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176 children lost one or both parents in Sri Lanka Easter bombings

(World Watch Monitor) At least 176 children lost either one or both of their parents in the Sri Lanka Easter Sunday bombings, according to the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith.

Just over three months ago, at St. Anthony’s Shrine in the country’s capital saw a powerful explosion rip apart the bodies of worshippers. The shrine has already been rebuilt, but its congregation could not hold back their tears as they met for a packed Sunday service on the three month anniversary, July 21 – although not all survivors were yet emotionally ready to return to the parish.

Of the more than 250 people who died in the bombings in three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka, 54 were from St. Anthony’s, announced the priest, Fr. Jude Fernando during the service, as armed military personnel guarded the church and frisked all visitors. At least 106 worshippers were wounded in the explosion, he added.

Riswani, a mother of two and a convert from Islam, still cannot hear in one ear, which was wounded in the bombing. She was attending Easter service with her seven-month-old daughter, Athara. When her husband, Michel Thass, arrived – delayed as their five-year-old son wanted to sleep for longer – he found his wife lying on the floor, covered with pieces of flesh and blood from other victims. Baby Athara was found lying at a distance, her intestines hanging out of her stomach.

Athara, who’s had to undergo three surgeries, has recovered, but her mother is still in a state of shock, Thass told Vishal Arora in this film for World Watch Monitor.

Like Athara, dozens of children were seriously injured, and dozens of others died.

Islamist extremists bombed three churches, including St. Sebastian’s in Negombo (outside Colombo, close to the international airport) and the evangelical Zion Church in the city of Batticaloa in the Eastern Province, several hundred miles from the capital.

On July 21, St. Sebastian’s held their first service since the terror attacks.

In Batticaloa, some injured victims remain hospitalised, some still unaware that their children or spouses have succumbed to injuries, Raghu Balachandran from the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka said.

Helping victims and survivors deal with their emotional trauma is the biggest need at the moment, but there are few Christian counsellors available, he added.

‘It’s time to be real: what happens in Iraq is ethnic cleansing’ – UK analyst

What Iraq’s Christians want from the West is to say the plain truth: that there is ethnic cleansing of Christians in the region and it is ongoing, Dr Tim Stanley told a meeting at the UK’s parliament last Tuesday, 9 July.

The historian and columnist, working for UK daily newspaper The Telegraph, just returned from a visit to Iraq’s Nineveh Plains.

“If we don’t say what is really happening in the region, which is ethnic cleansing of both Christians and Yazidis, we allow Islamic State and other perpetrators to get away with it,” Stanley told the audience at the event, ‘The Global Persecution of Christian Minorities’, organised by the Henry Jackson Society, a British foreign-policy think tank.

Since Islamic State was pushed out of the region, displaced Iraqis have slowly started to return to their communities but continue to live in fear and they continue to be vulnerable. Pockets of IS fighters are still active and the group has said it started the fires that in recent weeks torched hundreds of acres of land and crops, “owned by infidels”, in northern Iraq.

Meanwhile, Iranian-backed militias have moved into areas previously under IS-control, discouraging people to trade with Christians, Stanley said.

In January, a UN team started investigations in the country to collect evidence of genocide and war crimes committed by Islamic State fighters, in order to take the perpetrators to court in Iraq. The UN has been reluctant to recognise the violence against Christians and Yazidis as genocide, despite pressure from civil society groups and some of its own member states such as the Netherlands.

‘Instruments of the West’

Those who have returned to their communities and want to leave, face challenges such as the western visa application processes, according to Stanley.

The US, under the Trump administration, has taken fewer Iraqi refugees in than it did during the Obama administration. Instead, it sent an aid package of US$35 million to the region to support Iraqi Christians and Yazidis who had suffered under IS occupation. The UK also has been slow on the uptake.

Stanley acknowledged that it’s not always a simple matter of putting pressure on governments to treat Christians fairly. Christians often are considered to be instruments of Western governments, and as such are regarded as a threat to national identity or security. The challenge, then, is to help Christians without exposing them to undue risk, he said.

For the UK government, this could mean including the topic of religious freedom in future trade negotiations, said Dr Matthew Rees, Head of Advocacy for Open Doors UK and Ireland. It is one of the policy recommendations the Christian religious-freedom charity has made to the country’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the back of an independent review of how the government department supports persecuted Christians.

