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Some Muslim extremists made phone calls to me and demanded a big amount of money, but I thought if I give them money I will be proved as guilty and I won’t be able to do any work in Pakistan. They even made threatening phone calls against me to my colleague clergymen in the United Bishop’s Council of Pakistan. They made visits to the Bishop’s Council finding me there; they said they would cut me into pieces and distribute my body parts among the Christian clergymen. Then I was called by one of the Bishops. He warned me of the situation. And many others warned me that militants wanted to burn and kill me and my family. All this harassment and blackmail caused me to go into hiding. I went into hiding because I could not make any public appearance or do ministry. Neither did my children have the freedom to go out anywhere.
FP: Why exactly did this happen in your view? Did you expect it? Were you naïve perhaps in terms of speaking a certain way in front of the Muslims? Or they have completely made everything up and you never really said anything?
Joseph: I have been working on Peace Promotion and Christian Rights in Pakistan and the Muslim militants of Pakistan do not want any Christian figure to come up and raise the voice of the Christian community in Pakistan, and that’s the reason why they assassinated Shahbaz Bhatti and why they are persecuting Christians of Pakistan in public.
Yes. I knew this will happen to me one day but we just cannot sit and wait till Muslim extremists burn and destroy the whole Christian Community. I spoke with wisdom in front of Muslims and I never used any derogatory remarks against their prophet because we as Christians are taught to respect other religions.
This whole plan of saying that I used derogatory remarks against Muhammad was a propaganda to encourage Muslim extremists against me, so that I cannot raise the voice of the Christian Community in Pakistan.
FP: What in your view is the significance in terms of this terrible misfortune that has befallen you and your family?
Joseph: After our persecution, me and my family are extremely disturbed with all what we have gone through. We left our country and everything behind, we are not able to associate with anyone in Pakistan because of the fear of Muslim extremists. We are hoping to start up again and come out of this hiding-place. Now we want to live openly and start working for Christ again.
FP: Bishop Joseph, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
Thank you for your courage and fight for the truth, and battle on behalf of the Christian community in Pakistan. You are in our thoughts and prayers and we wish you and your family perseverance and safety.
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