Joseph Francis Case: Pakistani Muslims converting to benefit from blasphemy law: By Nazir S Bhatti
Mr. Joseph Francis is in prison which is alarming bell for clergy in Pakistan that they can also face such situation if background check is not properly conducted of Muslims who approach them for fake conversions. If Bishop Samuel Azriah have thoroughly investigated about Mohammad Basharat before permitting him residence in Church premises then Joseph Francis might have not fallen in prison. It is moment of thought for every Pastor, Rev. Fr. and Bishop that if Joseph Francis can be victim of conspiracy of Muslims they can be too. When any Pakistani Muslim enters in our Christian society we must remember that a wolf is in a herd of sheep’s. The Muslim who joins our society for harmony and brotherhood is our guest but a Muslim who conspires a fake conversion and enters in our congregation may be a wolf.
The conversion to other religions is an important aspect of history of sub-continent of India. The preachers evangelized Christianity and converted Hindus while Muslim invader Mohammad Bin Qasim conquered some part of India and converted Hindus to Islam by force.
After independence of Pakistan in 1947, conversion was freely exercised by Christians and Muslims. It was prime time of religious freedom and harmony when Bishop K L Nasir and Pastor Haq conducted open dialogues with Muslim clerics in mixed gatherings of thousands of Muslims and Christians. Those who accepted Christianity before 1970, became true believers and played positive role in congregations of different denomination because that conversion was ‘Call” from Lord.
The implementation of Islamic laws of Apostasy and Blasphemy in Islamic Republic of Pakistan was an end to religious freedom and harmony among different religious communities. The Muslim majority used blasphemy law against Christians on business rivalry and personal grudges. The victimization of Christians suddenly turned in social crisis when capital punishment was legislated on blasphemy laws.
There was one person named Joseph Francis who was visiting blasphemy victims in police stations and jails when their relatives were in hiding on fear of Muslim extremists. He was providing legal aid assistance and appearing in court hearings of blasphemy victims when Muslim radicals were firing and killing accused Christians on door steps of High Courts.
I do not personally know much about Joseph Francis because I only met him once in Greenland Restaurant of Karachi to discuss cooperation between Pakistan Christian Congress and his Pakistan Christian National Party in 1988. I denied any future partnership with Pakistan Christian National Party due to its close contacts with Pakistan Peoples Party PPP.
I was usually receiving CLAAS handout every month and reading reports on Christian persecutions. He was appearing on front pages of newspapers in meetings of Muslim leaders in Lahore which I never appreciated being a Christian nationalist.
I was hearing stories of his support to victims of blasphemy law and establishment of a shelter in Lahore for Christian women. I termed him as failed political leader but successful human right activists in Pakistan. I liked him when he publicly announced to leave Pakistan Peoples Party PPP in 2008, but I never initiated any communication with him.
I was grieved to receive an e-Mail about arrest of Joseph Francis on July 12, 2009. I thought, there will be an uproar in Pakistan on his arrest on such accusations but there were no comments from Shahbaz Bhatti, Minority Minister or from Mr. Michael, minister in Punjab government or from any human right activist or any Christian leader nor there was any press conference or press release from clergy. Are we so feeling less and cowards? Where are friends of Joseph Francis? Why every one is silent? Are we afraid of Muslims?
But, I shall write about him because he is my Christian brother, he is my Christian national and he struggled for my Christian nation. Let us all write or speak for Joseph Francis because he cared for our blasphemy victims. We must be very vigilant and nationalist for our future conduct with Muslim majority because we have to secure our integrity and respect in Pakistan.
“Blasphemy Law” a sword on neck of 20 million Pakistani Christian turns to be a garland when Muslims convert to Christianity in Pakistan. When a wicked Muslim knocks at door of any Pastor in darken night of any city or town of Pakistan, he is warmly welcomed and tea is served to express brotherhood, love and harmony. The Pastor feels blessed when Muslim guest reveals that he is secretly studying Holy Bible from years but with fear of his influential family can not accept Christianity. This clever Muslim request for admission in any Christian seminary that he may study more Biblical theology before conversion. When that Muslim leaves, the Pastor kneels down and prays all night for blessing of Lord to provide him opportunity to bring one soul on his altar. These are true feelings of any Pastor or an evangelist who travels hundreds of miles to spread word of Lord in this world. The Pastor rushes to office of Bishop next day to inform about visit of that Muslim previous and recommends for his seminary admission. The Bishop accepts Muslim as a student to add few more credit to his services to Lord Jesus Christ. The Muslim announces next day in a local Tea Shop that soon he is going to Europe or North America which surprises his friends. It is a brief story of conversion in Islamic Republic of Pakistan where Muslim convert aims at bright future and success while clergy takes it as a noble cause of evangelism. There is apostasy law which prohibits any Muslim to convert but empowers enforced conversion to Islam of any infidel.
I know one Pakistani Muslim in USA, who converted to Christianity and joined Gujranwala seminary. He left seminary after two years and turned to Islam and visited UK with a drama group of Pakistani Television but Muslim advocates told him that he can not seek asylum in UK because he not fulfill political or religious standards being Pakistani Muslim. The said clever Muslim went back to Pakistan and converted to Christianity again. This Muslim convinced a visiting US Pakistani Pastor for his arrangement for further study of Christian religion in USA. The visiting US Pakistani to enhance his evangelical credentials with help of his ministry made entry to that converted Muslim in USA. That Muslim applied for asylum in USA under blasphemy law in Pakistan which may be potential life threat on his return and his case was granted. He became regular Church worshiper to believe every Church member that he is true believer of Christ and a Christian. He sponsored his family along with children of his relatives who also received lawful immigration to USA. After few years he left Christianity and turned to Islam again when he was granted status. He married his sons and daughter performing Islamic rituals and are freely visiting Muslim relatives in Pakistan. Where is fear of life for that converted Muslim in Pakistan now? He have no fear because he is Muslim again and enjoying blasphemy law as benefit which is sword for Christians. This is one case of Muslim convert in USA and there may be hundreds in USA, Canada and Europe.
It is my belief that Joseph Francis will be out of prison in days but we must be aware of Wolves and not let them enter in our herds that any other Joseph Francis may be not their victim.