Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Call to ban the Bible in Pakistan. Will Malaysia be next?

Will Malaysia be next? Is this too far fetched a situation? God have mercy!

Monday, June 6, 2011 (3:47 am)
By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News International Correspondent

Islamabad, Pakistan (Worthy News)-- Pakistani Christians are troubled by a Bible ban from radical Muslim clerics whose own prophet had never outlawed it.

Nevertheless, Muslim clerics recently asked the Supreme Court of Pakistan to rule that some scriptures have been added to the Bible and that they violate the Islamic nation's blasphemy laws by depicting biblical figures revered by Muslims as flawed; they allege that these additions were inserted to show the prophets guilty of "a variety of moral crimes, which undermine the sanctity of the holy figures."

Although Muslims accept the Pentateuch, the Psalms and the Gospels, many believe the rest of the Bible is a "corruption" of the original texts.

The clerics claimed their actions were in response to the burning of a Qur'an by Pastor Terry Jones, but local Islamists have become even more vocal after the targeted assasination of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by American troops while he was secretly living in Pakistan.

Naveed Walter, president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan, said Islamist clerics "usually attack individuals, groups, churches and communities of Christians, by falsely accusing them of blasphemy, but this time they are planning to ban even the Bible in Pakistan."

Although the Qu'ran instructs Muslims to respect the "people of the book", it also exhorts Muslims to fight Christians and Jews who don't accept Islam, until they pay a "jizra," or tribute tax as inferior dhimmis.

Pakistan: Islamist extremists say 'ban the Bible' By: John Pontifex

Posted: Monday, June 6, 2011 9:26 pm

Pakistan:  Islamist extremists say 'ban the Bible' | Bishop Sebastian Shaw, Pakistan. ban the Bible,Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi
Bishop Sebastian Shaw
A Pakistan Catholic bishop has described his people's distress after extremists demanded the Bible be banned and called on the country's Supreme Court to investigate "blasphemous" and "pornographic" passages.

Bishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore said the faithful were "very shocked" after Islamist political party Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islami informally petitioned the Supreme Court of Pakistan to declare certain Biblical passages "blasphemous".

At a press conference, party leader Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi called for the Bible to be banned and complained about passages in which prophets are described carrying out "a variety of moral crimes, which undermine the sanctity of the holy figures".

Speaking at a Lahore mosque, the clerics from Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islami said that if the Supreme Court failed to declare the offending texts "blasphemous", they would submit an application for the Bible to be formally banned in Pakistan.

Maulana Farooqi reportedly said that his lawyers were "preparing to ask the court to ban the book".

Responding to the press conference, Bishop Shaw referred to the increased tensions faced by the Church and warned of more trouble if Church leaders were to issue a strongly worded condemnation of the ban the Bible initiative.

The bishop told Aid to the Church in Need: "People are very shocked by this. We Christians are in Pakistan and we have a right to our Bible. It is a very old divine text. But if we want to make an issue out of it, it will certainly become one. We must be wise and instead ask people to pray for us, to remember us before God. What we need right now is prayers and patience."

He stressed that the campaign was unlikely to succeed, especially as the Bible is respected by the majority of Muslims.

In the press conference last week, Maulana Farooqi referred to "pornographic" Biblical passages where figures – revered by both Christianity and Islam – are described behaving immorally.

Extremists have referred to Biblical heroes such as David, who coveted a man's wife and so sent him to face certain death on the battle frontlines.

Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islami's ban the Bible initiative is the latest attempt by radicals to use the country's Blasphemy Laws to shield Islam from perceived insults.

Under the laws, desecration against the Qur'an carries a life sentence and Maulana Farooqi said the ban the Bible call was in response to US Pastor Terry Jones who oversaw the burning of the Islamic holy book at a Florida church in March.

Pakistan's Blasphemy Laws are linked to some of the country's worst violence this year including the murders of federal minorities minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, in March, and Salman Taseer, Governor of the Punjab, who openly criticised the legislation.

Urging calm, Bishop Shaw told Aid to the Church in Need that in calling for the Bible to be banned, the extremists were trying to provoke Christians.

He said: "Problems like this are happening one after the other. If we give the right response, the matter will die away just like any other debate that suddenly flares up."

In a statement, Church of Pakistan Bishop Dr Alexander John Malik of Lahore said that agreeing to the extremists' demands to ban the Bible would be a violation of religious freedom as guaranteed by the constitution and said the militants' campaign was sowing discord among different communities.

Fr Andrew Nisari, parish priest of Lahore's Sacred Heart Catholic Cathedral, told ACN: "Calling for the Bible to be burnt is very hurtful to us. People were very upset about it and from the pulpit I asked them not to be angry and emotional."

He told how a Muslim extremist had burnt a copy of the Bible at the cathedral. Fr Nisari said that during the incident, in March, cathedral guards had stopped the man on his way to the cathedral where he had said he wanted to burn the Bible and so he carried out the Bible-burning at the cathedral gates. Police have since pressed charges against the man and the case is ongoing.

