Pakistani Christians and the EDL

Last month the British Pakistani Christian Association held a protest outside the Pakistani Embassy demanding freedom for Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman whose recent death sentence for blasphemy has provoked international revulsion (since exacerbated by the murder of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, who had opposed the sentence). The BPCA’s Wilson Chowdhry wrote up an account of the protest, which has only now come to my attention:

Our protest on Saturday though small was very effective.  Since distributing leaflets and informing the BBC, Premier Christian Radio and other media of our protest, we have noted that there have been an additional 200 signatures to our electronic petition. Directly after the protest we noted 6 new comments on our blog and last night on the BBC 10 O’clock News (closer to 10:15), for the first time ever, a Pakistani Christian Minority concern featured on mainstream news.

That’s right a full 5 minute feature including an interview with Ashiq Masih the husband of Asia ensued.  We have been plugging the BBC with stories since the outset of the scandal and cascaded Ashiq’s contact details (via solicitors working on the Asia Bibi Appeal) to BBC Reporters) and believe wholeheartedly that our group has been a main trigger for the BBC coverage, that occurred last night…

Five guest speakers are listed:

  • Stephen Green (Christian Voice)
  • Alan Craig (Leader Christian Peoples Alliance)
  • Ranbir Singh (Hindu Human Rights Group)
  • Ruby Akhtar (Christian Wing EDL)
  • Samuel Noel (Heston URDU Fellowship- Southall Baptist Church)

Two of these will raise eyebrows: the idea of Stephen Green opposing a blasphemy law is incongruous, since he has himself tried to use archaic British blasphemy laws to destroy those whom he finds offensive – he is also notorious for his sanguinary anti-gay views and ineffectual public protests. Ruby Akhtar, meanwhile, is also activist with the Christian Party (an organisation which I blogged here), but the association with the EDL is of course going to be controversial: the organisation remains generally thuggish, and its animus against Islam and Muslims is expressed in the crudest terms. In comment from May on a website called the Last Crusade, Akhtar explained that

My birth place was Pakistan and alway’s been Christian.

Islam is Evil and every muslim is evil indeed.

Makind teach every muslim must kill Christians,Jews and rest of the Nation.

We christian must join hand and show muslims that west belongs to Lord JESUS and his followers only.

Akhtar has a curious background: in 2008 she appeared in a newspaper story as a “homeless disabled woman” let down by her local council and reportedly coping with a number of medical conditions including, by her own account, Down’s Syndrome; in June 2010 she was convicted of running an unregulated immigration advice business. She has also had various other business interests; her website for these has now gone, although a YouTube video remains.

Chowdhry explained the EDL presence at the protest in response to expressions of dismay in the comments:

The BPCA held a peaceful protest and without invite 10 members of the EDL joined us. One of whom is a Pakistani Christian and heads their Pakistani Christian Wing. All the demonstrators were peaceful and when we asked the Police if the group was high risk or racist they did not believe so. The 10 members that joined us all helped with setting up and deconstruct of our event. No wrong words were spoken and overall their demeanour and support was much appreciated. It was the Christian wing and Jewish Wing of the EDL that joined us and as such we could not see how there presence conflicted with our event. Moreover, they joined us in our chant for freedom of Asia Bibi and signed our petition and did not use our event to promote any personal agenda. We will not be inviting EDL to our next protest, however if they choose to come and demonstrate peacefully with us we will have no issue. These words are spoken having discussed the group in detail with the Met police.

Also:

I am sure elements of the group are far right and I understand your reservations. However, if anyone wants to join our peaceful protest and join in with our shout for change in Pakistan. We will allow them to dos so. The EDL will not get a direct invite, however, any members who are in sypathy with our concerns are free to join. Any rabble rousers will be controlled by the Police and removed from the protest.

l blogged on the EDL “Jewish Division” here.

Chowdhry’s strategy appears to be to get as broad a base of support as possible: he is himself an activist with the progressive Green Party, and the BPCA has the support of Green MEP Jean Lambert.

9 Responses

  1. Look, let’s face it, Birtian has a large and growing populist movement, the EDL, because the gov’t and elites simply refuse to address ANY of the problems posed by radical Islam.

    The EDL isn’t borne of racism and bigotry, it is a grass roots movement that cannot be spliced into the leftist narrative because The Left expresses nothing but contempt and disdain for ordinary people.

