Sunday, January 29, 2017

Video - Anti Trump Protests JFK, LA lax, Chicago Airport After Muslim Ban Trump muslim imigration ban

Video - ‘Let them in!’: Protesters rally at JFK against Trump’s refugee ban

Video - Police deploy teargas at Seattle airport during rally opposing Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’

Video - The Daily Show - Welcome to President Trump's Reality

Video - Monologue: WTF Is Going On? | Real Time with Bill Maher

Chelsea Clinton attends NYC protest against Trump immigration ban

Chelsea Clinton attended a massive protest against President Trump’s immigration ban in New York City on Sunday afternoon.
Chelsea, the daughter of Trump’s democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, and former President Bill Clinton, tweeted from the protest.
“#NewYork #NoBanNoWall,” she wrote alongside a photo of the protest, which included one sign with her mother's “Love trumps hate” slogan from the 2016 campaign.
The former first daughter used Twitter on Saturday and Sunday to retweet posts against Trump’s 90-day ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing that he would attend the march in Battery Park in New York City on Sunday afternoon.
Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for demonstrators on Saturday evening.
“I stand with the people gathered across the country tonight defending our values & our Constitution. This is not who we are,” she tweeted late Saturday evening.
Chelsea Clinton attends NYC protest against Trump immigration ban .

Clinton attended a massive protest against President Trump’s immigration ban in New York City on Sunday afternoon. Chelsea, the daughter of Trump’s democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, and former President Bill Clinton, tweeted from the protest. “#NewYork #NoBanNoWall,” she wrote alongside a photo of the protest, which included one sign with her mother's “Love trumps hate” slogan from the 2016 campaign.

 The former first daughter used Twitter on Saturday and Sunday to retweet posts against Trump’s 90-day ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing that he would attend the march in Battery Park in New York City on Sunday afternoon. Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for demonstrators on Saturday evening. “I stand with the people gathered across the country tonight defending our values & our Constitution. This is not who we are,” she tweeted late Saturday evening.

 Thousands of protesters gathered at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport in New York on Saturday night to protest Trump’s executive order, which resulted in several refugees and foreign visa holders being detained at the airport. Ten people were still detained there airport as of Sunday afternoon. Protests continued to erupt across the U.S. on Sunday. Hundreds gathered outside the White House on Sunday to protest the executive order while Trump and White House staff watched the film "Finding Nemo." Trump signed an executive order Friday to require thorough vetting of refugees coming to the U.S. The order also prohibits Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. for an indefinite amount of time.

US protests grow over Trump 'extreme vetting' travel ban

Protests and legal challenges to US President Donald Trump's executive order restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries have spread. Canada is to offer temporary residency to those stranded by the ban.
US-Einreiseverbot gegen Muslime: Widerstand in den USA (Reuters/B. Snyder)
Protesters gathering in Boston
Tens of thousands of people turned out again on Sunday across the US to protest President Donald Trump's executive order that limits immigration for 90 days.
In Battery Park, within sight of the Statue of Liberty in New York, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York told a crowd of 10,000 people that the Trump order was un-American and ran counter to the country's core values.
US-Einreiseverbot gegen Muslime: Widerstand in den USA (Picture-Alliance/AP Photo/K. Willens)
Protesters in New York near the Statue of Liberty
In Washington, thousands rallied at Lafayette Square near the White House, chanting: "No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here." A number of protesters left the White House area and marched along Pennsylvania Avenue, stopping at the Trump International Hotel where they shouted: "Shame, shame, shame."
More than 10,000 people gathered in Boston (main photo) to hear speakers including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a leader of the Democratic Party's liberal wing.
Legal reaction
Trump's order limits immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and stops the resettlement of refugees for 120 days.
However, on Sunday, Trump announced that the US would be issuing visas to all countries once secure policies have been put in place over the next 90 days.
In an official written statement issued by the White House, rather than a direct tweet from the president, Trump said "To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting," Trump said. "This is not about religion, this is about terror and keeping our country safe."
Canada's Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced on Sunday that people stranded in the country because of the travel ban would be offered temporary residence. The minister said that the Trump administration had given assurances that Canadians with dual nationality would not be affected by the ban.
Judges in Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington state joined New York in blocking federal authorities from enforcing the order but lawyers acting for people covered by the order said some authorities had been unwilling to follow the rulings.
Meanwhile, fifteen attorneys general from mostly Democrat states, including California, New York and Washington DC, issued a statement condemning the ban, vowing to fight what they called a "dangerous" and "unconstitutional" order.
Call for a review
The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations  committee, Bob Corker, said Trump's order had been "poorly implemented" and he called for a review: "We all share a desire to protect the American people, but this executive order has been poorly implemented, especially with respect to green card holders."
"The administration should immediately make appropriate revisions, and it is my hope that following a thorough review and implementation of security enhancements that many of these programs will be improved and reinstated," Corker said in a statement on Sunday.
However, an administration official said on Sunday that "nothing had changed."
"All three of President Trump's executive orders remain in full effect and all three of President Trump's executive orders are being enforced by the departments of state, homeland security, justice and all other relative agencies across the federal government," the official added.
Saudi Arabia call
Saudi Arabia's King Salman agreed to support safe zones for Syrian refugees, during a phone call with President Trump on Sunday.
In a joint statement after the call, the leaders said they had agreed on the importance of strengthening joint efforts to fight the spread of so-called "Islamic State" (IS) militants. The White House statement said the two leaders also agreed on the need to address "Iran's destabilizing regional activities."
President Trump "requested and the King agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, as well as supporting other ideas to help the many refugees who are displaced by the ongoing conflicts," the statement said.

Trump banned refugees on Holocaust Remembrance Day. That says everything

Cecillia Wang

In 1939, the German ocean liner St Louis and its 937 passengers, almost all Jewish refugees, were turned away from the port of Miami and sent back to Europe. Of those passengers, 254 were murdered in the Holocaust. The US government turned away those refugees, so heartbreakingly close to safety – and also restricted Jewish immigration and instituted new vetting procedures – because of rampant overblown fears that the Nazis might smuggle spies and saboteurs in among the Jewish refugees.
On Friday, which was Holocaust Remembrance Day, the White House put out a statement that failed to mention the 6 million Jews who were exterminated by the Nazis. Hours later, Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending all refugee resettlement for 120 days and indefinitely suspending the resettlement of refugees from Syria.
In addition to banning Syrian refugees, the president ordered a ban on all entries of the nationals of seven majority-Muslim countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, for 90 days, and provided that the ban might be extended and that additional countries might be added to that list.
Trump’s executive order on Friday is a major step toward carrying out his campaign threat to ban the admission of Muslims into the US. Tellingly, Friday’s order authorizes the homeland security secretary to admit refugees on a “case by case” basis, notwithstanding the 120-day suspension, for people of a minority religion in their home countries. Trump announced during his press conference that his order will help Christians to enter the US. In effect, Trump has barred Muslims from entering the US, while favoring the entry of Christians. One of the tenets upon which our country was founded is that religion is our own business and not the government’s.
We have freedom of belief. We do not have religious litmus tests for participation in society. Trump’s order is anathema to those founding principles. It violates the first amendment’s establishment clause, which prohibits the government from preferring or disfavoring any religion. Trump’s anti-Muslim policy also violates the equal protection clause, the part of the 14th amendment that guarantees that everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law.

