Mother Teresa Sisters arrested for “selling” children

November 29, 2011 by  
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Sri Lankan nun arrestedSri Lanka, November 28, 2011: Sr. Eliza is the first Missionary of Charity to be jailed; she was accused following an anonymous tipoff. Sister Eliza runs a hostel for unwed mothers. Confusion surrounds her arrest. According to fellow nuns, the incident is due to an outdated registry.  Sister Mary Eliza, from the Missionaries of Charity, has been in prison since Friday night accused of selling children. Since the congregation was founded, she is the first nun of Mother Teresa to be arrested. An anonymous tipoff informed police, which then burst into the Prem Nivesa of Moratuwa, a hostel for young unwed mothers run by the Sisters of Mother Teresa and arrested the nun. The hostel is now impounded. Sister Eliza, superior of Prem Nivesa, is now in jail at the Women’s Prison of Welikada, and has not been able to see a lawyer yet. Today, a judge is set to charge her formally with illegal trafficking in children.

Last Wednesday, a group of people led by Anoma Dissanayake, head of the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA), surrounded the Prem Nivesa hostel to examine the situation of the children and mothers living in the facility run by the Missionaries. “Police and NCPA officials burst into the home at around 11 am, causing panic. They checked every nook and cranny in the facility and took away our files,” a nun told AsiaNews. Two days later, on Friday evening, police agents took Sister Eliza and two nuns to a judge’s home. Sister Eliza was then taken by car to Welikada Prison, whilst the two other nuns were brought back to the convent. “Police, NCPA officials and media rushed to our facility,” Sister Eliza said before her arrest. “They cross-examined the unwed mothers and took away many documents.”

“We have never been involved in child trafficking. It is against our faith,” she reiterated. “Our mission is to take care of unwed mothers and their children. We have never taken money for our work. Children are adopted in accordance with the law.” The circumstances surrounding the arrest of Sister Eliza remain murky. Some local media accused the Sisters of “selling the future of the country to foreigners for few thousand rupees”. However, the Missionaries of Charity believe their mother superior is prison because the home opened its doors to an underage pregnant woman without informing the police and because the number of children in the facility was greater than the number reported in the registry, which had not been updated. The confusion is compounded by the silence of the Church, which has not yet issued an official statement about Sister Eliza’s arrest. There are nearly 760 convents of Mother Teresa worldwide with more than 5,000 missionaries. The Prem Nivesa has 75 children, 20 pregnant women and 12 new mothers. The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) is an independent organisation under the Office of the President.

– melani manel perera

Kashmir Muslim scholars challenge Christian missionaries. Threatened with expulsion

November 29, 2011 by  
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Jammu & Kashmir, November 27, 2011: Kashmiri Muslim scholars Sunday challenged Christian missionaries for an inter-faith debate, in presence of an independent committee. Addressing a day long seminar at SP Pratap Higher Secondary School here, the ulema threatened to expel Christian missionaries from Kashmir. The speakers also said that there was a need to monitor activities of schools to stop any unethical or irreligious activity which can spoil Kashmiri youth. Islamic religious scholar Dr Nazir Ahmad Zargar expressed concern over the suspected Christian missionary activities in the valley and accused the missionaries and their Pastors of luring youth through rewards and money for the conversion. He also challenged Christian scholars to debate with the Islamic scholars in the open. Blaming the present education system, Zargar claimed that the missionary schools were spoiling the youth with their false arguments and creating confusions in the minds of young people. He stressed the refreshing of curriculum syllabi in the schools and their systems. Besides others, Prof. Moulana Zahoor Ahmad Shah Al-Madni, Moulana Nisar Ahmad Bhat Al-Madni and Moulana Faheem Mohammad Ramzan were also present and continued the Christian bashing.
– gcic

