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Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Bishop Pervaiz Joseph, the Chairman of Charismatic Gospel Ministries located in Lahore, Pakistan. He also leads the Pastors’ Care Ministry and has been working on interfaith harmony and peace promotion for the last seven years. Due to certain recent developments, he had to leave his house and everything he owned. He is now in a hiding place with his family.
FP: Bishop Joseph, welcome to Frontpage Interview. I am very sorry about the horrible circumstances you and your family now find yourselves. Please know that you are in the hearts, minds and prayers of everyone here at Frontpage.
Let’s begin with your background and what led you and your family now having to hide in fear for your lives.
Joseph: Thank you Jamie.
This is how my persecution began: In a meeting on peace promotion and interfaith harmony with Sunni Tehreek in Lahore, on October 12, 2011, the misuse of Pakistan’s blasphemy law was also discussed. Apparently, this was not appreciated by Islamic leaders Rana Tahir Advocate, Nasreen Akhtar Advocate, Mohammad Sher Afghan and Moulana Mukhtar Ahmad Qadri.
The Muslim religious leaders, who were also working with me while I was discussing the misuse of blasphemy law, during an exchange of communications, claimed that I used derogatory remarks against the Muslim Holy Prophet Mohamed.
The International Peace Council for Interfaith Harmony leader Rana Tahir Rahmat, and Mulana Mukhtar Ahmad Qadri Zei, the Muslim leader of Ahlae Sunat wa Al Jamat( Suni Terreek) and other militant groups, started blackmailing and harassing me for carrying out Evangelism through Interfaith Harmony and Peace Promotion by uplifting the voice of the Christian community rights in Pakistan.
Rana Tahir Rahmat and his group then became angry and planned to destroy and kill me by accusing me of blasphemy. Advocate Nasreen Akhtar used her emotions and started propagating against me among a Muslim militants’ group located at 85 Mall Road, Lahore, Pakistan; and Rana Tahir Rehmat gave life threats to my wife through phone calls.
Islamic leaders announced the blasphemy case to be filed against me, and attacked my house twice along with the heavily armed Muslim Militants.
The Islamic militants even visited Bishop Council’s Chairman and said that they will cut me and my family into pieces and will distribute among all the clergymen working in United Bishop’s Council.
In Pakistan, when someone is condemned by the Blasphemy Law, the militants do not wait for the court to take action; they decide themselves whether they want to kill the person or not. And the fear of the recently murdered Federal Minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Governor Salman Taseer and the burnt Christian colonies was also there. The Christian Leadership of Pakistan also warned me of the upcoming threats and discrimination of the Muslim militants on me and my family.
Thank God none of my family members was in the house when it was attacked by the heavily armed militants. They persecuted me in many different ways. The situation was so strange and unbearable, and it was getting worse day by day so it caused me and my family to go into hiding.
FP: Tell us about the “misuse” of Pakistan’s blasphemy law. What do you mean “misuse.” Is there an actual legitimate way to “use” it? Or you just mean its oppressive and barbaric nature in general. Whatever the case, tell us about how it inflicts horror in Pakistan.
Joseph: Misuse of Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law is that Muslim militants falsely accuse innocent Christians in charge of 295 C(Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law) sometimes to take revenge; to occupy their land/ property; to show that they are more powerful; to earn more money; to become popular among the native people; and to degrade and discriminate minorities.
Before the official authorities take any action, the militants burn or murder those whom they falsely accuse. There is a legitimate way in Pakistan to use blasphemy law and it is same as the other laws; first complainant should file a case, then the officials should inquire deeply, then the court should decide if the blame on the victim is true or the victim has been falsely accused. But blasphemy law is now mainly used to degrade and discriminate the Christian community of Pakistan.
FP: Tell us specifically about how the Muslim individuals and groups blackmailed and harassed you.
Joseph: Muslim individuals including Advocate Nasreen Akhtar went in an office located on 85 Mall Rd among Muslim extremists and starting crying and said that Bishop Pervaiz Joseph had come to his house and used derogatory remarks against the Prophet Mohammad. By listening to this, the militants group became very anxious and immediately my wife started receiving phone calls from Rana Tahir Rehmat, who made threats on my wife’s life and the militant group twice attacked our house.
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