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Islamists call off Bible ban threat: The Church of England Newspaper, June 24, 2011 p 8. June 25, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Persecution.
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Sami ul-Haq

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Christian rights groups have praised the decision by an Islamic political party to back down from its threat to petition the Pakistan Supreme Court to ban the Bible under the provisions of the country’s blasphemy laws.

On 13 June, Sami ul-Haq, leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Assembly of Islamic Clergy, or JUI-S), told reporters he had censured a lieutenant for demanding the ban.

In a 30 May press conference in Lahore, a top leader of the JUI-S, Abdul Rauf Farooqui, told a press conference that lawyers for his party were preparing a petition asking the Supreme Court to ban the Bible as passages from Genesis, Exodus, I Kings, 2 Samuel, and the Gospel of Matthew were “immoral” and “pornographic.”

Passages from the Old Testament, including Genesis 19:33-36’s portrayal of the drunkenness of Lot and his daughters; the story of David and Bathsheba from 2 Samuel, and Jesus’ rebuke of Peter from Matthew 26 “strongly offend Muslims, who hold all prophets and holy books in high esteem as part of religious belief and never even think of committing any blasphemy against them,” Mr Farooqui said.

The Church of Pakistan’s Bishop of Lahore, the Rt Rev Alexander Malik denounced Farooqui’s petition. Banning the Bible would violate the religious freedoms guaranteed by Pakistan’s constitution, the Bishop said, and would serve only to inflame sectarian tensions.

However, Sami ul-Haq last week told reporters he had reprimanded Farooqui for his comments. “We believe in religious solidarity; I enquired with the person who demanded banning the Holy Bible. All Muslims are obliged to respect Divine books but this also goes for the followers of other religions”, he said.

Called the “Father of the Taliban” by the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington DC think tank, ul-Haq is the director and chancellor of Pakistan’s Darul uloom Haqqania madrassa. The Islamist seminary educated many of the top Taliban leaders, including its fugitive chief, Mullah Omar and is widely believed to have served as the “launching pad for the Taliban movement in the early 1990s” the Jamestown Foundation reports.

Release International, which had led protests against the Bible ban in the West, welcomed the news. But its chairman, Andy Dipper said the “call to ban the Bible in the first place reveals just how precarious the situation has become for Pakistan’s Christian minority.”

“Intolerance towards non-Muslims appears to be intensifying – reflected in the assassinations of senior figures calling for the reform of the blasphemy laws. Moderate Muslims often say there must be no coercion in religion. Pakistan’s Islamic extremists must take that message to heart,” Mr Dipper said.

“Intolerance towards non-Muslims appears to be intensifying – reflected in the assassinations of senior figures calling for the reform of the blasphemy laws. Moderate Muslims often say there must be no coercion in religion. Pakistan’s Islamic extremists must take that message to heart,” Mr. Dipper said.

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