“Just like climate change, the topic of religious freedom is not a one-party or single-leader issue but something to grow consensus around”, Rees said.

Pakistan: Islamic groups threaten Supreme Court judges ahead of Asia Bibi ruling

(World Watch Monitor) Radical religious groups in Pakistan have called for mass protests and threatened the judges of the country’s Supreme Court in Islamabad ahead of their ruling in the blasphemy case of Christian woman Asia Bibi.

The hardline Islamic party, the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), threatened the judges in a press conference on YouTube, saying that if Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, were to receive clemency, the justices would meet a “horrible” end, reported AFP.

Meanwhile another religious group, the Red Mosque in Islamabad, asked the Supreme Court to order that, if Asia Bibi is released, she would not be able to leave the country.

“Western forces are trying to get Asia Bibi out of the country but she should be hanged,” the petitioner, Hafiz Ihtesham Ahmed, told AFP.

The TLP also announced it would hold a rally on Friday, 12 October, and on social media radical voices call for Asia Bibi to be hanged.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court heard the much-delayed appeal of Asia Bibi, on Monday, 8 October. It did not announce its decision, saying it would ‘reserve judgment’ for several days or possibly weeks.

The story of Asia Bibi

Noreen received the death penalty in 2010 after she allegedly made derogatory comments about Islam’s prophet Muhammad during an argument with a Muslim woman.

In June 2009, Noreen, then about 38, was picking berries in the fields as a day labourer in Sheikhupura, outside Lahore in eastern Pakistan. It was hot. She brought water to a female co-worker, who objected that the touch of a Christian had made the water haram, or religiously forbidden for Muslims. The woman apparently told Noreen to convert to Islam in order to become purified of her ritual impurity. Noreen’s rejoinder was perceived as an insult to Islam. She was arrested, accused of blasphemy against the Prophet and the Qur’an, and has been in prison ever since.

The Muslim woman, with her sister, were the only two eyewitnesses in the case, but the defence failed to convince the appeals judges that their evidence lacked credibility.

In the Lahore High Court appeal hearing in October 2014, Bibi’s then-lawyer, Naeem Shakir, argued that the main complainant in the case, the local Muslim cleric Mohamed Salaam, had not heard Bibi blaspheme, and that his original complaint had been lodged only five days after the women’s quarrel. Shakir argued that, during her 2010 trial, the only reason given for this delay was “deliberation and consultation”, and said that Salaam had acknowledged this in court.

Salaam was filmed by an international film crew for a film about Bibi in 2014, saying that it is his religious obligation to defend the dignity of Muhammad and that is why he decided to be a witness before the court. He only heard Bibi allegedly confess to blasphemy when she had been brought before a village council several days after the quarrel.

Her other main accuser, Mohamed Imran, owner of the field in which Noreen worked, was not present at the time of the quarrel either; he was away from the village.

However, the High Court ruled that it had no choice but to let the conviction and death penalty stand, based on the way the country’s laws are written, and on what it characterised as an inept trial defence.

At the same time, the court asked Pakistan’s lawmakers to craft legislation that would empower trial courts to apply a test that would make future blasphemy convictions much more difficult to achieve.

Noreen’s lawyer then filed an appeal with Pakistan’s Supreme Court and in July 2015 it agreed it would hear Noreen’s case.

Commentators praised the Court for its courage to hear the appeal in the face of strong public sentiment against anyone seen to denigrate Islam, with some calling it a “historic day for Pakistan”.

However, the appeal stalled in late 2016 when one member of the three-judge panel recused himself.

In April 2018 Pakistan’s chief justice, Saqib Nisar, told Noreen’s lawyer, Saif-ul-Malook, that he would hear Asia’s appeal soon.

Since then Malook, who was the prosecution lawyer in the case of the murder of Punjab Governor Taseer, has been under 24-hours protection. Ahead of the hearing in Islamabad on 8 October he told AP News, “I have lost my health. I am a high blood pressure patient, my privacy is totally lost. You have to be in hiding,” as everyone knew his identity. “They look at this house and they know this is the home of a person who can be killed at any time by angry mullahs,” he said.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court is the last possibility for Noreen to see her death sentence repealed or she has to appeal to the President for mercy.

