by Timothy Tay
When Ali Jinnah decided to break rank with India’s Gandhi and form the new state of Pakistan in 1947 he sought to create a democratic society with freedom of religion guaranteed through constitution and keeping the government secular.
In 1979 the civilian government under Ali Bhutto was replaced by General Zia-ul-Haq who introduced a blasphemy law to appease the muslim radicals in the society.
This law had given grounds to radicals to persecute Christians.
Martyr Feroz Masih:
who was killed by Karachi Police firing in front of Governor House on February 13, 1997, during a peaceful protest procession against Muslim mob attack on a Christian village Shanti Nagar in Punjab province of Pakistan. In clouds of tear gas shelling and police firing on Christian protestors, hundreds became unconscious, dozens were injured while nine received bullet injuries and more than 1,000 were arrested. Feroz Masih was among those nine critical bullet wounded Christian who were rushed to JPMC Hospital where he died with his one hand tightened in police hand cuff to his bed.
Bishop John Joseph:
who was mysteriously murdered by secret agencies of Pakistan on May 6, 1998, in Sahewal city of Punjab province of Pakistan. Martyr Bishop John Joseph was Catholic Bishop of Faisalabad Dioceses who led rallies and observed hunger strikes against blasphemy laws and raised voice for oppressed Pakistani Christians on International forums. There were gatherings and prayers on anniversary of Martyr Bishop John Joseph organized by Catholic Church of Pakistan and socio-political organizations funded by him up to year 2002. Now years have been passed and none of any organization has bothered to issue any press release on anniversary of Bishop John Joseph.
Nawaz Masih and James Masih:
were first Christian Martyrs of Pakistan who were killed by Police firing in Rawalpindi when police opened fire on peaceful protest procession of Christians against nationalization of missionary Schools, Hospitals and Colleges during ZA Bhutto government in 1972. This protest procession was taken out from Gordon College Rawalpindi and marching towards Governor House to present memorandum against nationalization of Christian institutions. Like Martyr Feroz Masih, Martyr Nawaz Masih and Martyr James Masih were also not Bishops or high profile Christian leaders but common laymen who had love for Christian nation in Pakistan. The families of Nawaz Masih and James Masih were not supported by any Christian political groups or Bishops who had been enjoying benefits of Christian institutions and living like feudal lords. It is very unfortunate that none of any Christian clergy and association have ever celebrated or marked anniversary of our Martyrs.
There are Martyrs of Essa Nagri in Karachi:
who laid their lives defending Christian children and women when Muslim land mafia attacked on this largest Christian colony in Sindh province of Pakistan. These Two Martyrs of Essa Nagri have graves in Awami Church of this colony and people pay homage and offer prayers on their graves.
We must not forget but honor those Christians with award of “Martyrs” who were killed by extremist Muslim groups on accusations of blasphemy weather they not sacrificed their lives to ensure basic democratic rights through a political process and voiced on streets of Pakistan against regime controlled by Muslim majority.
Let us remember:
Tahir: who was killed in Lahore jail awaiting trial of blasphemy, Bantu Masih who was stabbed to death in lockup of Lahore police on blasphemy charges, Manzoor Masih who was gunned down in front of Lahore High Court when coming out after hearing of case under blasphemy, Rashid Brothers who were murdered in Faisalabad Court House when came to face blasphemy charges in police custody and other Christian victims of blasphemy being killed in jails or roads.
Martyrs of Gojra city in Punjab: (seven children, women and elder)
It is horrible incident of August 1, 2009, when Muslim mob attacked Christian Town in Gojra city and burnt alive seven children, women and elder.
Shahbaz Bhatti, Federal Minority Minister:
was assassinated on March 2, 2011, in capital city Islamabad. The banned outfit Tehreek Talban Punjab accepted responsibility of killing Shahbaz Bhatti and warned same fate for anyone who comments on blasphemy law. As a federal minority Minister Shahbaz Bhatti has announced to revise blasphemy to prevent its misuse against religious communities which was disliked by extremist Muslim groups in Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Two notable politicians had been murdered this year so far because of their opposition against this legislation:
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