Pakistanis Protest against Gojra Killings in Washington
By Victor Gill
Pakistanis in Washington stage a protest against the Gojra killings in front of the Pakistan Embassy and the White House
Washington : (August 13, 2009) Over 300 Pakistani Christians marched to the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington DC on a hot noon for prayer vigil cum protest which was organized by Victor Gill, Manny Alam, Thomas Bhatti, Alfreda Gill Earnest Gulab, Manzur Alam, and Sam Mall in collaboration with Pakistani clergy, namely, Rev. Safeer Alam, Rev Emmanuel Masih, Rev James Latif, Rev, Azhar Alam, Rev Javed Dean, Father Domonic Isaac, Rev Emmanuel Nasir and Rev Shahbaz Khan.
In a much charged atmosphere with black bands on their arms, the crowd chanted loud slogans, "Blasphemy, bundkaro," " blasphemy ghaltfehmi," "Stop Killing Christians in Pakistan," "Stop burning churches in Pakistan," "Aagh Aagh, Bagh Bagh," " Kasur ke Masihi loag, bekasur bekasur."
One minute silence was observed by the crowd while the names of the deceased were called out one by one by Victor Gill. A hymn of God's praise was sung .
"Rub ki howay sana hamaisha... Chorus
Rub ki howay Madah sarayi, Us ki hamad aur sana..."
The crowd prayed for peace and prosperity of Pakistan and the goodwill among its people. Iraq and Afghanistan's peace was also mentioned in prayers as the clergy led the prayer exhorting the people to remember the teaching of Jesus Christ who asked his followers 'to pray for those who persecute you.'
Much was said against the abuse of the blasphemy law which had been often used to kill the people of the minority as well as the majority. "Blasphemy law is the nurturing food and fuel for extremism," said Victor Gill. "With no clear definition of a blasphemy or an insult, the practice of one religion automatically blasphemes the other and vice versa, hence the absurdity of the law."
It was also said that the government itself has created this law because of which people cannot have love, harmony and interfaith relationships among each other.
"By creating this law, government was trying to fix one evil but ended up creating a bigger evil," said Manny Alam. The organizers also announced that this procession was not against Pakistan or Muslims. In fact we need all Muslims of good will to deal with the blasphemy of the blasphemy law.
Muslim representation was done by Dr. Ghazala Qazi from APPNA who addressed the crowd as slogans were chanted. The head of chancery Mr. Zahid Chaudhry, Embassy of Pakistan, also addressed the crowd and stated that the government is trying to help the Christians and punish the criminals. At one point, a protester got close to Mr. Chaudhry to ask a question in an angry manner but was stopped by the organizers.
The procession proceeded to the White House later in the afternoon where they prayed for peace in the world. Many speeches were made by various participants including Azmat Masih, Thomas Bhatti, Tariq Abinazir, Earnest Gulab, Manzur Alam, Azra Gulzar and Sunil Gill from various states.
Iqbal Tareen, a Muslim, who spoke in a forum on Gojra the day before, gave a very fiery speech and expressed condolences with the protesters. At 4PM, the crowd also had a telephonic address from Pakistan by Khalid Gill in which he related to the audience the sufferings and persecutions of the people of Gojra and other incidents of abuse of the blasphemy law which gave rise to minority persecution. The protest ended with a prayer led by the Rev. Emmanuel Masih.