    The EDL are the merely the symbol of a people abandonned by their own elites.

    Alan Craig is a good guy. I read his writeup about his recent trip to Nigeria and his accounts of inter-religious violence.

    I’m confident that he has a clear and fair understanding of the horrors religious minorities face in muslim-majority countries suc as Pakistan

    • “Look, let’s face it, Birtian has a large and growing populist movement, the EDL, because the gov’t and elites simply refuse to address ANY of the problems posed by radical Islam.”

      It’s a bunch of hooligans who found out that they can march down the streets and commit borderline violence if they chant against Muslims. Otherwise the police would have them locked up as soon as possible. The rational people are leaving the EDL in droves citing hypocrisy and double standards.

      “The EDL isn’t borne of racism and bigotry, it is a grass roots movement that cannot be spliced into the leftist narrative because The Left expresses nothing but contempt and disdain for ordinary people.”

      It is born of racism and bigotry. Their chants against Pakistani’s and non-extremist Muslims, marches against mosques. Not once has the EDL just marched against extremists. They always seem to march against non-extremist Muslims and Pakistani’s.

      “The EDL are the merely the symbol of a people abandonned by their own elites.”

      I don’t understand. Isn’t the right wing all about being left alone by the government and as less government intrusion as possible? And you want them to hold your hand? Seriously, grow up. The laws of this country allow for freedom of religion. Christianity is no longer the dominant religion in the world. There are going to be other religions and cultures in this country, whether you support the multicultural argument or not.

      “I’m confident that he has a clear and fair understanding of the horrors religious minorities face in muslim-majority countries suc as Pakistan”

      i doubt it. Much like the journalists at papers like the Washington Post and New York times that cover the Arab and Muslim world, he probably does not even speak the languages.

  2. Look, let’s face it, Birtian has a large and growing populist movement, the EDL, because the gov’t and elites simply refuse to address ANY of the problems posed by radical Islam.

    The EDL isn’t borne of racism and bigotry, it is a grass roots movement that cannot be spliced into the leftist narrative because The Left expresses nothing but contempt and disdain for ordinary people.

    The EDL are the merely the symbol of a people abandonned by their own elites.

    Alan Craig is a good guy. I read his writeup about his recent trip to Nigeria and his accounts of inter-religious violence.

    I’m confident that he has a clear and fair understanding of the horrors religious minorities face in muslim-majority countries such as Pakistan

  3. As a Muslim, I can tell you it’s quite annoying when another Muslim does something bad thousands of miles away and the morons here at home take it out on you.

    It’s also a little funny when the morons pretend that thay support human rights, and at the same time advocate for a genocide against Muslims.

    • I’ve always thought it must be ahrd for the Muslims here. They go about their daily lives, abiding by the law, paying their taxes etc. However, as soon as a nutcase they have enver heard about on the other side of the world does something, they will get hammered from all directions for being just like that nutcase. Why be a good citizen then if, as soon as something happens on the other side of the world, you will be labelled a terrorist and murderer?

  4. Well, your censorship leavesyou in the company of two types; anti-semites and radical islamists.

    Tens of thousands of simpletons marched in Pakistan earlier to day calling for the death penalty for anyone who “insults” Islam.

    1000s of lawyers have offered their services to Taseer’s killer free of charge, and you’re going to tell me that Stephen Green is the fundamentalist to worry about?

    How many spliffs have you sparked up over the years, eh?

    You’re out of touch, and are a godsend to the EDL

    • Ah yes, the banned Jamaat e Dawai. There’s a reason they are banned by Muslims in a Muslim country. Ofcourse, has that stopped the Muslim politicians and other Muslims in Pakistan from calling the blasphemy law man-made and insisting on going through with the bill to repeal it? Nope. Has that stopped the 10s of 1000s that did support Taseer from speaking out? Nope.

      Tell me, just how many people have been executed in Pakistan, or the Muslim countries, for converting from Islam? And how many people have actually converted?

      I sure hope I am a godsend to the EDL. The EDL will find out soon enough ^ ^

  5. I sure hope I am a godsend to the EDL. The EDL will find out soon enough ^ ^

    Oooo, I take it you cannot grow a full beard.

  6. […] activism has featured on this blog a number of times (for example, here and here) Details about The Sexual Dead End are scarce, although according to the British Library catalogue […]

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