While your government has condemned the actions of Al Qaeda and other international terrorists, it continues to permit religious terrorism against Christians at home. A case in point is the Rev. Parvez Masih, a Christian pastor in the District Jail i
Rev. Masih has been imprisoned since April of 2001. He has been charged under Section 295c of Pakistani law: "insulting the Prophet." No bail has been granted.
The penalty-the only penalty-is death.
Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone "has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion," and freedom "to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance."
Obviously, Pakistan does not subscribe to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Instead, it allows Muslims to use its blasphemy laws to disinherit Christians, drive them out of business, and have the state conveniently dispose of them-through execution. Like the witchcraft laws of Medieval Europe and Colonial America, the standard of proof is virtually non-existent, and Pakistani courts, such as the one in Sialkot, give more credibility to Muslim clerics than to Christian pastors.
So we ask you, Ambassador Qazi, how much longer will your government keep Rev. Masih in jail? How many more beatings will he suffer from guards who are trying to force his conversion to Islam? When does the District Court in Sialkot-where two out of three justices have remarked that a Muslim cleric's word is better than a Christian's-plan to execute him?
You claim to be our friends, to be our allies. Do you really think that we can consider you to be our friends, when you are using repressive and unjust laws to imprison and kill Christians?
Ambassador Qazi, there is no middle ground here. Either your country will oppose religious terrorism in all of its manifestations, or we will simply be unable to trust you or your government. Countries that kill Christians-or any other religious minority-simply for their beliefs can never be considered our true friends-or allies.
If your government releases Rev. Masih, you will have taken a giant step in showing the world's two billion Christians that you are evolving into a nation that respects truth and justice, including the right of every human being to choose his or her own religion.
We ask you-both in the name of God and in the name of humanity-to release Rev. Masih. We ask you to release him, because we need to be able to trust each other, and because it is simply the right thing to do. Release him, and then repeal the blasphemy laws that make a mockery of both your government and the religion of Islam!
Ambassador Qazi, history will remember how you and your government acted in the case of Rev. Masih. And the Christians of the world will never forget.
Rev. Masih has already been pushed beyond the limits of human endurance. Please act while he still lives, for his martyrdom would be to your government's eternal shame and disgrace.
James R. Reese, KGOTJ
Priory of the Holy Angels
Scottish Knights Templar
Autonomous Sovereign Military Order
of the Temple of Jerusalem