Trump’s orders are immoral as well as unconstitutional. He is barring the entry of modern-day counterparts of the passengers of the St Louis – children injured in Syria’s terrible and brutal civil war, who are at imminent risk of being killed. And Trump’s order is a slap in the face to the millions of Americans who uphold our best traditions of welcoming the stranger seeking refuge.
Trump’s policy is also foolish. Former senior US military commanders, diplomats and homeland security officials, both Democrats and Republicans, have publicly stated that a block on refugees from Syria and other Muslim countries is contrary to US security interests because it feeds the Isis narrative that there is a war between Islam and the west and that Muslims are not welcome in the US.
Moreover, as demonstrated in ACLU litigation last year, only the most vulnerable Syrian refugees are resettled in the US and that only occurs after vigorous security screening by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI, the Department of Defense, the Department of State and US Customs and Border Protection. Among those who may barred from entering the US is Hameed Khalid Darweesh, an Iraqi man who worked as an interpreter for the US army’s 101st airborne division. According to Brandon Friedman, a former Obama administration official who commanded a platoon during the invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi man “spent years keeping US soldiers alive in combat in Iraq”. He arrived at New York’s JFK airport on Friday evening and was detained.
The ACLU along with the International Refugee Assistance Project, the National Immigration Law center and Yale Law School’s Jerome N Frank Legal Services Organization, as well as the firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, filed suit early this morning.
We are a diverse society, built largely on the sweat and ingenuity of immigrants and refugees. American Muslims, immigrants and US-born alike, are part of the fabric of this nation and part of what makes America great. As US businesses, investors and universities have pointed out, American Muslims are our neighbors, friends and colleagues. They are us. Trump’s ban separates American families and deprives our country of the contributions that these newcomers, and their children and grandchildren, will make as Americans.
Nearly 80 years ago, US government officials, backed by the deliberately stoked fears of refugees, turned refugees away at our shores and sent men, women and children back to their deaths.
Today Americans look back in shame at that moral, political and legal failure – even as our president repeats the mistakes of the past. We are better than today’s executive order, and we must rise up and insist that America live up to our best ideals and not our worst fears.

Trump's cruel, illegal refugee executive order

Erwin Chemerinsky

The new refugee policy announced by President Trump on Friday is unconstitutional and inhumane. It is also completely unnecessary.
Trump’s executive order suspends the entry of refugees into the United States for 120 days. The order also indefinitely stops the admission of Syrian refugees and for 90 days bars individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries:  Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Possibly due to poor drafting, the Department of Homeland Security said the order applies to green card holders reentering the United States. It has already resulted in chaos as travelers have been kept off flights to the United States or stranded at airports.
On Saturday night, a federal judge in New York issued a temporary stay, allowing green card or visa holders detained at airports to enter the country. The judge declared that the challengers have a “strong likelihood” of prevailing in showing that Trump’s order violates due process and equal protection.
To start, it’s illegal to bar individuals from entering the country based on nationality. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 explicitly says that no person can be “discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence.” This act was adopted to eliminate the prior practice of immigration quotas from specific countries. Indeed, in signing the legislation, President Lyndon Johnson said that “the harsh injustice” of the national-origins quota system had been “abolished.” 
The Trump policy is unconstitutional discrimination based on religion.
Absent a specific authorization by Congress, the government cannot discriminate based on nationality or place of residence, which is exactly what Trump ordered.
Trump supporters point to an earlier law, adopted in 1952, that allows the president to “suspend the entry” of “any class of aliens” that he finds are detrimental to the interest of the United States. But that was superseded by the 1965 statute. Besides, the 1952 law does not allow the president to remove those who are lawfully present (such as visa holders at airports).
Furthermore, Trump’s order unconstitutionally discriminates on the basis of religion. Under the 1st Amendment, the government may not favor one religion over others. Although Trump’s executive order does not expressly exclude Muslims, that is obviously its purpose and its effect as it bars entry to individuals from predominantly Muslim countries. It also instructs Homeland Security, after the 120-day period, to prioritize refugee claims “made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” (Emphasis mine.)
What does that mean? Trump told Christian Broadcast News that he intended to give priority to Christians. The Constitution does not allow such religious discrimination or permit the government to assume that a person is more likely to be dangerous because of his or her religion, national origin or race.
Barring individuals fleeing persecution from entering the U.S. is simply inhumane. Adding irony to injury, Trump’s executive order was issued on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which should have been an occasion to atone for turning away refugees during the 1930s — some of whom died in concentration camps.  For example, in 1939, the United States turned away the St. Louis, a boat filled with refugees, many of them German Jews. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 254 passengers from the St. Louis died in the Holocaust.
Like many Jews, I had relatives die in the Holocaust because they could not get out of Nazi-occupied Europe and no other country would take them.
One of the most astounding aspects of Trump’s executive order is that he seems to have singled out countries where he has no business interests, while giving a reprieve to nearby nations Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, among others, where the Trump Organization is active.
The order is also nonsensical in that foreigners from the seven listed nations killed exactly zero Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and the end of 2015, according to the Cato Institute. None of the terrorists from the 9/11 attacks or the Boston Marathon bombing or the San Bernardino shooting or the Orlando, Fla., massacre came from the seven countries listed. The home countries of those responsible were not included.
There is no indication, moreover, that refugees pose a special threat or that the existing screening procedures are inadequate. Syrian refugees in the United States have not been linked to any terrorist acts. 
Syrians are fleeing the violence of a civil war and Islamic State terrorism. The United States has done far too little to help – having taken some 15,000 refugees so far – and the Trump executive order puts a stop to even that.
Although the president has broad powers in the domain of immigration, he does not have unlimited authority. The president cannot order removal of those who are lawfully present and cannot violate federal law or the Constitution. Trump’s order does exactly that. The Saturday night stay helps the green card holders immediately affected, but does not undo the action. If the Trump administration does not reverse itself, Congress and the federal courts must step in.
Erwin Chemerinsky is dean and Raymond Pryke Professor of 1st Amendment Law at the UC Irvine School of Law.

Who Hasn’t Trump Banned? People From Places Where He’s Done Business.

President Trump’s executive order banning travel to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries is being rightly challenged in the courts for, among other things, its unconstitutional interference with free exercise of religion and denial of due process. Overlooked in the furor is another troubling aspect of the situation: President Trump omitted from his ban a number of other predominantly Muslim nations where his company has done business. This adds further illegitimacy to one of the most arbitrary executive actions in our recent history, and raises significant constitutional questions.
The seven countries whose citizens are subject to the ban are relatively poor. Some, such as Syria, are torn by civil war; others are only now emerging from war. One thing these countries have in common is that they are places where the Trump organization does little to no business.
By contrast, other neighboring Muslim countries are not on the list, even though some of their citizens pose just as great a risk — if not greater — of exporting terrorism to the United States. Among them are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. A vast majority of people living in these countries, like the people living in the seven subject to the immigration ban, are peaceful and law abiding. But these three countries have exported terror to the United States in the past. They accounted for 18 of the 19 terrorists who perpetrated the Sept. 11 attack on American soil (an attack which was directed by another Saudi, Osama Bin Laden, with the assistance of an Egyptian, Ayman al-Zawahri).
These countries, unlike those subject to the ban, are ones where Donald Trump has done business. In Saudi Arabia, his most recent government financial disclosure revealed several limited liability Trump corporations. In Egypt, he had two Trump companies registered. In the United Arab Emirates, he had licensed his name to a Dubai golf resort and a luxury residential development and spa. Some of these entities have since been closed, and others remain active.
A look at other nations with large Muslim populations only reinforces this troubling pattern. Turkey, India and the Philippines could all pose similar risks as the banned countries of origin that concern the president. Yet Mr. Trump has done business in all three places. They, too, are omitted from his list.
Our point is not, of course, that any of these other countries should be added. A country-specific ban, which experts say is an ineffective way to combat terrorism, should not exist. Our government should instead screen all immigrants for potential links to crime or terrorism, as it has long done. Discrimination based on national origin is a thinly veiled attempt to discriminate on the basis of religion. And indeed, President Trump has admitted that he wants to prioritize the settling of Christian refugees.
The arbitrary and discriminatory nature of this order is bad enough; but if the president is also considering payoffs to the Trump organization, it’s much worse.
As we have pointed out in a lawsuit we have filed against the president in his official capacity, payments to the president are not only unethical but unconstitutional if they come from foreign governments or entities controlled by foreign governments, such as sovereign wealth funds and state owned banks. The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution prohibits anybody holding a position of trust with the United States government, including the president, from receiving economic benefits from business dealings with foreign governments. Without President Trump’s tax returns and other information about his privately held businesses, we do not know the extent of the economic benefits he receives from governments of countries that pose a terrorism risk but are not on his immigration ban list. What we do know is that President Trump has generally refused to divest himself of his businesses, to disclose foreign government benefits coming into those businesses and to release his tax returns, and has insisted that simply because he is president, as opposed to some lower official, he “has no conflict of interest.”
And now, only a week into President Trump’s term, we see the devastating consequences of this conflict of interest. It appears that immigrants from countries that can afford to do business with the Trump organization are free to come and go from the United States. Immigrants from countries that cannot afford such transactions may very well be detained at the airport and sent home, where some may perish.
After the election we often heard the phrase “to the victor belong the spoils.” But there are ethical and constitutional limits to that maxim. In this case, an already suspect immigration ban is subject to yet more doubt because President Trump may be looking to his business interests at the same time as he makes decisions about human beings who want to come to America to study, earn a living, avoid persecution and in some instances, to survive.