Pakistani Hindus seek refuge in India

November 29, 2011 by  
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Pak HindusNew Delhi, November 27, 2011: They force us to convert to Islam and threaten of dire consequences. They abduct our children and loot our property. If we complain, nobody listens. There, even the prime minister is not safe, let alone Hindus,” says Mithalal, who is in his 50s. Sitting hunched with his face cupped in his hands, 42-year-old Shobhamal dreads going back to Pakistan’s Sindh province where he has earned the status of a pariah and ”bore the brunt of being a non-Muslim”. A group of 146 Pakistani Hindus took refuge at capital’s Majnu ka Tilla Sep 8 after crossing the Attari border Sep 4. “I don’t fear for my life but for my family. I decided to come here as there is no place for Hindus in Pakistan. Sexual assault, forced conversion, abduction and humiliation is all this country (Pakistan) has given us,” Shobhamal told IANS.
Shobhamal’s 18-year-old son died of cancer here earlier this month. With their tourist visas expired some two months ago, these people from Bagidi community are reluctant to go back to Sindh where, they say, there is no security of their life and property. Hindus form around seven percent of the total population of Sindh province. “We don’t want to go back. We are outcast there. We appeal to the government that please just give us refuge and we don’t want any citizenship,” rues 45-year-old Ganga Ram. Gang Ram has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, requesting extension of their visas and shelter.
They are currently living in 12 tents and share one dilapidated toilet — but say they don’t have much complaints. “We are happy here. Though life is tough here, it’s not an ordeal what it used be in Pakistan. There, you bear the brunt of being non-Muslims,” said Sagar, a mechanic, who was robbed of all his tools with which he used to make his ends meet. “They force us to convert to Islam and threaten of dire consequences. They abduct our children and loot our property. If we complain, nobody listens. There, even the prime minister is not safe, let alone Hindus,” says Mithalal, who is in his 50s.
When this IANS correspondent tried to speak to the women in the community, a sense of reluctance took over. However, a few narrated their ordeal, after much convincing. “When our husbands are away for work, we keep our doors locked and live in constant fear. We are not allowed to wear vermillion on our foreheads,” said Rukmini. “We don’t eat our food until our children come back as you never know they might be kidnapped or circumcised,” said a woman, refusing to reveal her identity.

– ians

Justice Saldanha addresses PUCL Meet *Christian woman arrested on false charges of forced conversion

November 29, 2011 by  
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Justice Saldanha addresses PUCL MeetKarnataka, November 29, 2011: Almost every day the media reports an encounter death from some part of the country or the other and such shootings which have absolutely no legal sanction have been described by the judiciary as STATE MURDER. Recently the Gujarat high court has ordered action under section 302 IPC and against the police officers involved in the Ishrath Jahan encounter where the lady student and four others were shot by police. After that Kishanji has just been shot down on the ground that he was a Maoist Leader. Several pertinent questions arise with regard to these operations which are regarded as the very worst form of human rights atrocities. Does the law sanction such action and more importantly can it be justified? In how many cases is the action valid and in how many cases is this being used in order to eliminate inconvenient persons? Does the rule of law admit action of this type? What is the percentage of fake encounters? What is the role of the courts and of the government in such situations? These are the matters of deep seated public importance to which the citizens of the country want the answers.

Custodial Torture and Disappearance:
Human rights institutions globally have been deeply concerned with false arrest for motivated reasons, inhuman custodial torture, Custodial deaths and disappearance of suspects. In Mangalore and South Kanara alone police have been indiscriminately picking up members of the minority community without any record of arrest on the ground that they have been called for questioning and are therefore not produced in court. There is no means of redressal for torturing people or the illegal detention and even where deaths take place it is covered up on the ground that it was due to natural causes. Whenever a serious offence takes place members of the minority community are indiscriminately picked up, beaten up and as happened recently, since there is no record of arrest when the court questions the police they deny having taken the person into custody. Society wants the rule of law to prevail and a stop to these illegalities. 
Political Interference is contempt of court:
The ex-CM, BS Yeddyurappa and many other politicians are facing prosecutions in several sensitive cases, before the Lokayukta Court. These are extremely important cases where top level Police officers of integrity are required for the Investigations. Within four days of the release on bail of the ex-CM the main investigating officer Gaonkar was transferred and he has been replaced by a Yediyurappa loyalist. Gaonkar had only been in that post for 60 days, he is an officer of integrity and because he was inconvenient he was removed. The CM was unable to justify this action which was aimed at scuttling the investigation in all the sensitive cases that were under his investigation. This constitutes direct interference with the course of the judicial proceedings and the court will have to initiate action Under Section 2 of the Contempt of Courts Act against all those responsible and order the restoration of the status quo ante, which requires a reinstatement of Gaonkar at the earliest.

– p.b d’sa

Christian woman arrested on false charges of forced conversion


Christian woman arrested on false charges of forced conversionKarnataka, November 28, 2011: On the eve of Advent, a time of expectations and hope, Karnataka recorded its 41st anti-Christian incident of the year. A Christian woman, Mrs Janakiyamma, who is a member of the Bethel Ministry Church, was arrested. Her “only crime was to spread the word of God,” said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), which “waits with hope for the time when the Christian minority in Karnataka will enjoy religious freedom as it is enshrined in the Indian Constitution”. On Saturday, Mrs Janakiyamma was praying with her husband and other members of her church at a home in the outskirts of Kushalnagar village, in Kodagu District (Karnataka).

