the South.

The border will be drawn from Bahawal Khan in the north to Saida Khan in the south. Please check Pakistan’s map for details.

Here is how it should start:

 All members of the Christian people of Pakistan, along with any other minority members who want to move in there;
 Government of Pakistan will, under the current system, appoint a Governor;
 A Premier will be designated until the elections are held and he will announce his cabinet with the approval of the Governor;
 Pakistan will furnish the initial expenses along with all the internal community including the members of the Christian people abroad;
 This province will have its own Police force to keep order and law; and
 IMF and World bank will finance the province for major projects.

The Province will be responsible for collecting its own taxes and will pass on the share of the Federal government to it every year.

I hope you will understand my point and get few of your colleagues to support our cause - and an honest one.

I thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely yours,


Raymond Durrani and Associates
Political Strategists
Friends of Minorities in Pakistan

Baluch leader torn Pakistani Flag on Independence Day.: JOSEPH PATRES

Washington DC: August 18, 2009. (PCP report) Symbolism marked the Baluch mourning day on Pakistan's independence in Washington DC as candles were lit for tens of thousands of Baluch killed, missing and being tortured in Pakistan military dungeons since Baluchistan was forcibly annexed on March 27, 1948.

Former speaker of the Baluchistan assembly, Waheed Baloch, was the chief guest at a meeting organized by the pro-liberation American Friends of Baluchistan and its allies to protest Pakistan's military occupation of Baluchistan. Laurie Deamer, presiding council member of the AFB, presided over the meeting.

One by one, Baluch and Americans lit candles to end the darkness and pall of gloom that Pakistan's creation had inflicted on the people of Baluchistan. The green flag of Pakistan was cut in half at the historic St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church –- the main venue of protests against social and environmental injustices in Washington DC -- as a mark of solidarity with the liberation struggle of the Baluch people.

In the backdrop of a stage bedecked by banners that showed pictures of Nawab Akbar Bugti, Bala'ach Marri, Ghulam Mohammed Baluch, Lala Munir Baluch and Sher Mohammed Baluch, "Down With Pakistan" and "Free Baluchistan -- Stop Barrick," Speaker Waheed Baloch narrated the history of betrayal of Baluchistan by Pakistan's founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

He said whilst August 14th marks the 62nd anniversary of Pakistan's creation and was being celebrated by the state of Pakistan, the people of Balochistan, the largest province which forms 43 percent of the entire Pakistani territory, are mourning and marking this day as a black day in the history of Balochistan, as they were deprived of their independence and liberty and statehood by force, military actions, conspiracy, political deception and downright betrayal by the state of Pakistan.

He said, "Sixtyone years have passed since the occupation of Balochistan but there is no realization by the Pakistani government authorities, intellectuals, parliamentarians, historians alike to concede that Mr. Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan as claimed by state of Pakistan, had betrayed the Baloch."

Malik Rehmani Baloch, AFB member and former Baloch Student Organization activist from Karachi, said the people of Baluchistan had suffered for quite too long a period and hoped that the candles that were being lit in Washington DC would soon help the Baluch realize their cherished dream of independence from the neo-colonial yoke of Pakistan.

Waheed Baloch pointed out that Jinnah was a lawyer for the Baluch ruler Khan of Kalat to negotiate Baluchistan' s independence from the British and questioned how could Jinnah become the father of the Baloch nation. Jinnah had initially agreed to the independent and sovereign status of Baluchistan, but then deceptively annexed Baluchistan at the point of gun.

"The division of Indian subcontinent in 1947, not only created hatred, religious and sectarian division, it also deprived Baloch of their independent state of Balochistan and threw them into the darkness of suppression, occupation, slavery and plundering of their natural resources by the newly created country, Pakistan," the former speaker of the Baluchistan assembly and right-hand man of "Baluch Nelson Mandela" Sardar Akhtar Mengal said.

An AFB leader expressed concern that American senators had always treated Pakistan like a sacred cow whether it was military dictators, Ayub Khan, Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf or corrupt civilian leaders like Asif Ali Zardari

More than any politician, Pakistani army chiefs including the present chief General Asfaq Pervez Kayani, enjoys celebrity status in Washington DC, while US supplied weapons have been used against the liberation strugle of Baluchistan.

"This is because the interests of the military industrial complex reign supreme," an AFB member pointed out.


Sakura Saunders, an international activist against Barrick Gold Corporation' s operations against indigenous people warned that Baluch will have little to gain from the Barrick Gold at the $100 billlion Gold and Copper mines in Reko Diq as gold companies have a history of promoting corruption and militarization and targeting politically marginalized people.

"Since Barrick has taken over Reko Diq project from the other mining giant, BHP, they have fired the few Baluch people who formerly occupied managerial and security posts," Saunders said. "This move, in addition to the moving of their head office to Islamabad have heightened the fear amongst the Baluch that this mine will not contribute to their development. An examination of other Barrick mines around the world supports this fear, revealing tensions with local people."