International attention

Bibi’s case has attracted global attention, much of it critical of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws, which critics contend are routinely abused as a pretext to settle personal scores.

In 2011 two prominent Pakistani politicians, Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, were assassinated after they spoke publicly in Bibi’s defence.

Following the killing of Taseer, Governor of Punjab, Bibi’s husband said she was “very afraid”. “She knows the Muslims have announced a price on her head and would go to any lengths to kill her,” he said. Authorities increased her security and moved her to an all-women facility, Multan Prison.

In May 2018 another politician who has championed the country’s minority communities, Ahsan Iqbal, survived an assassination attempt by a gunman protesting against the country’s blasphemy laws.

Pope Benedict XVI made a public plea for clemency and the EU’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Jan Figeľ, told Pakistani officials that the renewal of their export privileges to Europe would depend on the release of Asia Bibi.

  • June 2009  Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, mother of five, is arrested on charges of blasphemy
  • November 2010  Noreen convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. Her lawyer appeals verdict.
  • January 2011 Salmaan Taseer, governor of Punjab Province who supported Noreen and called for reform of the country’s blasphemy laws, is assassinated by one of his bodyguards. As a result authorities increase security for Noreen and she is moved to the all-women Multan Prison.
  • March 2011 Shahbaz Bhatti, Federal Minister for Minority Affairs who supported Noreen’s case and was outspoken critic of country’s widely condemned blasphemy laws, is assassinated.
  • October 2011 News emerges that Asia has been beaten by prison officer.
  • March 2014 Lahore High Court starts appeal hearing but case keeps circulating among several judges who postpone its hearing, allegedly for fear of reprisal from extremist elements.
  • October 2014 The Lahore High Court confirms Noreen’s death sentence
  • November 2014 Noreen’s lawyer files appeal with Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
  • February 2015 Noreen’s husband speaks out about how family’s lives are under constant threat following her conviction and sentencing five years ago.
  • July 2015 Supreme Court decides to hear Noreen’s appeal.
  • October 2015 Noreen is moved to solitary prison cell because of fears for her security after Supreme Court upholds sentence against former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s murderer.
  • October 2016 About 150 top Muslim clerics from radical Islamist group Sunni Tehreek call for Noreen to be hanged.
  • April 2017 Mufti Muhammad Haneef Qureshi renews call for Noreen’s execution.
  • October 2017 Noreen nominated for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
  • November 2017 Three European Parliament members visit Noreen’s family in Pakistan.
  • December 2017 The EU’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Jan Figeľ, tells Pakistani officials that renewal of export privileges to Europe depends on Noreen’s release.
  • February 2018 Noreen’s husband and daughter meet Pope Francis in the Vatican.
  • April 2018 Chief Justice Saqib Nisar announces he will hear Noreen’s appeal soon.
  • May 2018 Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s interior minister and supporter of the country’s minority communities, survives assassination attempt after meeting prevent her from Christians in his constituency.
  • October 8, 2018 Supreme Court hears Noreen’s case but delays ruling.
  • October 10, 2018 Radical religious groups threaten judges over possibility of releasing Noreen, and ask High Court to leaving the country.

 

Indonesia: Three churches closed in permits dispute

Members of one of the closed churches hold a sign that says: “Our Assemblies of God church has been sealed by the government.” (Photo: World Watch Monitor)

Three churches were closed in an Indonesian village last week amidst rumors Muslims were planning to protest against the churches’ presence because they did not have the required permits.

But a pastor from one of the affected churches in West Kenali village, Alam Barajo district, in Sumatra’s central Jambi province, told World Watch Monitor: “We had been worshipping here since 2004 and fulfilled all building license requirements. We have even built a good relationship with the local authorities. Yet the permit was not granted.”

“The rapid church growth in the area during the last decade may have caused restlessness among the majority-Muslim neighbourhood,” said the pastor, who leads an Assemblies God church.

“The rapid church growth in the area during the last decade may have caused restlessness among the majority-Muslim neighbourhood.”

The other two affected churches belong to the Huria Kristen Indonesia (HKI) and Gereja Methodist Indonesia (GMI) branches.