During the meeting, members of the Bajrang Dal and Sangh Parivar, two ultranationalist Hindu organisations, burst into the home, accusing those present of engaging in forced conversions. After they called the Kushalnagar police station, they arrived and arrested the woman, who was taken later in the day to Madikeri Prison. Activists observe the speed with which false accusations are made, and the repeated threats and acts of persecution against Christians in the state shows a clear link between the government, police and extremists. Since 2008, Karnataka has been under the BJP government, which has backed Hindu extremist groups and movements from a far right Hindutva movement. Hers is the 41st case of officially recorded anti-Christian persecution in Karnataka in this year alone.

– nirmala carvalho

Steps to Salvation…

November 26, 2011 by  
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Step to Salvation“What are the steps to salvation?”

Many people are looking for “steps to salvation.”

People like the idea of an instruction manual with five steps that, if followed, will result in salvation.

An example of this is Islam with its Five Pillars. According to Islam, if the Five Pillars are obeyed, salvation will be granted. Because the idea of a step-by-step process to salvation is appealing, many in the Christian community make the mistake of presenting salvation as a result of a step-by-step process.

Step to SalvationRoman Catholicism has seven sacraments.

Various Christian denominations add baptism, public confession, turning from sin, speaking in tongues, etc., as steps to salvation.

Step to SalvationBut the Bible only presents one step to salvation.

When the Philippian jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30-31).

Faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior is the only “step” to salvation.

The message of the Bible is abundantly clear. We have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin, we deserve to be eternally separated from God (Romans 6:23). Because of His love for us (John 3:16), God took on human form and died in our place, taking the punishment that we deserve (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

God promises forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven to all who receive, by grace through faith, Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12; 3:16; 5:24; Acts 16:31).

Salvation is not about certain steps we must follow to earn salvation.

Yes, Christians should be baptized. Yes, Christians should publicly confess Christ as Savior. Yes, Christians should turn from sin. Yes, Christians should commit their lives to obeying God.

However, these are not steps to salvation. They are results of salvation.

Because of our sin, we cannot in any sense earn salvation.

We could follow 1000 steps, and it would not be enough. That is why Jesus had to die in our place. We are absolutely incapable of paying our sin debt to God or cleansing ourselves from sin.

Step to SalvationOnly God could accomplish our salvation, and so He did.

God Himself completed the “steps” and thereby offers salvation to anyone who will receive it from Him.

Salvation and forgiveness of sins is not about following steps. It is about receiving Christ as Savior and recognizing that He has done all of the work for us.

God requires one step of us—receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and fully trusting in Him alone as the way of salvation. That is what distinguishes the Christian faith from all other world religions, each of which has a list of steps that must be followed in order for salvation to be received.

The Christian faith recognizes that God has already completed the steps and simply calls on us to receive Him in faith.

Step to Salvation

– fwd: samuel machado

Truthseekers wash feet of farmers in thanksgiving gesture

November 26, 2011 by  
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Truthseekers wash feet of farmers in thanksgiving gestureHaryana, November 22, 2011: Truthseekers, an activist NGO working among the dalit and backward communities is celebrating Farmer’s Thanksgiving Day, starting 21 Nov 2011, and ending on Ambedkar’s Memorial Day, 6th Dec 2011. Truthseekers have called on the government to declare Thanksgiving Day for the Farmers of India.

This program was started at Dariyapur in Haryana. The lower caste groups from four Jat, Gujjar, Scavenger, and Weaver communities took part in this thanksgiving event.  Rev. Sunil Sardar addressed the crowd and washed the feet of farmers to thank them for their labor and cultivating the land of this country. He then prayed that the Kingdom of Bali would come and misery would go. The great social reformer, Mahatma Jyotirao Phule initiated the Truthseekers movement and for him, Baliraja was Jesus.

Truthseekers wash feet of farmers in thanksgiving gestureIt was also a confluence of the East and West cultures, as foreigners got an opportunity to wash the feet of Indian farmers and thank them for taking care of God’s creation and providing for the rest of mankind.  Rev. Sunil Sardar said that this “is an historical event because throughout the history of India, farmers have been invaluable to the progress and life sustaining capabilities of this country. Yet the farmers have never been thanked and have often been exploited.  In the memory of Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, we washed the feet of OBC farmers to thank them for their contribution in building the nation.  This was a real homage to Mahatma Phule ideals, which the Truthseekers carry on today, long after Jyotiba has gone on to be with the Lord.