Of the 42 people now on the administrative positions of Barrick subsidiary Tethyan Copper Company of Pakistan not a single employee is a Baluch or from Baluchistan, locals at Reko Diq complain.

The name of DC-based Pakistani businessman Muslim Lakhani, who played a key role in bringing Barrick Gold to Baluchistan because of his links in the Musharraf regime repeatedly resonated at the meeting.


Waja Ghafoor Baluch, an AFB member from Miami, Florida, and formerly of Baloch Ittehad, called upon the Baluch people to stay focused on the liberation agenda and not to get distracted by Pakistan's electoral politics as it promises precious little to the Baluch masses and prolongs their slavery.

He said when leaders who believe in parliamentary politics visit the US, the Baluch should not entertain them as they are part of the Pakistani establishment and their politics of compromise with Islamabad helps maintain the status quo of slavery in Baluchistan.

Malik Rehmani Baluch read out a petition made by the American Friends of Baluchistan to different nations, including the US, India and the European Union.

The AFB petition reads:

"This meeting organized by the American Friends of Baluchistan and its allies calls upon the US government, State Department and all related agencies to put the independence of Baluchistan on its agenda and work accordingly;

"This meeting is of the considered opinion that Baluchistan is an occupied territory of Pakistan, has been so for more than 61 years now. and that the Pakistani occupation has resulted in killings, disappearances, torture, loot and plunder of their natural resources and collective misery of the Baluch people;

"This meeting calls upon Islamabad and Tehran to respect the national rights of the Baluch people, including their right to form their own state and calls upon the two Islamic republics of Pakistan and Iran not to stand in the way of a secular and democratic independent Baluchistan;

"This meeting calls upon the government of India to play its role as the world's largest democracy and a neighbor of Baluchistan to ensure the safety and well-being of the Baluch people by calling upon Islamabad to withdraw its armed forces and paramilitary Frontier Corp and all institutions that further the enslavement of the Baluch people so that the human rights of the Baluch people as underlined in the charter of human rights are respected;

"This meeting is of the considered opinion that the solution to the Af-Pak crisis and end of terrorism lies in part in the creation of an independent Baluchistan and calls upon the US and NATO member countries to open direct talks with the Baluch leaders;

"This meeting condemns the rogue state of Pakistan for its abduction and torture of the freedom-loving Baluch people and asks the European Union to step into Baluchistan to ensure that Pakistan's Military Intelligence and infamous Inter Services Intelligence must exit Baluchistan. This meeting expresses its serious concern about the fate of Baluch-Norwegian dual national Ehsan Arjemandi and will hold Pakistan responsible for any harm to Mr. Arjemandi;

"This meeting expresses its genuine concern over the activities of international corporations in Baluchistan, notably Barrick Gold Corporation, and urges international auditors to investigate the handing of the gold and copper mines to Barrick and Antofagasta in from Tethyan Copper of Mr. Muslim Lakhani;

"This meeting condemns the government of Pakistan for failing to provide security to the life and well-being of the Christian minority;

"This meeting urges an end to all nuclear testing activities in Baluchistan."


As a mark of respect to the history of Baluchistan, Sakura Saunders presented a 2,000 years old coin from the Scintian period to Speaker Waheed Baluch.

In her concluding remarks, Laurie Deamer expressed the hope the Baluch struggle for international justice will lead to creation of an independent state on the world map.

The AFB protest meeting in DC was endorsed by the premier Washington DC peace group CODEPINK.

AFB members from Dallas, Houston, Miami and Philadelphia flew into Washington for the event.

Meanwhile, reports from Quetta, capital of Occupied Baluchistan, said many cities and towns were rocked by series of bomb blasts. Quetta presented the look of a ghost town on Pakistan's independence day. Television channels were off the air presumably out of fear Baluch freedom fighters will take over them.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Fear of new attacks means “silent” Christmas for Christians: by Fareed Khan

Outdoor recitals, carols and decorations are cancelled. Liturgical services and Midnight Mass will go ahead as usual. Bishops talk about an “atmosphere of fear;” yet the faith of Christian believers is stronger than the violence. The commission of inquiry investigating last summer’s violence in Gojra calls on the government to change the blasphemy laws.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Pakistani Christians are preparing for a silent and low key Christmas without much public pomp and display. The community is still reeling from last summer’s attacks against the villages of Koriyan and Gojra. The army’s offensive against Islamic extremists and the latter’s wave of attacks are not helping either. Indeed, fear of more violence remains high.
Mgr Lawrence John Saldanha, archbishop of Lahore and president of the Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, told AsiaNews that 2009 is going to end in a “silent Christmas” because the country’s situation is very bad.