A local source, who wished to remain anonymous, said the churches were closed to prevent unrest ahead of a planned protest by supporters of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

“The village head filed a complaint with the higher authorities and rallied the support of radical group Islamic Defenders Front to hold protests against the churches,” the source said. “The day before the church closures, a letter had been circulated saying that a thousand Muslim residents would rally in front of the three churches on Friday, September 28. The government decided to seal the churches to prevent the commotion.”

The Indonesian Evangelical Fellowship (PGLII) and the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) released a statement, urging the government to uphold religious freedom, protect minorities and not give in to mass pressure.

PGI also sent a legal team to support the churches, reported VOA. “The local government keeps delaying the process to have the permit, or just reject it without any reasons,” PGI General Secretary Gomar Gultom said.

Jambi District Spokesman Abu Bakar told VOA the church closures were just a “temporary action” due to “administrative issues”.

Bakar also denied that there had been pressure from the FPI to close the churches and said that if they submitted the required documents, they would receive permits within a week.

‘Religious politicisation’

Paul Marshall, Wilson Professor of Religious Freedom at Baylor University, warned recently that Indonesia was likely see an increase in the “politicisation of religion” ahead of the 2019 elections.

“Much of this manipulation is done by people who are not especially religious,” he said at the Fourth Annual Southeast Asia Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Bangkok, in August.

He added: “What is most likely to lead to conflict is not robust, believing religion, but rather shallow religion that is used as a political identifier. The problem is usually not strong religion, but weak religion that is a strong source of identity.”

More than 1,000 churches have been closed or prevented from being built in Indonesia since a “religious harmony” law was passed in 2006, ordering minority religious groups to obtain the permission of the local majority group before building houses of worship, according to Human Rights Watch.

In Cilegon, a city in Banten, Java’s westernmost province, 21 churches registered under Cilegon’s Inter Church Cooperation Body (BKSAG) had all either been closed or were facing that threat, its President, Steven Polii, told World Watch Monitor in September last year. An historic agreement between local Islamic leaders and the government dictated that no churches are allowed in Cilegon, in order to preserve its Muslim identity, he said.

VOP Note: Indonesian Christians have contacted Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) asking that our Prayer Team pray for them. Please join us in lifting them up to the Lord.

Pakistan: Christians told they can’t have a church in Muslim-majority village

The church in Nayya Sarabah (Chak 336) village was built in 2012 (World Watch Monitor)

Christians in a village in Pakistan’s Punjab province have been told to remove every visible sign of Christianity from their church, six months after being forced to sign a form pledging they would no longer hold services, reports World Watch Monitor.

The 40 Christian families in Nayya Sarabah (Chak 336) village, part of Toba Tek Singh district near Faisalabad, haven’t held a service since before Christmas.

Muslim resident Hajji Muhammad Siddique told World Watch Monitor that, as “Muslims are in the majority in the village, we can’t allow a church here”.

“Now we are working with the civil administration to give a piece of land to Christians outside the village,” said Siddique, 73, who runs a dispensary. “When it is done, we will make the Christians write an agreement that they will sell this current church building or at least dismantle the church structure and crosses.”

“Most of the Christians of the village work as brick-kiln labourers,” he added. “It is only Rafaqat Masih, who, being a retired army personnel, is trying to be a leader and has helped build a church in the village.”

The church is run by Pastor Samuel Masih, but it is Rafaqat Masih, a union councillor for minorities, who has been at the forefront of efforts to resolve the matter.

“Muslims are in the majority in the village, so we can’t allow a church here.”

Most of the Christians are poor labourers. The church belongs to Full Gospel Assemblies, an evangelical group working in Pakistan, and was built on land belonging to 70-year-old Christian named Rafiq Masih.

“Rafiq is childless, so he bequeathed this property for the construction of a church building,” Rafaqat Masih told World Watch Monitor. “The construction began in 2012 and we had been holding worship services since then. But in December 2016 the local Muslims objected over it and filed an application against us in the local police station. At that time, a compromise was reached and we again started holding services. But, again, in December 2017, they submitted an application in the police station, after which we were called in and were told to sign an agreement.”

The police station in the nearby town of Rajana brought together Muslims and Christians of the village on 14 December 2017, and had them sign an agreement according to which the Christians would “hold religious ceremonies in their houses. There will be no programme in the church. If anyone will violate this agreement, then legal action will be taken. [Christians] will not gather in any house for a religious programme. If there will be any violation of this, legal action will be taken”.