Truthseekers wash feet of farmers in thanksgiving gestureAmong others of those who participated were Dr. Ghawade, Paul Larson, Noel Becchetti, Grant McFarland, Sunil Pahlwan, Vijay Paswan, Shiv Kumar Pal, Dan Davis, Lynnel Job and other activists.

Islamist parties take to the street against the military, threaten violence

November 26, 2011 by  
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Manifestazione Fratelli MusulmaniEgypt, November 18, 2011: Thousands of supporters of Islamist parties rallied today in Tahrir Square to protest against excessive power wielded by the military. Led by the Muslim Brotherhood, the demonstration saw pro-democracy parties stay away. Although they too are against the military, they also oppose Islamist parties’ strong-arm tactics. The latter object to plans that would make the military the guardian of ‘constitutional legitimacy’, and thus give them a final say on the 28 November elections. Unless the proposed constitutional change is not shelved, Islamists say they would escalate their campaign.

“The Muslim Brotherhood are provocateurs,” said Fr Rafic Greiche, spokesman of the Egyptian catholic Church. “They are using these demonstrations to flex their muscle vis-à-vis the military and the nation. However, they are also showing their truer, most intransigent face, which they have cloaked so far under a veneer of moderate Islamic political activism. This could play in favour of pro-democracy parties who have Egypt’s interests at heart, and are not just vying for power.”

Public opinion polls indicate that the Muslim Brotherhood is leading among voters, especially in country’s poorest region, with about 30 per cent. Their camp includes some of the most intransigent and radical Islamic groups like Salafis who are the main instigators of anti-Christian violence.

For example, dozens of Salafis, hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails, yesterday disrupted the memorial service for the victims of the massacre of Christians of 9 October, traditionally held 40 days after death.

For four hours, the procession of 500 people was blocked on a road that leads from a Coptic neighbourhood to the square where Egyptian state TV is located. Eventually, mourners were able to leave but could not make it to site of the memorial service. The attack left 32 people injured, Copts but also police agents brought in to stop the violence.

“Unfortunately, it is too early to know what will happen over the next few months or if, as some analysts predict, the Muslim Brotherhood will win the elections,” Fr Greiche said.

Egypt, the clergyman added, is very different from Tunisia, Algeria or Libya where Muslim represent more than 90 per cent of the population, and Christians are few and usually foreign-born.

“In our country, the Christian community is ancient and represents more than 10 per cent of the population, which is more than 8,000,000 people. Despite their divisions, Liberal parties are winning people over, especially the better educated,” the clergyman explained.

Nevertheless, “The situation remains very critical. We must be ready for any scenario and support those who are willing to take a stand for their country.” (S.C.)

– asianews

Justice Saldanha’s presentation for UN periodic review

November 26, 2011 by  
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Retired Justice Michael Saldanha

Retired Justice Michael Saldanha

Karnataka, 25th November 2011: The actions of several judicial officers both at the senior and junior levels of the judiciary, have thrown the justice delivery system in India open to accusations of Hinduisation or Saffronisation, which has a direct bearing on the fundamental human rights of the citizens. I speak from my 15 years as judge in the Bombay and Karnataka High Courts and observations of the dismal human rights record, specifically in Karnataka and Orissa, besides other states, where the right wing nationalist party BJP is in power.

Acts of Terrorism – State Terrorism
We have seen that in most cases where the BJP is in power, it has a greater influence on the judiciary, but in Karnataka one experienced the full power of State Terrorism, which was blatant enough to be captured by independent media. We saw the direct and explicit involvement of the Chief Minister, Home Minister and the team of administrative officials, including senior police officers in the planning, execution and implementation of the attacks, including exoneration thereafter of the criminals who denied minorities basic human rights .

Supreme & High Court judges found wanting
There have been more than many instances of the judiciary at various levels, seeming to abet injustice by words and actions, with even Supreme Court judges making offensive statements, which have had to be recanted following an uproar from the minorities. A case in point is the observations in the famed pastor Graham Staines case, where the judge almost sought to justify the behaviour of the main accused Dara Singh and convicted him leniently to life imprisonment, rather than the death penalty, which ought to be.