Fr Nisari said: "Life for us is not easy. The only way anyone can really begin to understand what it is like for us in Pakistan is to actually be here experiencing what we experience."

Source: ACN

Call to Ban the Bible Troubles Pakistan’s Embattled Christians

Thursday, June 02, 2011
By Patrick Goodenough
Pakistan christians
Pakistani Christians protest after hundreds of Muslims burned and looted Christian homes in the city of Gorja in an August 2009 rampage sparked by allegations that a Qur’an had been defaced. (AP Photo)
(CNSNews.com) – Pakistani Christians reacted with dismay Thursday to campaign by radical Muslim clerics to have the Bible declared blasphemous and banned, but some said the community should respond calmly, without fear, trusting God to protect His word.
Muslims should not blame Pakistan’s Christian minority for the actions of one misguided pastor in Florida, said one activist, who also noted that even Mohammed, the 7th century Muslim prophet, had not outlawed the Bible.
A group of Muslim clerics has asked the Supreme Court of Pakistan to determine that certain passages of the Bible violate the country’s blasphemy laws, because they depict some biblical figures – whom Muslims revere as “Islamic prophets” – as flawed or immoral.
If the court does not make the declaration, the campaigners said, they would lodge an formal application for the Bible to be banned in its entirety.
The group, led by Abdul Rauf Farooqi of the Islamist party JUI-S (Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Sami-ul Haq group), says its initiative is in response to the burning of a Qur’an at the small Florida church headed by Terry Jones.
“This move by the JUI-S is in reaction to Terry Jones’ action of burning the Qur’an,” said Asif Aqeel, director of the Lahore-based Community Development Initiative, an affiliate of European Center for Law and Justice.
“Pakistani society, even JUI-S, should understand that Pakistani poor and illiterate [Christian] community should not be punished for the act of any individual living abroad,” he told CNSNews.com.
“We are not related to Terry Jones, who should not be even called a pastor due to lack of wisdom and biblical understanding.”
Aqeel said JUI-S should remember that, even during the times of Mohammed and the subsequent caliphs and other Muslim rulers, the Bible was not banned “despite the fact that all of them knew that the Bible had different viewpoint on several things.”
There was no “religious reasoning” behind the demand for a ban, he added.
The Rev. Arif Siraj, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan, said that there have been attempts to challenge biblical truth ever since the birth of Christianity.
It was the responsibility of Christians to act in the light of biblical teachings, he said. “It is God’s word so He will take care of it.”
Siraq said Christians should understand the essence of the Bible and be encouraged to pray in the face of the current circumstances, rather than be fearful.
If the JUI-S initiative takes hold and gathers momentum, he said, “then we will peacefully protest as we have been doing in the past and we will also pray that God will make Pakistani people understand the efforts of the Christians in developing this nation.”
Naveed Walter, the president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan, a non-governmental organization advocating against the blasphemy laws, was taken aback by the latest move by radicals.
“I am shocked to hear about the new Islamists’ plans to attack the Christians, now in a different way,” he told CNSNews.com.
“They usually attack individuals, groups, churches and communities of Christians, by falsely accusing them of blasphemy,” he said. “But this time they are planning to ban even the Bible in Pakistan. The extremists have crossed the all limitations of extremism.”
Walter said Christians were hopeful the Supreme Court would not accept an application calling for a Bible ban, should JUI-S lawyers try to submit one.
Violent reaction feared
Islam’s view of the Bible is open to debate and interpretation. In places (such as sura 29:46-47) the Qur’an appears to direct Muslims to respect the Bible and those who believe in it. But elsewhere (such as sura 9:29-31) it exhorts Muslims to fight those – including Christians and Jews – who do not accept Islam, until they pay tribute and accept inferior (dhimmi) status.
The JUI-S is closely associated with the Taliban and other violent Islamic groups.
According to Aqeel, it is not a prominent political faction, though considered influential due to its historical relationship with the Taliban. The “Sami-ul Haq” in its name is the head of a madrassa that has been called the Taliban’s launching pad, with Mullah Omar and other senior Taliban figures having studied there.
As a federal senator, Sami-ul Haq played a leading role in passage of a law in 1991 enforcing shari’a in Pakistan, Aqeel recalled.
Given that background, he said, the group’s anti-Bible campaign had to be taken seriously.
“If the petition is filed, the Christian community may not be able to handle the case due to lack of sufficient legal acumen and due to the sensitivity and violent reactionary attitude of the Muslim majority in Pakistan,” Aqeel said.
How the court would likely respond was a different matter, as it would be aware of the fact that the case would impact Pakistan’s international image.
Aqeel predicted that the court would either delay indefinitely any action on the petition, or “decide in favor of the Christians.”

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