Malala 'Heartbroken' Over Trump's Ban On 'Defenseless' Refugees

Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai has decried U.S. President Donald Trump's orders barring refugees and immigrants from Syria and a raft of other Muslim countries.
"I am heartbroken that today President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers, and fathers fleeing violence and war," said Malala, who the Taliban shot in the head in 2012 because she pushed for the education of girls in Pakistan.
After a struggle to survive, she was named the world's youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner.
"I am heartbroken that America is turning its back on a proud history of welcoming refugees and immigrants -- the people who helped build your country, ready to work hard in exchange for a fair chance at a new life," she said.
Trump on January 27 imposed an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees while imposing temporary bans on refugees from other countries and immigration from Syria, Iraq, Iran, and other specific Muslim countries.
"I am heartbroken that Syrian refugee children, who have suffered through six years of war by no fault of their own, are singled out for discrimination," Yousafzai said.
"I ask President Trump not to turn his back on the world's most defenseless children and families."

ملاله: امريکا دې د کډوالو مخه نه نيسي

د نوبل جایزې ګټونکې ملالې يوسفزۍ د امریکايي ولسمشر له خوا پر هغه فرمان نيوکې کړي چې له مخې يې تر نامعلوم وخت پورې امریکا ته د شامي کډوالو په ورتګ بنديز لګولی.
ملالۍ يوسفزۍ ويلي: ((زما زړه مات شو چې ولسمشر ټرمپ د هغو ماشومانو، میندو او پلرونو پر مخ دروازه تړي چې له جګړو او ناخوالو تښتي. امریکا د کډوالو او پناه غوښتونکو د هرکلي په برخه کي خپل ویاړلي تاریخ ته شا وګرځوله.))
هغې له ټرمپ څخه غوښتنه وکړه چې د نړۍ تر ټولو بې وسه ماشومانو او کورنیو ته دې خپلې دروازې نه بندوي. ملاله یوسفزۍپه ۲۰۱۲ کال کې له دې کبله په سوات کې طالبانو پر سر په ګولۍ ووېشته چې د جينکو لپاره يې تعليم غوښت. خو تر اوږدې مودې درملني وروسته یې بېرته خپلې لارې ته دوام ورکړ او په نړۍ کې تر ټولو ځوانه د نوبل جایزه ګټونکې شوه.
د امریکا نوي ولسمشر ډونلډ ټرمپ د پروني فرمان له مخې د اوو اسلامي هيوادونو پنا غوښتونکي د دریو میاشتو لپاره نشي ورتللی، او د ځينو نورو لپاره به د کډوالۍ پروسه ډيره سختيږي. وايټ هاوس ويلي دي چې په هغو هيوادونو کې ایران، عراق، لیبیا، سومالیا، سوډان، شام او یمن شامل دي.
ټرمپ د يو بل فرمان له مخې له هيواده بهر د امريکا کډوالو پروګرام هم څلورو مياشتو لپاره ځنډولی چې د شام، عراق، افغانستان او پاکستان پر کډوالو به اغيز وکړي. نوموړي امريکا ته له نړۍ څخه د ورتلونکو کډوالو شميره تر پنځوسو زرو کسانو پورې محدوده کړې ده. ټرمپ په شام کې ميشتو عيسايانو لپاره استثنا ورکړي چې د ده په خبره هغو سره په هيواد کې ښه چلند نه کيږي.
د نوي فرمان په اړه ټرمپ وويل چې د سخت دريځو اسلامي ترهګرو امريکا ته د ورتګ مخنيوي لپاره جدي پلټنو ګامونه پورته کوي. هغه زياته کړه چې له هغو هيوادونو به کسان امريکا ته وغواړي چې له دوی سره مرستې وکړياو امريکايانو سره مينه ولري.
د انساني حقونو ډلو دا ګامونو توپیري چلند او غير آييني کار بللی دي چې پکې يو ځانګړي مذهب په نښه شوی دی.
د امريکن سيول لبرټيز يونين مشر ويلي دي چې دا ګامونه له مسلمانانو سره د امتيازي سلوک په مانا ده. د امريکايي مسلمانانو يوې ټولنې مشر احمد رهاب وايي چې د دغو فرمانونو پرضد به عدالت ته ځي. نوموړي اي ايف پي خبري اژانس ته ويلي چې په فرمانونو کې يوازې د يوې عقيدي خلک په نښه شوی دی.
بلخوا ډيموکريټ ګوند هم دغه فرمانونه غندلي دي او ويلي يې دي چې دې سره به د امريکا شهرت ته زيان ورسيږي. خو د ډونلډ ټرمپ ګوند د هغه د فيصلو ستاينه کړي او ويلي يې دي چې دي سره به د سخت دريځه اسلامي دولت وسله والې ډلې يا داعش د ګواښونو مخنيوی وشي.
خو د عراق پارليمانې غړي وايي چې دغو ګامونو سره به د امريکا لخوا عراقي ولس ته ښه پيغام و نه رسيږي.


Banned terrorist outfits and some Salafi Wahhabi organizations have joined hands to defend Saudi Wahhabi monarchy in Pakistan in collaboration with the Rabita al Alam al Islami of Saudis.

Banned ASWJ (Sipah-e-Sahaba) is also an ally of Pakistan Ulema Council of Tahir Ashrafi and Islamic Relief Organisation in this alliance that is committed to defend the Saudi monarchy. 

These outfits vowed to defend an anti-Islam regime of Saudi Arabia when they gathered at a reception in honour of Abdul Rehman Bin Zaid, deputy secretary general of the Saudi Rabita Alam Islami. 

Fazlur Rehman Khalil, Aurangzeb Farooqi and Khadim Dhilloon are those leaders of organisations which Pakistani state has banned for their involvement in terrorist activities and they too attended the reception and allied them with pro-Saudi grouping.

Afghanistan - Scores of Nangarhar Residents in Daesh ‘Custody’

Some tribal elders in Nangarhar have accused government of neglecting to secure the safe release of hostages kidnapped by Daesh in the past year.
A number of residents in the eastern province of Nangarhar on Sunday said dozens of residents from Achin and Pachiragam districts are being held in Daesh custody and that no significant efforts have been made by government to secure their release. They said that Daesh has taken dozens of residents hostage over the past year. “Government has done nothing, the tribal elders have also held talks with Daesh militants and there are hopes that these hostages are released. However none of them have so far been released by Daesh,” said a member of Nangarhar provincial council Zabiullah Ezmarai. “Mothers lost their children in Pachiragam, they do not have information about whether they are still alive or dead and government is doing nothing in this respect,” said a resident of Khogyani district, Farhad.
“They also took hostages in Achin, all people must be mobilized against Daesh,” another resident, Khan Mohammad, said. Meanwhile, some tribal elders in Nangarhar have accused government of neglecting the safe release of these hostages from Daesh custody. “Soldiers render sacrifices and leaders do not value their sacrifices. Every day they said that Daesh are killed, but we are surprised that this small group still exists and increases day by day,” said tribal elder, Malik Shah Zaman.
But local officials in Nangahar have rejected the claims and said that security forces have tried to free these hostages from Daesh. “Daesh militants have again tried to capture a religious scholar and an army soldier. But local police rescued them and security forces are still trying to free the remaining hostages,” said Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the Nangarhar governor. This comes two weeks after Daesh captured at least 20 religious scholars in Nangarhar - so far there have been no reports about their fate.