Often in cases of prosecution, bias has been observed even from judges of the High Court and at the lower levels, it is even more pronounced, with favour being shown to the far right fundamentalist elements. Indications of such preferential treatment to Hindutva forces can be seen in instances of refusal to grant bail, failure to quash false proceedings and harassing the victims, rather than the culprits by having cases to drag on for years.

Dismal Track Record of Fast Track Courts & Commissions
Often it has been noticed that fast track courts or official commissions, not only do not serve the purpose of delivering speedy justice, but even worse are used by the state government to exonerate the culprits. In case of Karnataka, it was the Justice Somashekara Commission that gave a clean chit to the Hindutva Chief Minister, Home Minister, Hindutva brigade and also senior police officials, who led the charge against the minorities. Over the last 3 years, there are over 200 false cases foisted on Christians, which repeated far right chief ministers have promised to withdraw, but to date have not done so.

In Orissa, the observations of the Justice Wadhwa Commission seemed to be yet another cover-up exercise. The atmosphere in the courtroom itself is so hostile as to deter the truth on human rights to surface, with open threats being issued to the victims. Many of those affected do not have the resources to even file a complaint at the local police station, let aside hire attorneys to argue their case, which the Hindutva force can well afford. Of the 120 odd complaints filed, barely a dozen were taken-up….

A number of independent enquiries by civil liberties and human rights groups, through retired High Court judges, including myself, have yielded diametrically opposite findings, when compared to that of the official reports.

Misuse of official funds and resources to fund terrorism
In Karnataka, public exchequer funds to the tune of crores of rupees – at the minimum of Rs.110 crores officially and a maximum of Rs. 3000 crores – has been doled out to temples and Hindutva related organizations. In addition to this, land worth crores of rupees has been given to these extreme right organizations, which is reportedly used to finance activities of the Hindutva forces against the minorities. There is little different between the terrorists from outside and the terrorists within. In fact, the terrorists-within pose a greater danger.

Pilgrim’s Progress in Solidarity, Sociability, & Sensitivity

November 26, 2011 by  
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Dalit Woman25 November 2011: We, the participants of National Seminar on “Building Theologies of Solidarity: Interfacing Feminist theology with Dalit theology and Tribal/Adivasi theology”, organised by Board of Theological Education Senate of Serampore College (BTESSC), National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and Student Christian Movement of India (SCMI) came together for the very first time in an interface to commemorate the 30th Year anniversary of the famous first articulation of ‘Sudhra Theology’ by Rev. Dr. AP. Nirmal at the Carey Society public lecture in 1981 and acknowledge how those seeds have taken fruition over years in to Dalit Theology and paved way for all the Indian Contextual theologies. Our coming together becomes immanent for the context today demands our mutual solidarity in overcoming jointly the powers of casteism, patriarchy, capitalism, fundamentalism etc., for these forces have become subtle & deeper in their oppressive natures.

We envisage solidarity among our theologies, for despite our unique particularities, our common pilgrimage for liberation and transformation binds us all to accompany each other in strengthening our resolve. We together boldly want to proclaim that no force of any vigour can deviate and deter our struggle, for justice and peace are our guiding principles in affirming life in all its fullness to all people. Our theologies inter-weave to form a mosaic of diversities knitted well blending co-operation, comradeship, and courage. We celebrate together our communitarian spirit, our spiritualities and our ways of life.

We affirm the significance of the need for the solidarity among Women, Dalits, Tribals and Adivasis, for in solidarity we learn from each other, we listen to each other and we agitate together against the forces that downplay us. We have committed to be sensitive to each other’s needs and issues and pledge to widen our networks among us in making an impact on the life of our communities. We believe that we are created in God’s own image and likeness and so, we condemn the discrimination on the basis of gender, culture, tribe or caste. We recognise that both the differences and commonalities in the experiences of Women, Dalits, Tribals and Adivasis provide a common ground towards liberative solidarity.

We acknowledge that the life-experiences of the people are the basis for the theology towards solidarity among Women, Dalits, Tribals and Adivasis. Our belief in Trinitarian God has been meaningfully experienced in the context of a theology towards solidarity among Feminist theology, Dalit theology and Tribal/Adivasi theology. We ascertain that the theology towards solidarity is in asserting the identities of Women, Dalits, Tribals and Adivasis with a communitarian spirit. We affirm that reclaiming of land and other related resources, for Women, Dalits, Tribals and Adivasis, seeking transformation as a mode of doing theology towards liberative solidarity. We assert that the problematizing of the context needs to be critically revisited. Our search to explore into the critical engagement between the social sciences and theological enterprises for the purpose of sharpening the contextual theologies continues.

