Timely and relevant editorial in today's Daily Times of Pakistan, in full:
Kudos to the Christian and Jewish church!
"In the United States a number of people said to be related to the leader of Pakistan’s Jama’at al-Dawa either face deportation or are under the threat of deportation. One is his alleged brother (he denies it) Muhammad Masud, the imam of a Boston mosque, while Mahmood Hamid and Abdul Hannan, also clerics, are under a shadow because of their alleged familial connections with the leader of Jama’at al-Dawa."
"Who has come to their defence? Deacon Mike Iwanowicz, of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, Rabbi Barry Starr of Temple Israel and the Rev Deborah Cayer of the Unitarian Church of Sharon. They have dismissed the family link as ‘guilt by association’ and defended the Muslim clerics. If the said Islamists are not deported they will owe their residence in the US to these Christians and Jews. Can we too come to the rescue of the Christian church in Pakistan when it is under threat from such laws as Blasphemy? Can some of us realise that it is wrong to burn down the churches — the last one was in Sangla Hill near Lahore — of our Christian citizens?"
1) The editorial is somewhat misleading. Imams Abdul Hannan and Muhammed Masood aren't facing possible deportation becausee they are related to Hafiz Saeed. Hannan and Masood were arrested as part of a nation-wide sweep in November 2006, when 33 people (mostly Pakistani) were arrested on charges of religious visa fraud. The connection to Saeed apparently became known after that. We need to wait and see what happens when Imams Hannan and Masood have their immigration hearings and/or court trials. Let the justice system do its work.
2) I'm delighted to read a Pakistani newspaper editorial decrying the persecution of Christians in Pakistan (I don't believe there are any Jews left there). When the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) talks about being denied their "freedom of religion" because people are asking questions about their leadership and financial matters, it makes me want to scream. The ISB, Muslim American Society (MAS) and Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) are only too eager to claim that their religious freedoms are being denied in the United States, for all manner of (usually ridiculous) reasons. Yet they are silent about Christian churches being burned to the ground in Pakistan and Indonesia and Turkey. Not a peep from the ISB, MAS or CAIR when Christians are attacked, arrested and jailed for blasphemy in Pakistan. There is tremendous religious persection going on around the world. I'd love for once for ISB/MAS/CAIR to talk about that, and to acknowledge that the U.S. offers perhaps the greatest religious freedom of any country on the planet Earth.
Back to former Imam Masood and his interfaith supporters from Sharon, MA: It could be brilliant, actually, if Muhammed Masood were to be deported back to Pakistan. Then he could use all that he's learned about interfaith dialogue and practice it in Pakistan, where it is sorely needed. He could invite his interfaith friends to visit him and they can all hold workshops to explain the tenets of their faiths. Masood could teach the Pakistani terrorist groups who are sending young men to be suicide bombers (which happens nearly every day), that it's wrong, that Islam is really a religion of peace which forbids suicide. It could be a fantastic opportunity for Mahood and his interfaith friends. One door might close, but many others will open!