Sardar Ali Takkar - مه درومه ـ علي خان

Music Video - Laila O Laila - Rostam Mirlashari

Non-Muslims in Pakistan: living in a state of fear

By Maham Javaid

When Martin Javed Michael reached Joseph Colony on the evening of March 8, 2013, he could smell fear in the air. The 116-house strong Christian residential neighbourhood in Lahore’s Badami Bagh area was eerily silent. The windows were boarded up and doors padlocked. It was as if the residents of the colony had been told that a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, was about to strike their houses so they must evacuate. But how can a padlock protect your house from a hurricane, wondered Michael.
As the head of the Pakistan Minorities Movement, a non-government organisation working to protect the rights of non-Muslim Pakistanis, he has been a frequent visitor to the colony and was friends with many of its residents. But on that day he could spot none of his friends there. It seemed that no one was around except that Michael knew that the there were people there, behind those boarded up windows and locked doors. Some of them, indeed, had called him for help. Standing in the ominous darkness that had engulfed the neighbourhood, he looked around until he saw the familiar face of Liaqat Masih peeking through a window. Liaqat, who ran a machine-repair workshop on the main road outside the colony, let Michael in his house.
Liaqat was the only one at home; his wife and children had gone to his sister’s house in Shahdara, a working class residential area several kilometres to the north of Joseph Colony. He quickly told Michael about the events of the last two days and then respecting the urgency of the moment they rushed to another house situated at the entrance of the colony.