In previous years, schools and parishes used to organise outdoor recitals, carols and other events associated with the festivities. This year, many people “have already cancelled events” and “outdoor decorations will not be put up on homes and buildings.”

“This year, the atmosphere and mood are not happy because people are fearful and upset by the country’s current situation,” the archbishop said. Still, liturgical functions and Midnight Mass will go ahead as in the past, and “the number of people will not be less because their faith is firm.”

Attacks against villages and extrajudicial killings carried out in the name of the blasphemy laws have fuelled fears and concerns in the Christian community. However, there are some small signs of hope for change.

A commission of inquiry chaired by a judge from the High Court in Lahore into events in Gojra, a village that was attacked last summer with homes set on fire and eight people killed, called on the government to take a number of steps, including bring changes to the blasphemy laws.

Adopted in 1986 under the rule of then Pakistan dictator Zia-ul-Haq, these laws impose life in prison or the death penalty on anyone who desecrates the Qur‘an or defiles the name of Muhammad.

Christmas has already produced a small miracle by reviving Pakistan’s garment industry.

In an interview published on IslamOnline, Mohsin Mirza, president of the Pakistan Readymade Garments Association, said, “The industry was going down until we received Christmas orders this year.” Overall, “We have received 20 per cent more orders this year,” mostly from the United States and Europe, worth “US$ 1.5 billion in Christmas apparel”.

Thanks: Bro. Tariq Chaudry for bringing this to our attention..

Friday, 11 December 2009

Siraat-ul-mustaqeen ,Check my point of view. Watson Gill p/1

Siraat-ul-mustaqeen ,Check my point of view. Watson Gill p/2

Muslim hotel row case dismissed

A devout Christian couple have been cleared of insulting a Muslim guest because of her faith.

Benjamin and Sharon Vogelenzang were accused of launching a tirade against Ericka Tazi at the Bounty House Hotel in Aintree, Liverpool, in March.

The couple had denied using threatening, abusive or insulting words which were religiously aggravated.

The Crown Prosecution System said it was satisfied there had been sufficient evidence for a successful prosecution.

District judge Richard Clancy dismissed the case at Liverpool Magistrates' Court on Wednesday afternoon.

Mrs Tazi, who converted to Islam 18 months ago, spent a month at the hotel in Church Avenue while attending a course at Aintree Hospital.

Business affected

She claimed the couple became enraged when she wore a hijab on her last day and accused Mr Vogelenzang, 53, of asking her if she was a murderer and a terrorist.

She also told the court Mr Vogelenzang called the Prophet Muhammad a murderer and a warlord and likened him to Saddam Hussein and Hitler.

But the couple denied her version of events and claimed Mrs Tazi told them Jesus was a minor prophet and that the Bible was untrue.

Mr Vogelenzang admitted that his wife may have referred to the hijab as a form of bondage, but said he only listed historical figures such as Hitler, Nero and Mao to make light of the situation.

Earlier on Wednesday the court heard that takings at the couple's hotel were down by 80% since they were prosecuted for the public order offence.

Speaking from the witness box, Mr Vogelenzang accused 60-year-old Mrs Tazi of "trying to ruin his business" during heated scenes.

The two-day trial ended when Judge Clancy ruled that the evidence against the hoteliers was "inconsistent" and dismissed the case.

He told the couple that religion and politics was the "tinderbox which set the whole thing alight" because of both parties' "strongly entrenched positions".

Evidence inconsistent

Explaining his reasons for dismissal, Judge Clancy said Mrs Tazi's claim that she was verbally attacked for up to an hour had not been backed up by the other witnesses.

He also said the language Mrs Tazi used in the exchange "did not quite form the same religious view" that was put to him on the stand.

Judge Clancy said: "I'm not satisfied on the facts that this case has been made out."

Mr and Mrs Vogelenzang were backed by campaign group The Christian Institute which held demonstrations of support outside the court.

Their supporters cheered as the couple emerged from the building after the hearing.
“ We were satisfied that there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction ”
Nicola Inskip, CPS

Speaking outside court, Mrs Vogelenzang, 54, said: "It has been a very difficult nine months and we are looking forward to rebuilding our business and getting on with our lives.

"We would like to thank all those who have supported us over the last nine months - our family, our friends, our church, and Christians from all around the world and non-Christians.

"And as Christmas approaches we wish everybody peace and goodwill."

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) later defended the decision to prosecute saying it was a "serious allegation".

"In looking at the evidence in this case we had to consider whether there was any evidence that the defendants had caused harassment, alarm or distress and in so doing demonstrated to the victim hostility solely based on the fact that she was Muslim," said senior lawyer Nicola Inskip.

"We were satisfied that there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction that a religiously aggravated offence should be charged."
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/12/09 17:22:20 GMT