That same month, the Muslims submitted an application to close down the church, and the local police and civil administration told the Christians that, as their church was not included on the official list of churches that must be provided with security on Sundays, they could no longer hold services.

(Due to the rise of terrorism, all gatherings in Pakistan are provided police security. Churches are provided security on Sunday or any other given day that Christians request police protection. However, in this case, the police told them that the church is not part of the authorised list of churches, so they cannot be provided security. Now, because security cannot be provided, they cannot come together. So in the name of security, they stopped the Christians from gathering in the church, and also from worshipping in any house.)

The Christians in the village have therefore not held a service this year, but have made frequent visits to the civil administration to either permit them to hold services in their church or to provide them with an alternative venue.

‘We are being forced to demolish the church’

Christian and Muslim villagers were called together for another meeting on Saturday, 2 June, held in the presence of Deputy Superintendent of Police Muhammad Tahir.

After the meeting, Rafaqat Masih told World Watch Monitor: “We are being forced to demolish the existing church structure and, in lieu of this, they would let us build a church on a piece of government land outside the village which is already dedicated for a school.

“They haven’t even given any documentary proof that this piece of land would be transferred to Christians. Then another issue is that we worked for several years to construct this church building. Now who is going to pay for building from scratch?”

Masih, who runs a small shop in the village, told World Watch Monitor that he had submitted an application to the Toba Tek Singh Deputy Commissioner for including the name of the church in the list of the churches which are provided security.

“The civil administration tells us that they cannot provide us security, so it is in our benefit that they have stopped us from holding a church service,” he said.

On 22 February, the Toba Tek Singh Deputy Commissioner wrote a letter to the district police chief, a copy of which World Watch Monitor has seen, saying: “Priest (sic) Samual (sic) and others of Chak No. 336/GB (Nia Saraba) Tehsil and District Toba Tek Singh has informed the [respectable] Deputy Commissioner that they have established a church in said village and the police has not permitted them to offer their prayers… I have been directed by the [respectable] Deputy Commissioner to convey you that the tension between both the parties/communities may cause an untoward situation. In view of the sensitivity of the issue, you are requested to please look into the matter at personal level and resolve the issue, to avoid any law and order situation, which may result in disturbing the peace and tranquillity of society.”

Deputy Superintendent Muhammad Tahir told World Watch Monitor that the Christians being forced to pledge to end services was not legal. “We are trying to amicably resolve this matter,” he said.

Rasheed Jalal, a member of the district council belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said the Christians were “not being treated equally”.

He said he had met with several senior government figures, including the Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Minority Affairs, National Assembly members and Muslim clerics, but that “nothing worked”.

“Christians are peace-loving people,” said Full Gospel Assemblies Principal Dr. Liaquat M. Qaiser. “We don’t desire any conflict. If the local Muslims do not want Christians worshipping among them, then they should provide them an alternative place. They are poor people and do not have resources to buy another place and build a church once again.”

According to the Pakistan’s constitution, a person’s security is the responsibility of the state. The constitution also provides special protections for religious minorities in religious, social and economic matters. However, contrary to these constitutional protections, churches are often forced to provide for their own security, which is primarily the responsibility of the state.

Taliban Faction Threatens More Attacks Against Christians in Pakistan – What you can do

Follow the link below the video to help to a be a part of the solution.

 

First, PRAY for our Pakistani brothers and sisters.

Then contact your Senators and representatives and ask them to act immediately. Other than humanitarian aid, no more U.S. funding until Pakistan greatly improves and shows lasting efforts to control violence and stop human rights abuses against Christians and other minorities, particularly seen with the blasphemy laws. If we unite as the Body, we can do more to protect them.

Contact Your Elected Officials Today!

To our Pakistani family in Christ: You are not forgotten.
HELP PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
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Pakistan Government Accused Of Tolerating Persecution Of Minorities

pakistan christian prays

Pakistani Christian girl prays

According to an international news agency the Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif’s government goes on with committing and tolerate the persecution of Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus, and Shiites. They assert that the government’s imposition of the oppressive blasphemy laws has privileged the religious fanatics.