The house at the entrance belonged to Saawan Masih. Outside it, on the main road running along Joseph Colony, lay a singed billiard table. A crowd had formed around the remains of the table. Someone asked why Saawan owned a billiard table in the first place. Someone else wondered how the table had been pulled out through the small entrance of his house. But no one asked the most relevant question: Why had the table been burnt?
Perhaps, everyone knew the answer already.
Saawan, a 35-year-old sanitation worker with the municipal corporation and the father of three children, was being referred to as a lad – this could have been because the elders of the community had seen him grow up so they still regarded him as a child as most elders lovingly do. As Michael and others were talking about what could happen next, Saawan and Chaman Masih, his father, came out of the house. Under their breaths, everyone muttered that Chaman was doing the right thing - if he gave up his son to the police then the primary reason for the brewing storm would go away and Joseph Colony and its tense residents could breathe easy.
From 2011 to 2012 there were 32 non-Muslims kidnapped for ransom, out of which 25 were Hindu. The kidnappings were committed countrywide with 17 in Sindh, eight in Balochistan, four in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and three in Punjab. Source: National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) The local police, however, did not seem to think that way. Once at the police station, Michael asked Baber Bakht, the investigating officer, to call the complainants against Saawan as well as those who had raced to Joseph Colony earlier that day after Jumma prayers to hurl insults at the Christians and those who had pulled out Saawan’s billiard table to burn it. But the official refused. He told Michael that those people – mostly residents of Shiekhabad, a Muslim neighbourhood two streets away from Joseph Colony -- were enraged and it would no good could come out of inviting them for talks right now. Michael did not give up; he asked if Bakht could at least assure the Muslims of Saawan’s arrest? He was optimistic that the information would give them a sense of satisfaction. Bakht promised to do what he could.
The rest of Michael’s night was spent in or around the police station, convincing law enforcement personnel to develop a channel of communication with the Sheikhabad Muslims. But as the night grew darker, fear among the residents of Joseph Colony became stronger. By dawn, they had realised that giving up Saawan had not solved the problem. The confirmation came when the police told them that they “should all leave until the situation calms down.” Officials at the police station warned them that their refusal to leave could “create a situation we won’t be able to control.” But since they were promised that their houses would be protected, the Christians chose to heed to the warning. Before long every one of them had left Joseph Colony to join their families spread across Lahore in search of refuge.
They knew what could happen if they had stayed put. In August 2009, Christians living in Gojra, a town known for producing many world class hockey players and located about 160 kilometres to the southwest of Lahore, had suffered a mob attack that torched and razed 40-odd houses and a couple of churches before burning an entire Christian family to death inside their house. The residents of Joseph Colony knew full well that the police had done nothing to protect the Gojra Christians from the deadly attack. The law enforcement officials, indeed, stood by as the mob “took revenge” for an act of blasphemy allegedly committed a few days earlier as Christian wedding in a small residential settlement outside Gojra town. It did not matter to the religiously charged crown that the alleged blasphemers and the victims of the mob attack lived several kilometres apart. Witnesses and media reports recount how a ranging mob, several thousand strong and armed with clubs, automatic weapons and incendiary chemicals, ransacked the Christian houses, forcing their occupants to run for safety. The mistake that Hameed Masih’s family made was that they refused to leave their house and resisted when the attackers came to burn down their house. This enraged the mob further and some of them screaming insults and slogans charged the house, shot Hameed dead, bolted the main gate of his house from outside so that no one could escape and set the modest dwelling on fire. Six people, including two women and one child, were burnt alive along with all the household furniture, utensils, family photos and other valuables. Two more Christians lost their lives before the mob was satisfied about exacting its revenge. Four years later, a government appointed inquiry commission to look into the cause and events of the attack has come up with a highly troubling finding: the allegations of blasphemy that had triggered it were baseless. It is ironic that the Gojra Christians lost precious lives along with their homes and hearths for something that did not even happen but no one was sentenced for the financial and human losses that the ensuing mob attack resulted in. Violence in Gojra was also not an isolated episode. It was, in fact, a repeat of what had happened in Sangla Hill town in 2006 and at Shanti Nagar – a Christian village a few kilometres to the east of Khanewal -- in 1997. In all these instances, a mob inflicted instant ‘justice’ on entire Christians communities after perceived, manufactured and sometimes even imaginary incidents of blasphemy blamed on individuals.
From 2011 to 2012, the number of individuals charged under the blasphemy law rose from 79 to 113. These numbers are composed of Muslims and Christians. Source: NCJP Non-Muslims are spread across Pakistan in such a way that most of the Christians live in Punjab and most of the Hindus are concentrated in Sindh. Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also house small communities of non-Muslims. Zohra Yusuf, the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission Pakistan (HRCP), explains how this geographical spread is one factor why incidences of violence against non-Muslims are so common in Punjab. Non-Muslims living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan do not live in large residential colonies as do the Christians in Punjab, she says, suggesting that targeting an entire community is easier in Punjab where non-Muslim neighbourhoods stand out because of their size and exclusively Christian population. The other reason as to why mob violence against non-Muslims is not as common in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan as it is in Punjab is because the extremist organisation in these two provinces target Shia Muslims who are more numerous and more concentrated there than the non-Muslims, she says. True to a large extent, Yusuf’s theory does not explain why Youhanabad - situated at the other end of Lahore from Joseph Colony, reportedly the largest Christian-only slum in the whole of South Asia and mostly housing sanitation workers and domestic servants - is seen as a safe haven by the community. Ishtiaque Gill, a 23-year-old student of law and a resident of Youhanabad, is well-versed in the socio-political dynamics of this expansive residential area mainly because he is sensitive to the exploitation and persecution people of his community have to face in their everyday lives.
The other factor behind his keen interest in the affairs of Youhanabad’s residents is his brother Tariq Javed’s involvement in electoral politics. Javed was elected as a district councillor from the area, supported by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN). Gill’s own political sympathies waver between PMLN, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and complete disheartenment with the political system ashe does not believe that the existing system of reserved seat in legislative houses for the non-Muslims could benefit his community. This system, he says, has spawned Christian leaders who are beholden to the parties which nominate them for the reserved seats rather than working for the socio-economic welfare of their community. He is equally unhappy with the religious leaders of his community who, he believes, are part of the reasons why Christians in Pakistan are more backward than perhaps any other religious community in the country. He says,
“Just think about it, we have more churches than schools in Youhanabad. “Do you think that is the right way to progress?”
One thing about Youhanabad that stands out is that its residents seldom, if at all, complain of having faced discrimination at the personal level. This changes radically at the community level though. There is not a single government school in Youhanabad while even small villages nearby, which house a majority of Muslims, sometimes have more than one government educational institution. The only education available is provided by private schools which charge as much as 2,500 rupees a month for each child studying there. A sanitation worker, earning anywhere between 10,000 rupees and 15,000 rupees a month, cannot afford such expensive education for any of his children. Ishtiaque explains how the absence of government schools leads to another problem: since there are no government buildings in Youhanabad, no polling stations are set up there for thousands of Christian voters residing there. “Even though my brother is a political worker, he could not convince my mother to cast her vote as she was too scared to leave the security of our neighbourhood and go to a polling station in a Muslim neighbourhood,” he says, with a sad grin on his face. Deep in the winding streets of Youhanabad, there is a house that always stays locked from inside. This is exceptional in a neighbourhood where doorways not only remain unlocked but even ajar at most times of the day. Those living inside this particular house do not open the door to visitors without first thoroughly inquiring about their identities and the purpose of their visit. Ashfaque and Saima (not their real names) who live inside have a reason for their caution: they don’t want anyone to know about them since this could endanger their lives. Fear, indeed, has haunted the two since they got married 16 months ago after Saima, a Muslim girl from a city in south Punjab, fell in love with Ashfaque, a Christian boy from Lahore. They had first met in a college in Lahore where they were both studying for their Bachelors’ degrees. When Saima wanted to convert to Christianity in order to spend life with the man she loves, she was very scared. She had never heard of anyone do this before. As the two were making inquiries to find out how she could convert, her fear grew since religious punishment for a Muslim converting to another religion is death. Since then, her fears have subsided but every now and then her husband receives life-threatening phone calls – forcing her fears to come rushing back to her.
“I don’t think Ashfaque tells me about all the calls he receives. I think he wants me to raise our daughter in a sense of security,” says Saima as she rocks her four-month-old baby girl on her knee. She has not stepped out of her house since her marriage, except when she needed to visit the hospital.
Ashfaque knows of at least one more couple in a similar situation. They are now in their fifties and it scares me to know that that they still receive threats via phone calls from complete strangers,” he says but adds that he did not have much of a choice when he married Saima. “Humans have strengths and weaknesses,” he says. “One of our weaknesses is that we develop emotional attachments to people and then it is impossible to let go.” Ashfaque regrets his failure to complete his Masters’ degree of law due to threats to his life. He, however, expects that he will be able to lead a secure life – mainly because of the fact that he resides in Youhanabad: “One of the safest areas that Christians can find in Pakistan.” In 2012 only one out of a hundred non-Muslim girls abducted and forced to convert to Islam, was returned to her family. Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) adds that those victims' families who filed criminal charges with the police were threatened by perpetrators. Source: Asian Human Rights Commission Next to Youhanabad, there is another Christian settlement, Asif Town. Its graveyard reached its capacity years ago. With help from local pastors and priests, the residents of the settlement have written many letters to the officials who lord over departments in charge of graveyards. The only replies they have received are empty promises that the problem will soon be dealt with. “Meanwhile, we are digging out older dead bodies to make room for new ones,” says Pastor Younus Viklas who runs a church in Asif Town. “I know it is horrific and unnatural but what choice do we have?” he says. Viklas’s church is at the edge of Asif Town. In fact it is the last building before the Muslim-dominated area begins. Viklas, therefore, has to be very careful about the sound level of the church microphone. He makes sure that members of his church do not use the microphone during the week unless there is an emergency. Even during the Sunday service, he does not turn the volume up so as to avoid upsetting the Muslims living nearby. There have been complaints in the past. A few months ago Viklas wanted to build a toilet in the church for women and children attending the service. He collected money from the churchgoers and engaged a builder to design and build the structure. But the construction had to be stopped only a day after it had started. The Muslims living across the road from the church complained that digging for laying drainage pipes for the toilet would “disrupt their lives”. In normal circumstances, government intervention could have resolved the problem to the satisfaction of both communities but these were extraordinary times. “The Joseph Colony incident had just happened and we had to think of our lives before thinking about our convenience,” Viklas says.
One reason why the attack on Joseph Colony caught its residents and Christians living in other neighbourhoods in Lahore by surprise was the fact that the city had never before experienced such an attack. Non-Muslims living in Lahore may have always felt left out socially, economically and politically but their residential areas have never been targeted in the past, says Michael.
The other reason for their surprise was that the whole incident started as a personal squabble, and had nothing to do with religion, between Saawan and Shahid Imran, his Muslim friend who lives in Sheikhabad and works as a barber. The two had been friends for almost a decade. Many residents of both Joseph Colony and Sheikhabad remember how close Saawan and Imran once were. Saawan was often a guest at Imran’s house, says Humeira Iqtidar, a teacher at the Kings College London who spent many weeks many weeks in the two neighbourhoods to understand the local dynamics. Shaheen Tariq (also known as Aunty in Joseph Colony) confirms Iqtidar’s statement: “Saawan and Imran were not just ordinary friends. They shared a deep relationship,” she says. “You don’t drink together every night if you don’t enjoy each other’s company,” she adds. Tariq has lived in Joseph Colony all her life and has been running the Tariq Karyana Store, a grocery shop there for more than a decade. She recounts how Imran and Saawan would often crack crude jokes while purchasing snacks from her. “All friendships have room for jokes and Imran and Saawan’s friendship was no different,” she says but adds that she always warned them to be careful because jokes could easily be misconstrued. The two young men always told her not to worry. Tariq’s shop is just two shops away from Saawan’s house. From that vantage, she has seen the initial stages of the attack unfold in front of her eyes. First there were only three boys, all from Sheikhabad, who came there and began challenging Saawan to come out of his house and “face the consequences of his actions”, is how she describes the start of the events of that day back in March. Soon the crowd outside the house started growing bigger by the minute, and scores of people started cursing Saawan and his family, she adds. Tariq’s shop had never been busier and, at least initially, she was delighted to see her sales grow even though she was feeling a little uneasy about the commotion. Out of curiosity, she started asking her customers as to why there was so much screaming, shouting and name calling. They told her that Saawan had made fun of Islam. Among the mob outside in front of her shop she could spot Ghazali Butt, a PMLN leader, and Asad Ashraf, a former member of the Punjab Assembly, along with many men in green turbans. Their presence was reassuring for her. “These are influential people; they will control the crowd and everything will fizzle out,” she recalls telling herself. But the crowd pulled out Saawan’s billiard table to set it alight. She saw two young men purchasing petrol from a nearby shop for the purpose.
By that time, people inside her own house had started panicking. When she tried to dismiss her daughter’s pleas to close down the shop and run away, the girl yelled: “They are not thinking straight. They will break your head if you don’t shut down the shop.” It was at this moment that Tariq’s eye caught a glimpse of the fire being lit just a stone’s throw away from her shop. She pulled down the shutters, grabbed as much money as she could from the cash counter and ran inside her house. Little did she know that those 8,000 rupees would be the only thing she could save from her shop. Though the police managed to disperse the crowd that day, most residents of Joseph Colony knew the worst was yet to come.
The number of targeted killings of non-Muslims rose from 26 in 2011 to 36 in 2012. In the last year, 23 victims were Christians and 13 were Hindus. Source: NCJP
According to the Human Rights Watch, an international organisation that conducts research and advocacy on human rights, living condition for Pakistan’s non-Muslims have drastically deteriorated. Moreover, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom stated in its 2012 report that Pakistan has been a “country of particular concern” since 2002 as far as the state of its non-Muslim citizens is concerned. Many in Pakistan, including some members of the non-Muslim communities, still want to believe that the situation is not as bad as it is made out to be.
A large part of this denial stems from the efforts of the state and the elected politicians to hide, rather than improve, the situation. This is exactly what is happening as far as the abduction and conversion of Hindu girls in different parts of Sindh is concerned. In the last half a decade, the incidents of abduction and conversion have risen alarmingly. Official data shows that the number of these incidents has decreased recently though Ravi Davani, the secretary general of All Pakistan Hindu Panchayat, claims that the lower incidence is because there is pressure to stop their reporting. “Firstly, families of the girls now hardly approach the police. Even if they do, the policemen promise help only if the family remains silent,” he says. “The policemen in turn are pressurised by the locally influential landlords to keep the incident under wraps; the landlords are told to do the same by the elected representative of the area,” he adds.
“No one wants these incidents to get out anymore. They are too embarrassing for the country.”
The government’s eagerness to keep the incidents of violence and discrimination against non-Muslim Pakistanis a secret is resulting in what Davani sees as religious blackmailing. He recounts how seven Hindu families are residing inside the Shri Laxmi Narain temple – located inside Karachi’ Native Jetty right next to the newly built Port Grande shopping, eating out and recreational area -- in sheer violation of religious edicts but refuse to leave, claiming discrimination and persecution. “How can anyone produce and raise children in a sacred place?” Davani angrily asks. They eat meat in there; they have built toilets in a 200-year-old place of worship,” he complains. Davani says that the families shifted inside the temple soon after the destruction of Babri Masjid in India. Bhagwandas Chawla, the then secretary general of the All Pakistan Hindu Panchayat decided that the temple needed a caretaker to avoid its demolition in the aftermath of the mosque’s razing in India which prompted tit for tat attacks on Hindu places of worship across Pakistan. He appointed Dassa Ram to take care of the temple but soon Dassa Ram’s entire family moved into the temple, followed by some other poor Hindu families who did not have a place to live. Whenever the officials of All Pakistan Hindu Panchayat try to shift them out of the temple, they rush to the media, complaining that their place of worship and their homes are being taken over.
“These land grabbers use the fact that they belong to the Hindu community to their advantage,” says Davani. “If you tell all the media houses that you are being discriminated against because of your religion, people will, of course have sympathy for you.”
Dassa Ram’s descendents, in fact, have filed a court case against Davani and Bhagwandas Chawla’s son Mukesh Chawla who is a minister in Sindh cabinet. “They just want the land for the construction of hotels,” says Bhaani, Dassa Ram’s wife. The stalemate will continue until the court decides the case.
Across the road from Joseph Colony, fifty-something-year old Mohammad Iqbal runs a small eatery. His three employees, all young boys from different parts of Lahore, describe him to be so devoted to his job that he comes across as a slave driver. “Asking the boss for an extra holiday is like asking to get a slap across your face,” says Ahmed, who has been working at the food stall for two years now. But a day after the Joseph Colony attack, Iqbal shut down his eatery and did not reopen it for almost a month. He says he was too scared to come to work. “In those days the police were rounding up suspects involved in the attack. If I had come to work then, I would be in jail right now,” he says.
If the fear of the police was not enough of a trouble, Iqbal was left scarred by what he saw on that fateful Saturday morning. He was serving breakfast to his customers when he saw a mob approaching. He is not sure how many people were there in the mob; he just says they were too many to count. “As far as I could see, there were people carrying sticks and stones,” he says and recalls how he told his staff to turn off the stoves immediately, drag all the utensils and furniture inside and drop the shutters. “I don’t know anything else; I was only interested in saving my shop and my life,” says Iqbal. But Iqbal had seen more than others because by that time, the residents of the colony had all left; women and children had been dispatched the night before and the police had chased away any men left behind. The police is said to have told Muslim workers employed in the warehouses in the area in advance to not come to work that day. Another account suggests that the police forced warehouses workers to leave an hour before the incident.
The rest of what happened on March 9, barring photographs and videos available on the internet, is hearsay. Media images show the mob setting fire to shops and houses in Joseph Colony, throwing furniture from rooftops, and celebrating their revenge on the alleged blasphemer and the members of his religious community. The most disturbing photographs are those in which the mob, holding sticks, rods and assorted pieces of broken furniture, poses for the camera with wide smiles beaming across their faces and victory signs flashing in the foreground.
While watching the videos showing the mob looting valuable and burning down whatever they could not carry away, one wonders where the police were and what they were doing to stop the mayhem. “They stood on the sidelines and watched,” says Michael.
Other residents of the colony wonder why the government did not order the rangers or the military to control the situation if the police were unable to handle the mob. “It was not due to a lack of competence; the police stood by due to a lack of will,” says HRCP’s Yusuf. If they had the will, they could have tried to disperse the crowd by firing some teargas shells, she adds. But, according to Yusuf, this was not the first time that the law enforcers had allowed their religious bias to supersede their professional duty. “Even during the riots in Gojra, the police did not fulfil their duties,” she says.
There were 729 reports of Hindus 'forcibly' converting to Islam between 2000 and 2012, and 617 Chirstinas who were 'forced' to convert. Source: NCJP
For Pastor Liaqat Masih, the police are capable of much worse than just watching a crowd on the rampage from the sidelines. Well-respected in his Isa Nagar village on the outskirts of Lahore, he doubles as a priest and a brick kiln worker along with other members of his family. His wife has developed calluses on her soles from kneading mud for making bricks. “We start work at 4 am and then take a break at noon when the sun is too hot to bear,” she says. Their survival depends on how fast they can work. They get 500 rupees for every 1,000 bricks they knead, mould, dry and then bake. When they were younger and fitter, Liaqat and his wife could make up to 1,000 bricks in a single day. Older and always under debt, these days they never find their earnings matching their needs.
Things were not always this bad, Liaqat laments. When he first moved closer to Lahore from a far-flung village in Punjab, he was pleasantly surprised to learn that he did not need to bother about his religious identity in the city. He was just like anyone around. But in the last five years, his religious identity has posed such problems for him that he often wishes if he could repay his loans and move back to his village. The latest source of his problems is a recent incident of robbery that occurred in Gujjumata, a village on the southern edge of Lahore. A day after the robbery, the police came to his house and took away his son Sarwar Masih. A day later, the police came back and this time took away two more of his sons -- Nadeem Masih and Patras Masih. “They kept them in custody for a month and tortured them every day,” Liaqat says. He had to borrow money from the owner of the brick kiln to bribe the police to get his sons released. But the boys had hardly been home for a day when the police returned and took away Liaqat’s brother, Mushtaq Masih, accusing him of a stealing a motorcycle. “Since then I don’t let any of my boys sleep at home; we all sleep at separate houses places because we are scared that the police may come any night and take all of us away,” says Liaqat. When Mushtaq returned home after a week in detention – but not before Liaqat had bribed the police again with money borrowed from the kiln owner -- one of his arms was broken, rendering him unable to resume brick making in order to paying the loan. “Why is every robbery that occurs in the radius of 10 kilometres [from Isa Nagar] blamed on us?” asks Mushtaq. Other residents of the village say that none of them has ever been proven to have committed a robbery yet the police believe all of them to be thieves. Mushtaq feels it is because of their religious identity which makes them socially vulnerable to bullying and persecution.
At a rundown police station near Gujjumata, a head constable does not want to explain why all robberies in the area are blamed on the residents of Isa Nagar. When his subordinate tries to come up with an explanation, he gets a stern look from his boss. Unable to remain silent as soon as he moves away from the admonishing eyes of the head constable, the subordinate says. “Our bosses have to satisfy the landlords who have been robbed; we have to show them that we are doing something,” he says.
“Keeping the Christians in the lockup shows the landlords that we are doing our job.”
Back at Essa Nagar, another problem has erupted. Twenty-year-old Raju who works at a nearby earthenware factory was arrested as soon as he got home. Raju’s father has come to Pastor Liaqat for advice. “They say he has an illegal gun, but we have never seen Raju with a gun,” laments his father. Liaqat offers them water and promises to help them as much as he can. “We will pray to the lord, this Sunday, to make these problems go away,” he tells Raju’s sobbing father.
There was no Joseph Colony in Lahore before 1978 when the authorities decided to relocate a small Christian settlement near Kashmiri Gate, one of the many entrances to the Walled City of Lahore. The Christian houses were seen as hampering some development projects in the area and so the government offered the Christians a deal: if they vacated the settlement land immediately, they would get three marla plots in Badami Bagh area at a subsidised price of just 4,500 rupees and that too payable in monthly instalments of 100 rupees. This is how Joseph Colony came about. When the government gave the Christians the land, they were also promised that they would not be displaced again, says Rozy Marshall who bought a plot in the colony 35 years ago. Her husband Parvez Marshall is a PMLN worker and has served a stint as a member of the union council.
Their daughter-in-law, Saadia, is devastated by the attack on the colony. “Everyone regarded me as the luckiest girl in the world because I had two houses in the colony to call my own; the one I grew up in and the one I am married into,” she says. “Now I realise how unlucky I am. I lost my entire world in one day. They burnt down both my houses.”
When the 23-year-old saw television footage of her neighbourhood in flames, she could not wait to check if her house was also part of the wreckage. But the police wouldn’t allow Saadia and her family to re-enter the colony. They told her that the danger was not yet over. After fighting her way in, she almost wished she hadn’t. When she entered her bedroom she saw that the door of her locker had been flung open and all her wedding jewellery had been taken away. The furniture had been burnt to ashes. “I was holding the ashes of the furniture my parents had bought for my wedding when other members of my family walked in,” says Saadia.
In another part of the colony, Sheedan’s family has a similar story to tell. The government has been generous in providing financial help to the residents of the colony, giving 500,000 rupees each to all married male members within each household. But what about educational degrees, official documents and family photographs that were burnt away in the fire, she asks. “No government can give me back my great grandfather’s pictures; no amount of money can buy back my trust in the police and political leaders,” Sheedan says.
Her young daughter Nancy is furious with those responsible for the fact that she is now living in a house with charred walls. She is also furious with the police for allowing this to take place. And unlike most residents of the colony, she is determined to fight back if something untoward happens again. She says,
“This time we will not run away … we may be poor and we may be non-Muslims but we can bear only so much.”
It is estimated that at least 700 Christian girls are kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam every year. Source:

Human Rights Focus Pakistan In another part of central Punjab, a tiny non-Muslim community in Doda village near Sargodha shows how resisting to pressures from the Muslims living around them is not always possible. At the time of Partition, a few Hindu and Sikh families in the village were stopped by their local Muslim friends from leaving for India but since then these families have only seen many of their members becoming Muslim. On a hot June day this year, a non-Muslim resident of Doda refuses to speak to a group of visiting journalists. One of the local Muslims present on the occasion claims that he is upset with his elderly father converting to Islam earlier that very day and his mother is bringing the whole house down with her cries and wails.
The other problem such small non-Muslim communities living in villages in Punjab face relates the marriage of their children. Neither the Hindus nor the Sikhs are so numerous in these areas as to be able to marry off their younger generation within the followers of their own faith. “There are many limitations in the Hindu religion regarding marriage between cousins so it is often difficult to find suitable matches,” says Ram Prakash, a teacher in Sargodha city. As a result many Hindu families have formed marital relations with Sinkh families. Prakash himself is a Sikh married to a Hindu woman. “Intermarriages between the two communities are no longer shocking nor are they rare,” he says.
It would be a sweeping statement to make if it was said that all of Pakistan’s non-Muslim citizens lead the same lives as the residents of Joseph Colony do – marred by fear, persecution and discrimination. There are pockets in the country, albeit small, where religion does not play a defining role in social relationships. Balochistan’s Lasbela district is one such area where a sizeable Hindu population lives as peacefully as any community can in this part of Pakistan. “Maybe in Khuzdar and Kalaat things are bad for the Hindus but in Lasbela everything is fine,” says 19-year-old Kailash Turshan who is going to start his third year of an engineering degree this fall. To prove his point, he mentions how a number of Hindus run all kinds of businesses in Bela city – from grocery stores to vegetable shops to restaurants -- and the Muslims have never had any problem in purchasing food from them.
Even in this oasis of religious harmony, there has been at least one incident which has left many unexplained questions in its wake. Ganga Ram Sharma, a Hindu businessman in Bela, was kidnapped last year and he migrated to India with his family after he was freed by his kidnappers. From the leaders of local Hindu community to Jam Kamal, a minister of state from the Awaran-cum-Lasbela constituency, no one knows who abducted Sharma and on what terms he was allowed to return home.
Turshan remembers how the incident scared other Hindu families in Bela, with some of them fleeing to India for safety. Turshan’s paternal uncle and his family were one of the seven or eight Hindu families that left Pakistan after Sharma’s kidnapping. Even then the young boy insists that he and his family face no religious discrimination. When Sharma was abducted, the Muslims and the Hindus stood together outside the Bela Press Club in protest, he points out. “If we were not living in harmony, would the Muslims have supported our cause?” he asks.
Kamal, whose family once ruled the princely state of Lasbela, agrees with Turshan. He doesn’t believe that Sharma’s kidnapping had anything to do with the businessman’s religion. “The security situation in Balochistan is terrible and all kinds of crimes are on the rise here,” he explains. “I think the kidnapping was purely done for money; it was not meant to scare Lasbela’s minority community.” According to Kamal, Lassis, the main residents of the area, are not aggressive by nature and that is a major reason why the Hindus here have never faced any hostility.
Another region relatively safe for non-Muslims is Sindh’s Tharparkar district. The only complaints that one hears here are about occasional incidents of Hindu girls getting abducted and forcibly converted to Islam. “But look at the numbers of girls abducted in Thar,” says Dr Sono Kangharani, a member of Pakistan Dalit Network, “and it is almost nothing in comparison to hundreds of abductions that take place in upper Sindh.”
The Arbabs, who have been the area’s most influential political family for many decades now and are the biggest, or perhaps the only real, landlords in the district, lost all but one seat in the 2013 general election that they contested. According to Lachhman Tharri, a former journalist in Mithi, the headquarters of Tharparkar’s district, one of the reasons for the Arbabs’ defeat was an anti-Hindu pamphlet Arbab Ghulam Rahim was responsible for distributing before the election. “The pamphlet described Hindus as infidels; it read that voting for a Hindu candidate was the same as going against Islam,” says Lachhman. This did not sit well with the Hindus or the Muslims in the district.
Kangharani says one reason why Tharparkar does not experience any religious violence is that it has almost as many non-Muslims as it has Muslims. In almost half of Thar’s 22,000 villages the Hindus own their own farm land, he says. In contrast, non-Muslims in upper parts of Sindh and entire Punjab are not privileged enough to own any land of their own.
Villagers in Thar are surprised when asked if they get along well with people who do not profess the same religion as they do. Their immediate reaction is to question as to why they would not get along well with other human beings? Lakjee, an upper caste Hindu who lives in a small village 30 kilometres from Mithi, says his parrah (traditional Tharri housing enclaves) is surrounded by Muslim parrahs from all sides and they all live as brothers.
“A long time ago, our forefathers wouldn’t eat with Muslims, but with the spread of education we have realised that the concept of untouchability is unnecessary,” he says. The Muslims from the nearby Sangrasi Jotar village echo his views. Even though a Muslim maulvi comes to their village every now and then to preach that they should not share cooking and eating utensils with non-Muslims, according to a young boy, no one listens to him. “He comes, he preaches and goes back. And things stay just the way they are,” he says laughing.
Perhaps the most important factor behind Thar’s interfaith harmony is its harsh climate and rugged terrain. “Just think about it. In a land where potable water is a luxury and regular meals a rarity, who will have time to worry about Hindu-Muslim differences?” asks Haji Muhammad, a lecturer at Mithi’s local university.
“The people of Thar are so busy pulling out water from 60-feet-deep wells for their daily use that they don’t have time to pick fights with their neighbours.”
Muhammad does not think that things will change in the future. He is confident that the harsh terrain of Thar will protect its residents from any uninvited outsiders. “Every now and then religious extremists who pose to be maulvis come to Thar and they try to preach their version of Islam to our people,” says the university teacher. “But the people of Thar have no acceptance for extremism.” He tells the story of one maulvi Qasim in Mithi who always ended his Friday sermon praying for the well being of both the Hindus and the Muslims. “Once some maulvis affiliated with Tableeghi Jamaat (a group of roving preachers) who were visiting the city heard Qasim pray and asked him why he was praying for the non-believers,” says Muhammad. “Qasim simply asked the maulvis to leave the city.”
There, however, are occasional news reports about girls being abducted by the Muslim landlords or religious leaders to force them into marriage. But Lachhman says that this problem is not specific to the Hindu girls. “If the girl is a Hindu, the kidnapper will convert her and then marry her; if she is a Muslim, then he does not need even to convert her,” he says. In at least one instance, the Muslims sided with the Hindus when a Muslim boy abducted a Hindu girl in Kerati village, says Kanghar Singh, a high school teacher in Islamkot, who is also a native of the same village. “They told the boy’s family that they would have to give a Muslim girl in exchange for the abducted Hindu girl,” says Singh. The Muslim boy in the end was forced to return the girl to her family.
No wonder that forced conversions of Hindu girls after abduction are rare in Tharparkar, at least as compared to Ghotki in northern Sindh where the politically and spiritually powerful family of Pir Bharchundi Sharif takes a lead role in the phenomenon by providing protection to Muslim boys who kidnap Hindu girls to convert and marry them. It was the 2012 abduction, conversion and marriage of a Hindu girl, Rinkle Kumari, which brought the activities of the Pir into national and international limelight. Abdul Haq alias Mian Mitho, the custodian of the Bharchundi Sharif shrine and then a National Assembly member belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) took pride in claiming to the media that he was helping the Hindu girls in the area to convert and marry the Muslim boys. What Mian Mitho is to Ghotki, Pir Ayub Jan Sirhindi is to Umerkot, the district adjacent to Tharparkar. From Diplo to Chhachhro, whenever an instance of forced conversion is discussed, there is almost always a mention of Sirhindi and his dargah in Samaro village. Most of the Hindu girls, who disappear from villages and cities of the desert, somehow end up in Samaro under Sirhindi’s protection. In the last year alone, he claims to have converted approximately 1,000 Hindus – both men and women -- to Islam.
The history of Sirhindi’s ancestors goes back to the time of Mughal Emperor Akbar. When Akbar began propagating this own syncretic religion in 1592, Sirhindi’s forefather, Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi, stood against it in what is now Indian Punjab. After the partition, Sirhindi’s family moved to Peshawar and then Kandahar but eventually his father settled in Umerkot.
Sirhindi first gained international recognition in 2007 when Deepa Kumari, a 17-year-old Hindu girl, went missing from Islamkot. Deepa’s parents, much like Rinkle’s, created a lot of uproar about their missing daughter, claiming that her Muslim teacher had abducted her and taken her to Sirhindi’s place in Samaro. The case became so well known that the then president Pervez Musharraf took note of it. “Musharraf demanded that Deepa immediately be returned to her family, but I said register a case and follow the legal procedure,” says Sirhindi in a telephone conversation with the Herald. When Deepa was presented in a court, she stated that she had fallen in love with her tutor and gone with him to Samaro to embrace Islam in order to marry him.
“Over the years, many young girls and old women have come to me and asked to be taken into the fold of Islam,” says Sirhindi. “Before we convert them, we do complete background checks to assure ourselves that these women are acting on their own free will.” He claims that he has never converted any Hindu forcibly. “All the uproar created in the media is either due to the Indian agents who run newspapers or by hypocrites who want to give Islam a bad name.”
To prove his claim that the media is biased in the coverage of his activities, Sirhindi says that Korean Christian missionaries have set up boarding schools all the way from Badin to Tharparkar and have converted more than 1,000 families in 2012 alone and yet no media outlet ever speaks about them. According to him, the missionaries have been sent to Sindh by Pope Benedict XVI to convert local Hindus to Christianity. “They choose the poorest Hindu families and then tempt them with an offer of a better life,” says Sirhindi.
Kangharani confirms that the Korean missionaries have been active in the area for the last five years. They have set up educational institutions in various cities including Badin, Nagarparkar, Mirpurkhas and Sanghar. Kangharani says:
“These missionaries don’t focus on individuals; they convert entire villages. They must have converted 200 to 250 [Hindu] villages in the last two and a half years.”
Although everyone is aware of the Koreans’ existence, no Muslim or Hindu leader in the areas where they operate has so far tried to talk to them about their activities. “They are too scared of their Christian leaders to share anything about their work,” says Allah Baksh Arisar, Dawn’s local correspondent in Umerkot.

