The Plight of Christians in Pakistan – An Interview With Sabatina James

By • on January 9, 2013

Non-Muslims are often persecuted in many member states of the Organsiation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).  However, the OIC spends much of its time lecturing Western countries about religious tolerance.  They have been lobbying for a global blasphemy law so that Western countries are effectively brought into line with the ‘human rights’ philosophy of countries like Pakistan.

UNHRC Resolution 16/18, which the OIC has been pushing, talks about tackling discrimination based on religion or belief.  If this is something that they genuinely want to address then they should do it within their own countries rather than at the United Nations.  The OIC clearly does not know what religious tolerance means!

By accommodating the demands of the OIC Western governments are dragging our human rights standards down to the level of countries like Pakistan.  It is therefore likely that the result of such accommodation will be that non-Muslims are treated as shamefully in Western countries as they are in places like Pakistan.  This is completely unacceptable.  By accommodating the demands of the OIC, Western governments are endorsing the way non-Muslims are treated in OIC member states.  In the following video, Sabatina James outlines the plight of Christians in Pakistan.

Sabatina James, an ex-Muslim of Pakistani origin, explains the dire situation for those in Pakistan and elsewhere who do not accept Islam as their religion, but are finding that Christianity is a more humanitarian religion and are putting their faith in Jesus. A human rights disaster usually ignored by our governments.

Christmas interview with Sabatina James from EuropeNews TV on Vimeo.

Transcript (Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff = Bold text; Sabatina James = Non Bold text):

Sabatina, a very warm welcome to Vienna. I am very happy you are here.  You came to Vienna in the occasion of the anniversary of the human rights declaration. And here we are talking about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the United Nations in 1948.  You are in Vienna because you want to bring attention the plight of Christians worldwide, who because of their belief are persecuted, and you also want to focus especially on the situation in Pakistan and I ask you to tell us a bit about the context and what the situation is like.

First and foremost, I want to talk about Asia Bibi Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian, who worked in a fruit farm in Pakistan, and she bucketed water for the other workers at the behest of a farmer. And when she wanted to pour the water, the Muslim women refused to drink the water because it had been touched by Christian and because it became unclean. And then she was asked to renounce her Christian faith. She refused. She was beaten up.  She was taken to the police and on November 8, 2010, she received the death penalty due to insulting Islam and the blasphemy law.

Does this mean she is now in jail?

She has been jailed for two years. She has 5 children and a husband…

…Christmas is drawing near…

Precisely.  So when we here in Austria, in Germany, celebrate Christmas, she will spend Christmas in jail, just like many other prisoners.  And I think it is important that we here in the West show that we have not forgotten these people. And what I think it is very important to make clear what a blasphemy law can cause.

Yes, that is what I want to ask you. How is this possible? What kind of law is this in Pakistan, one that allows for a Pakistani citizen, who happens to be Christian, to be thrown in jail. How can this happen?

The blasphemy law is codified in paragraph 295 ABC, and according to that, everyone who criticizes Islam and the prophet Mohammed and the Koran in any way shall be subject to jail time and the death penalty. Pakistan naturally does this because it knows that it is subject to international observation. It is interesting that many people who are jailed due to blasphemy die in jail. You can see that in Iran. They no longer give people their medicine when they are ill. A short time ago, a Christian died in an Eritrean jail. However, they can’t officially say “We killed him.” But they refused the medicine and they … Police killed an old man in Pakistan.  It was a man, more than 80 years old. His crime was that his son fell in love with a Muslim girl. And this Muslim girl, he ran away with her because of course the Muslim girl’s parents did not allow her being together with him and then they handed the father over to police. And the father was beaten to death by the police. You do not hear about this in the media. This is part of everyday life.

But now I still want to ask you… this is a very important question.  There is so much hate, that you have just told us about, in these people who beat up Christians and throw them in jail. Where does all this hatred against come from, especially in the Muslim world, but unfortunately also already in Europe.  This has also spilled into Europe. Where do we find this hatred?

In the life of the prophet Mohammed. He simply preached this hatred against the Christians. That is the problem. When the prophet Mohammed first began preaching Islam, he had the more friendly suras in the Koran, the Meccan suras, but at the time he still had hope that the Jews and the Christians would accept him as the last prophet in history.

But both the Jews and the Christians rejected him as the messenger of God and this is when the great persecution began. The Banu Quraiza, the Jewish tribe, was executed. Mohammed decapitated many, many Jews. And when the Sunnis (Sunna means “The deeds of the prophet Mohammed”) you do what the prophet Mohammed did. He is the greatest moral example, one you should imitate, because there is no greater role model.

“Al Insan Al Kamil”, says the Koran, if I remember correctly.

Exactly. And this is the reason why Mohammed is always seen as a role model and if this is the role model, that he always killed the Jews and persecuted the Christians and that the tenet of the trinity is seen as disbelief and made-up. I am of the opinion that the status of Jews and Christians is pretty clearly explained in the Koran.  For example, sura 9:29, which clearly states that Jews and Christians must be fought against until they feel subdued.  What I find interesting is that it is always the “nice” suras like sura 2:56 are quoted when Islam is still in the minority, but NEVER when it is in the majority.

What does this sura say?

