ISLAMABAD: Members of the Christian Awakening Movement held a protest here demanding the resignation of Member of National Assembly (MNA) Molana Abdul Akbar Chitrali for insulting the Bible during a speech at the lower house of parliament.
They gathered outside the National Press Club and said Abdul Akbar Chitrali of Jamaat-e-Islami party while speaking against the policy of giving additional marks to Hafize Quran or the Bible seeking admission to medical colleges.
“The gospel, Torah and the psalms are canceled (scriptures). We believe in all of them and don’t reject them but Quran is permanent and will remain till the judgment day,” he said on the floor of the assembly on March 28.
Hundreds of Christians condemned Chitrali on social media for what they said insulting the Bible with some demanding a public apology while some others wanted his resignation from parliament.
About 20 members of the Christian Awakening Movement shouted slogans outside the press club, demanding Chitrali’s resignation.
Leaders of the group that works to build socio-political awareness among Pakistani Christians said if a similar statement wad made against Quran in the Muslim majority nation it would lead to riots claiming hundreds of lives.
Millions should have joined in condemnation but we Christians lack national respect, the movement’s president Shahzad Sohatra told UCA News.
These state officials are answerable to none. The National Assembly speaker didn’t even give adequate time for the Christian politician to counter it, he said
Naveed Aamir Jeeva, a Christian and member of the National Assembly, told the assembly that Chitrali was wrong.
You should stay within your limit. You don’t have the authority to speak about the holy books of other religions… We are disappointed with this statement. This house is for all religions in Pakistan. The constitution grants equal rights to majority and minority, Jeeva amid interruptions.
The interfaith Rawadari Tehreek (movement for tolerance) urged Chitrali to apologize to the Christian community or face legal charges.
The nonsense of Chitrali about Ilhami (Abrahamic) books is condemnable. It has hurt the Christian community of Pakistan. It shows the mindset of such people, its president Samson Salamat said in an April 1 statement.
The implementation of blasphemy law is limited to the religion of the majority. Upon getting a chance, everyone has ridiculed religions of the minority communities, it said.
Pakistan’s controversial law on blasphemy such as insulting Quran is a sensitive topic and has been used repeatedly to justify extra-judicial killings.
Allegations of desecrating the Qu’ran or insulting the Prophet Muhammad have resulted in the torching of people and whole villages.
This is not the first time Christianity has been insulted in the Islamic Republic.