The news agency claims that under these blasphemy laws 40 Pakistanis are currently jailed — predominantly anti-Ahmadi laws also seriously animate dangers to the religious-freedom abuses while providing opportunities to the religious extremists. They continue to criticize the Pakistani Government of giving a free hand to the murderer Shahbaz Bhatti, a Pakistani Christian and former Pakistani minister for interfaith harmony whereas the government has failed to bring his killers to justice.

They went on to say that the United States should go on to raise concerns about these killing of the religious minorities. The administration should also follow recommendations provided in the House-passed fiscal-year 2015 budget to prioritize any necessary foreign-aid reductions to target those countries that abuse religious freedoms.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) – an independent government organization that supervises religious freedom abroad. USCIRF and members of the House of Representatives have recommended that all three of these countries — China, Iran, and Pakistan — be listed by the U.S. State Department as Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) for religious freedom because of these and other atrocities.

The State Department has answered our calls on China and Iran in the past; it is time that Secretary John Kerry does the same regarding Pakistan. Secretary Kerry must press for Pakistani government leaders to protect religious freedom to stem its frightening spiral toward extremist violence and instability. USCIRF has recommended this designation, and congressional leaders have requested it. The Obama administration must improve and make protection religious freedom a pillar of its foreign policy. As the United States turns a blind eye, so too does the world. We must open our eyes now, act accordingly and show these governments and the world that these acts will not stand.

Source

American Doctor in Pakistan on Humanitarian Mission Assassinated

pakistan_map_400

Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar, an American cardiologist from Columbus, Ohio, was brutally killed in front of his wife and toddler son in eastern Pakistan this weekend.  Dr. Qamar was reportedly shot 10 times by one of two men on motorbike as he entered a cemetery to visit a family grave.  He was an Ahmadiyya Muslim, a religious community that faces severe governmental and social discrimination in Pakistan.  Dr. Qamar was in Pakistan on a humanitarian mission, providing free services to all those in need of medical care, regardless of religion.  He leaves behind a wife and three sons, ages 16, 6 and 2.

Pakistan’s constitution explicitly declares that Ahmadis are non-Muslims and denies them equal rights with other Pakistani citizens, which can create a climate of impunity surrounding attacks against Ahmadis.  The country’s draconian blasphemy laws further contribute to the problem.

The Christian woman,  Asia Bibi was denied her appeal hearing for the wrongful death sentence, this morning. Life in Pakistan grows harder each day for minorities, especially Christians.  Advancing towards religious freedom in Pakistan has taken many steps backward. There is a  pushing an all Islamic State and minorities are being stripped of their human rights, imprisoned or killed.

We are seeking to aid a Pakistani family suffering extreme persecution and now a false blasphemy charge. A charge wrongfully imposed on them due to speaking out for the religious rights of Pakistan’s minorities and for devoutly following the Christian life. They have done nothing wrong. They are loving and giving people, many times giving to suffering Muslims. What is the Muslims issue with them? It’s simple, they are active in the church and faithful Christians.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), co-chairs of the House Ahmadiyya Caucus, today released the following statement regarding the assassination of the American cardiologist:

Wolf said,

“Dr. Qamar’s assassination is symptomatic of an environment in Pakistan that is hostile to religious freedom at both the governmental and societal level.  Grievous violations routinely occur that especially impact religious minorities including Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus.  I have called on the State Department to designate Pakistan a Country of Particular Concern for these very reasons.  Dr. Qamar was an American citizen on a selfless humanitarian mission.  His grieving family must be given every assurance that America’s first freedom, religious freedom, will be a cornerstone of U.S. engagement with Pakistan, which to date it has not been.”

Speier said,

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar who was brutally killed simply for his faith.  Discrimination, hatred and violence toward the Ahmadiyya community has long been sanctioned by Pakistan and must be addressed by U.S. foreign policy. We cannot tolerate the cold-blooded killings of American citizens traveling abroad.  Dr. Qamar was a humanitarian silenced forever for selflessly caring for others regardless of religious differences.  Peace, education, pluralism, racial and gender equality are the hallmarks of the Ahmadi people and true religious freedom is an absolute essential human right.  I will continue to stand in solidarity with Ahmadiyya Muslims as they seek to live in a world free from hatred.”

Pray for the doctor’s family in the pain of grief due to a senseless act. Pray for the dark cloud to be lifted from Pakistan and for religious minorities suffering severe abuse. And may God have mercy of His faithful. In Jesus name, we pray.

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