Sura 2:56: “There is no compulsion in religion.”

Sabatina, you yourself have left Islam, you have become a Christian, a Catholic. What would happen to you if you were still living in Pakistan? Would this step be accepted, even if grudgingly, even if teeth-gnashingly, or would your problems be great?

I believe that a member of my family in Pakistan would kill me.  That would be the first taboo, it wouldn’t even have to make it to the state. But assuming my family would not do it, the state of Pakistan would jail me, because I committed a great sin.  According to shariah law, a woman must be jailed for life, until she converts to Islam. The conditions should be such that the woman succumbs to the pressure and returns to Islam. In the end it means life in jail. And men are subject to the death penalty according to the saying of the prophet Mohammed: “Whoever changes his religion, kill him.” and we find this is the shariah. And all this is very important, that all the Islamic groups distance themselves from that.

What is your opinion…. There are those who say that there is actually no difference between Islam and Christianity, that we are all descendants of Abraham. Where do you see the differences between Islam and Christianity   You lived both sides. You now live the Christian side, but you also lived the Islamic side. How did you experience the differences personally?

Well, if it didn’t make a difference to convert to Christianity I would be very naive to make this step to endanger my life, not to see my parents for ten years, if everything is the same. But it is not the same.  There are many comparisons of the founders of the religions who react completely differently. They are the highest moral instances in a religion, they set the norms of what a religion is like and how one reacts in certain situations. It is Mohammed in the Koran and Jesus in the Bible.

And when I look at the way Jesus reacted when a woman who had committed adultery came to him… he exculpated her, gave mercy, and said: “Whoever is without sin should cast the first stone.” The same happens to Mohammed, a woman who has committed adultery, and he told her she would be stoned to death. Well, it can’t be more contrary. If this is just one religion it would be completely contradictory. God would not know what he wants.

The second version: The first person Jesus meets after his rise from the dead is a woman.  This in a time in which women were not even allowed to bear witness in court.  A revolution! More than any women’s rights movement has ever done for a woman, this is what Jesus did back then. And when I look at this with Mohammed…  In the Koran you find that the testimony of a woman is worth only half of that of a man. And a prayer is disturbed if a woman passes. The same happens when an animal passes. And Aisha said this to the prophet the prophet’s youngest wife, asked him: “Why did you equate us with donkeys?” and the women often asked Mohammed why they are most of the inhabitants of hell, because this is a saying of the prophet Mohammed, that he saw hell and that most of hell’s inhabitants are women.  I wonder how he got there…

What do you say to those people, and there are many, not least many in the Catholic church and sadly in the other Christian churches, who say, well, let’s hope for a kind of Martin Luther, who will reform Islam, who will throw out the “evil” suras? What do you say to these people that Islam can be reformed that perhaps it will be compatible with our values, our principles of democracy and our views of human rights?

Martin Luther did not take anything out of the Bible and said “All of this is antidemocratic and is thus no longer valid. All of you become normal and peaceful.” No, Martin Luther did something entirely different. He translated the Bible.  He said: “This is what it says. And when you read the Bible,

and you are a crusader, then you can only realize that you are acting in total contrast to the person Jesus.”

But when you read the Koran and you are a peaceful Muslim and you look at the Prophet Mohammed, then all you can think is: “If I act peacefully, then I act wrongfully.”  And this is the great difference.   There is no chance for this kind of Martin Luther.

Where we do have a chance is when we have the Muslims here in Europe that we engage in a dialogue with them in the sense of: “We respect you, but we would appreciate if you …” and I now use Germany as an example, DITIB has great influence on Turkey, they could very well, I think,

make it possible that we Catholics can build a church there.

If they only wanted it…

Exactly! And does no one demand that? This is what I am asking myself.

Well, because our politicians do not want to admit that we do have a problems and you do a lot of enlightening.  You mention over and over that politicians are not really present and not really helpful with respect to education about Islam but that you rather hope for NGOs. What are your thoughts?

I think most politicians are tied to their party programs and to whatever comes from the EU and those above.

What about a theological solution to this problem that we can somehow work on making these religious laws, Shariah, somehow compatible with the western world?

I find it necessary to disengage from Mohammed’s penal laws.  That the important mullahs and muftis say, “Mohammed was a person who lived at that time and at that time he started these wars.” “But we distance ourselves from all that, and we do not want all of that to be transferred to today.” Those fatwas are a necessity. And of course there many secular Muslims and they are not really our problem, but those who want to cling on to Mohammed’s teachings. They are our problem.  And we must demand from the Islamic faith communities, they have the obligation, Islam and all its groups have an obligation to simply distance themselves from these antidemocratic aspects of the prophet Mohammed and so we avoid cheating like “We believe in human rights as long as we are in a minority situation.”  But I believe that this requires that the Western world does not betray democracy. Out of fear.  And further their appeasement politics and that western groups defend democracy and the freedom of their countries.

  • Elsa

    Thank you, Elisabeth and Sabatina, for making so clear the roots of what we are up against – roots that go back all the way to the Qur’an. I remember the first time I heard the story of the woman who had committed adultery – that in the end Mohammed had her stoned. My first thought: there is no possibility of any connection between Islam and Jesus.

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