This is not the first time in this part of the world that villagers are embracing the Christian faith on a large scale. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, there were scores of villages in Punjab where people belonging to the Chandala tribe embraced Christianity in droves. The Chandalas are one of the indigenous tribes of Punjab who were kept out of the Indo-Aryan caste system in order to force them under political, social and economic subjugation. According to John O Brien, the author of The Unconquered People, a book that traces the history of the Chandalas, their subjugation was the main reason behind their mass conversion to Christianity.
Between 1901 and 1914, almost 14,000 Chandalas stepped into the fold of Christianity; by 1947 this group had developed a new identity for themselves as Punjabi Christians. By then they had also succeeded in concretising this identity through developments such as translating the English Psalms into versified Punjabi for communal singing and the addition of the appellation “Masih” after their names.
For one such Masih, by the name of Naeem, the attack on Joseph Colony proved that the subjugation of his people is not over even though almost a hundred years have passed since their conversion to Christianity. That their political and social status remains as lowly as it ever was is manifested in the Punjab government’s reconstruction plans for their houses. The workers come to fix their houses have applied plaster on the outer surface of the walls weakened, and even split, by the fire and then they painted them in bright colours, especially the facades of the houses, to make them seem brand new from the outside. Whenever Naeem tried to explain to the builders that plastering the weakened structures was not a sustainable solution, he would be told to stop creating a ruckus otherwise they would not even do the plastering and the paint.
In the absence of a proper reconstruction at the government’s expense, Naeem and many of his neighbours have started doing it with their own money. After paying for the construction material and defraying the labour costs, he says, he says he will have nothing left from 500,000 rupees the government handed down to him as compensation. Apart from the additional financial burden the reconstruction has put on his financial resources, it is also taking time and is forcing his family members to squeeze their daily lives into even tinier corners of their small houses strewn with heaps of construction material. “Three months have passed since the mob attack but my house is still under construction,” Naeem tells the Herald in June. Behind him, construction workers can be seen building the roof of his house.
Residents of Joseph Colony say their houses were set alight by a chemical they identify as phosphorous. No one has conducted any investigation, legal or scientific, to ascertain whether the chemical used is phosphorous or something else but the local Christians seem to be quite familiar with it.
Michael says:
“This is the same chemical that was used in Gojra and Shanti Nagar as well as when a church in Mardan was torched earlier this year,”