We join together in unison to form a solidarity forum of our theologies to document our joint struggles, to strengthen our commitments, to celebrate our communities, to deepen our solidarity and friendships, and to work out collective strategies in overcoming situations of discriminations in our times today.

We walk together crossing our paths in a pilgrimage of hope,
To celebrate, to listen, to learn, to share and to commit our resolve,
We sing together in notes and tunes unique to us for revolution,
To express our protest and to challenge the powers,
We dance together to the rhythms of our beats of life,
To live-outspirituality of dissent and to revive our spirits,
We together narrate our stories of resilience,
We together re-member the heritages of our ancestors,
We together stand in unity till justice is achieved,
We are together and we will be together to witness hope.

– ncci

Evangelist shot dead in Pakistan

November 26, 2011 by  
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Attacco Pastore KarachiPakistan, November 18, 2011: An evangelist was shot dead here on Wednesday (Nov. 16) by an unidentified gunman in what his family believes was a radical Muslim group’s targeting of a Christian.

Zahid Jameel, 25, told Compass that his father, Jameel Saawan, and a helper were opening the doors of their cosmetics shop in the Gulshan-e-Iqbal area of Pakistan’s commercial hub of Karachi on Wednesday morning when a young man appeared and shot his father, first in the neck and then in the face.

The assassin fled on a motorcycle on which two people were waiting, keeping watch for him, Jameel said.

“We firmly believe that my father was killed because of his preaching of the Bible, because there is no other reason,” Jameel said.

His father had not spoken of any threats on his life in recent weeks, though he had received threats after voicing his desire to start a welfare organization for poor Christians in the Essanagri area of Karachi two years ago, Jameel said.

“That could not materialize after he started receiving threats from some unknown forces,” Jameel said. “We do not know who threatened him, but my mother persuaded him not to put his life in danger, for our sake.”

Nevertheless, Jameel said that his father continued to preach and was widely respected for being a vocal supporter of the Christian community.

“We live in a rented apartment and our shops are also on lease – we don’t have any property, and no enemies, which is why we are shocked by our father’s killing,” he said. “It wasn’t a robbery, because the assassin only walked towards my father and shot at him.”

Zahid said that his mother was in a state of shock, as were his three sisters and older brother, Shahid.

“Our father has been gunned down for no reason at all,” Jameel said. “He used to share the Word with Muslims, but I have never heard that he entered into an argument with any person.”

Jameel said that the family had moved to Karachi from Quetta about 10 years ago, with his father starting the cosmetics business two years later.

“My father was a very religious man, and some years ago he decided that it was time for him to reach out to the people and share the Good News with them,” he said. “Every day he would visit several families to share the Word of God and was very content with his life.”

His father used to sit with him at his shop from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., then go off to visit Christian families to share the Bible, Jameel said. On the day of the murder, however, his father reached the shop 15 minutes ahead of him.

“The young boy who helps me in my shop told us that he was opening the locks of the other door when he heard a gunshot,” he said. “The boy then saw my father trying to grasp the assailant, but the man fired another bullet that hit my father in the cheek and exited from the back of his head, killing him instantly.”

Michael Javed, a former member of the Sindh provincial assembly, told Compass that he had known the victim for several years, as both of them are from Quetta.

“Saawan was a very good man and was always eager to help his community,” Javed said. “I also think that he was killed by some religious forces, because he had shared with me once that he was receiving threats from some quarters.”

The former legislator said that no one had come forward to record statements with the police because of fears for their security, and it was highly unlikely that Saawan’s killers would be caught.

“There used to be quite a few cases of such nature in Sindh, but now the situation for minorities is worsening,” he said. “The government needs to make efforts to provide security to our people.”

Napolean Qayyum of the Pakistan People’s Party Minorities Wing told Compass that the PPP-led Sindh government would make all possible efforts to apprehend Saawan’s killers.

“President Asif Zardari’s spokesman has told me that the president had tasked Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan to investigate the incident and report back to him,” he said, adding that Wassan was likely to visit the family today.

Sharing Life Ministry’s Sohail Johnson said he regretted that the killing of the evangelist would instill further fear in Christians in the city.

“Pastor Saawan’s brutal murder shows that the forces of extremism and intolerance will go to any extent to disrupt peace and harmony in Pakistan,” he said.

Although police registered the case on Wednesday (Nov. 16), they have yet to make any progress in the investigation, sources said.

Saawan’s family was preparing for his burial today, still holding onto some hope that one day his killers will be brought to justice.

– cdn

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