16 different incidents of violent attacks against Christians, were reported during 2012, which left 11 individuals dead. While the murders could not be linked to religious animus in all cases, five churches, one Catholic hospital and a Chirstinate village were attacked during the same period. Source: US Commission of International Religious Freedm (USCIRF) Before the reconstruction could even start in Joseph Colony, the members of another Christian community living in Francisabad, a huge all-Christian settlement a few kilometres to the south of Gujranwala city, faced the dire prospects of a mob attack. On April 2, 2013, scores of Muslims from nearby village of Naroki came rushing into Francisabad, accusing a local Christian boy of committing blasphemy. The real reason for their anger is said to be a dispute between a Christian boy and a Muslim boy, both sharing a ride on a motorcycle rickshaw, over what music the vehicle’s driver should play. Unlike in Joseph Colony, the mob encountered local Christians ready to retaliate. Some Christian boys fired shots in the air to scare of the Muslim attackers from the safety of their houses, says Romana Bashir, the director of Christian Study Centre, an inter-faith harmony group based in Islamabad. Media reports and other accounts from the area suggest that the timely and effective response by the police was another factor that averted the possibility of a repeat of what had happened at Joseph Colony.

Why did police act so effectively in Francisabad but only stood by in Joseph Colony? Did someone bribe the police in Lahore to stay a silent spectator; did someone exert any political influence for the same purpose? Iqtidar of Kings College speculates that the residents of Sheikhabad, who are mostly daily wage workers, are neither rich nor powerful so they could not have bribed or influenced the police. The only people in the area with means and money to do that are the owners of the numerous warehouses around Joseph Colony. The might have wanted the local Christians to leave the colony so that they could expand their businesses there but there is no evidence to link them so directly with the attack even when some local Muslim community leaders insist that the attackers mostly were the employees of the warehouses who mostly belonged to areas outside Lahore.
HRCP’s Yusuf, however, is convinced that the police’s motive in letting the rioting happen at Joseph Colony was religious rather than financial or political. “The sympathies of the police usually lie with the Muslims,” she says.
“Over the years, prejudices against non-Muslims have deepened in the society and this is visible at all levels -- from the media to the judiciary to the lower rank of the police.”
The allegations of blasphemy, in particular, arouse emotions very quickly, says Yusuf.
Bashir’s experience of working on peace and reconciliation between the Muslims and the Christians in Pakistan seems to endorse this point of view. She tells the story of a man who was a member of the mob that attacked Shanti Nagar. During a reconciliation session years later, he narrated how he ran from his village for a good 20 kilomtres to reach and attack Shanti Nagar after a local maulvi announced that a Christian had insulted the Prophet of Islam. The police officials in Lahore could very well have felt the same way after hearing that Saawan Masih had committed blasphemy.
The traumatic impact of their failure to protect Joseph Colony is still being felt many months after the attack. Sixteen-year-old Sumya, whose father Mansha Masih runs a paan stall, is so traumatised that she cannot sleep in her Joseph Colony house any longer. Fearing that the mob can return, she leaves the colony every evening to sleep at her uncle’s house near Jail Road.
“After seeing what we saw, anyone could lose their mind,” says Sumya. “I wish we were burnt down in the fire. That would have been easier than what we are passing through now.”
This is was originally published in Herald's August 2013 issue. To read more, subscribe to Herald's print edition.