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THE CATHOLIC HERALD JULY 22 2011

BBeeccoommee aa ffaann ooff TThhee CCaatthhoolliicc HHeerraalldd At Facebook.com

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Pakistani agents ‘intimidate’ campaigner’s family

BY ED WEST

RELATIVES of Britain’s most prominent Pakistani Christian campaigner have been visited on three separate occasions by Pakistani security officials in what he claims is a “campaign of intimidation”.

Agents from Pakistan’s InterServices Intelligence (ISI) agency made the visits to the parents-in-law of Wilson Chowdhry, the director of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), accusing him of fomenting anti-Pakistani activities following the group’s protests in London on July 2.

The officers accused Mr

Chowdhry’s wife’s family of encouraging anti-Islamic messages through the BPCA and have stated that they will continue to make impromptu visits to the elderly couple.

The visits, which have made the family “upset and anxious”, according to Mr Chowdhry, came after the Christian campaigner from east London claimed he was manhandled at the Pakistani High Commission in London in May.

The British activist, although of Pakistani descent, does not hold a Pakistani passport and had to apply for a visa to visit the country, which he and his Pakistani-born wife had not visited for two years due to his

Christians urged to support Holy Land BY MARK GREAVES

THE ARCHBISHOP of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster have urged people in Britain to give money to support embattled Christians in the Holy Land.

The two archbishops were speaking ahead of a two-day conference in London organised to highlight the “haemorrhage” of the region’s Christian population. At the conference were Foreign Office Minister Lord Howell and Cardinal JeanLouis Tauran, the Vatican’s top official for interreligious dialogue, as well as Anglican bishops and Jewish and Muslim representatives.

Dr Rowan Williams said a fund would be set up in collaboration with Friends of the Holy Land, which was originally Catholic but is now ecumenical, to support “community development and work creation”, especially among Palestinian Christians.

He said he hoped that the fund would generate enough income to “sustain hope for a viable future for Christians in the Holy Land”.

Dr Williams said: “We’re convinced that the seriousness of the situation of Christians in Israel and Palestine is still not well enough understood by many opinion formers and decision makers in Britain and elsewhere in the West.”

He said that his and Archbishop Vincent Nichols’s concerns were echoed by Pope Benedict XVI during his visit last year. “The Pope very much endorsed our sense that we needed to raise the profile in this country of Christians in the Holy Land,” Dr Williams said.

In an address Cardinal Tauran said Christians in the region acted as a bridge between cultures, bringing “openness, a sense of human dignity”, a concept of freedom and a view of politics that could lead to democracy.

Meanwhile, Prince el Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, who expressed frustration at being unable to attend the conference, said in a letter that “perhaps we should start thinking less and doing more”.

The prince, an interfaith campaigner who has met the Pope several times, said: “Perhaps instead of speaking of ‘understanding’ and ‘coexistence’ we should begin, quite simply, by working with each other towards common goals.”

In the letter he said that “panic” over the diminishing of Christians in the Holy Land was felt by Muslims, too. Arab Christians, he said, were “custodians” of the Arabic language and “helped pioneer the ‘Arab awakening’ of the 19th and 20th century”. Christians were “an integral part” of Middle Eastern civilisation, he said. Feature: Page 8 Letters Page 13

work in Britain and the increasing threat of violence in the country. But as a high-profile campaigner for Pakistan’s 2.8 million Christians, he claims that he was obstructed by the London bureau.

Mr Chowdhry said: “I had been to the High Commission five times, without any luck, so then my wife went. She completed everything, and they then said they needed to interview to me. It was again another hurdle.”

After another unsuccessful meeting Mr Chowdhry claims he was assaulted. He said: “As I got outside the two security officers grabbed me and dragged me inside. They only stopped when one hurt his fist on my cheek, and people waiting there heard the commotion.”

The High Commission called the police but after Mr Chowdhry was taken away no charges were made.

He said: “The police knew there was no way I had hit anyone, and they [the High Commission] refused to provide CCTV.”

Mr Chowdhry is one of only 9,000 Pakistani Christians in Britain, an overlooked minority dwarfed by the 1.2 million Pakistani Muslims in the country. His wife, Juliet was born in Lahore and her parents still live in the city. The visits from the ISI, as well as the Intelligence Bureau, Pakistan’s main domestic intelligence agency, began soon after the incident in London. “They went around the house taking an inventory,” Mr Chowdhry said: “The second time they brought an imam. Every time I was a predominant factor in the questioning. They said to my inlaws that they were sent by the High Commission.”

Mr Chowdhry had asked the High Commission several times for an explanation but has yet to receive a reply.

The Inter-Services Intelligence is responsible for Pakistan’s national security and is a key player in the battle with the Taliban in Afghanistan. But it has long been regarded by both the United States and India as being infiltrated by Taliban sympathisers and its members have even been linked to atrocities such as the 2008 Mumbai massacre.

Mr Chowdhry believes that his family are being visited because of his work campaigning for Pakistani Christian rights. Earlier this month Mr Chowdhry led several hundred people in marching through London to protest at Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws.

The most recent victim of the law is Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five who is currently facing a death sentence after being convicted of insulting the Prophet

Mohammed on the say-so of her neighbour. In March Pakistan’s leading Catholic politician, Shahbaz Bhatti, was murdered in the capital Islamabad while travelling to work. Mr Bhatti had received numerous death threats after calling for changes to the country’s controversial blasphemy law. The blasphemy law carries a death sentence for anyone who insults Islam, and critics say it has been used to persecute minority faiths. In January Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who had also opposed the law, was murdered by one of his bodyguards.

The Pakistani High Commission was unavailable for comment.

Archbishop Nichols speaks at a conference on the Holy Land Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk

Internet scam targets friends of prominent Sister BY ED WEST

A WELL-KNOWN British Sister has become the victim of an email hacking scam in which her friends were tricked into handing over money.

less nights over it. Some tried to take action. They actually took money out of their bank account to wire it until his daughter said: ‘Hang on, why don’t you try calling Margaret?’

Sister Margaret Shepherd, the secretary to the Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, became the latest victim of advancedfee fraud, where internet scammers fraudulently acquire someone’s personal details in order to obtain money from their friends.

The internet fraudsters accessed the email of Sister Margaret to send a message to her contacts last week claiming she had been mugged at gunpoint in Madrid and that she needed help getting home.

The email, which was full of spelling errors, stated: “I’ve made contact with my bank but the best they could do was to send me a new card in the mail which will take 2-4 working days to arrive here. I need you to lend me some money to sort my self out of this predicament, i will pay back once i make it out of Madrid.

“Western union or moneygram is the fastest option to wire funds to me. Let me know if you need my details(Full names/location) to effect a transfer. You can reach me via email or hotel’s desk phone.”

The nun, who has spent years in Jewish-Christian relations, said that as a result some of her friends did try to wire money to Western Union, but the money-transferring service rejected it.

She said: “Some had sleep

“It’s caused all sorts of problems. It’s still causing problems. It’s not a nice experience at all, and I wouldn’t wish it to happen to anyone. But I suppose the people who did it don’t care as long as they make some money.”

Sister Margaret said that a similar thing had recently happened to another sister she knew.

Advanced-fee fraud earns fraudsters several billion pounds a year and is centred around West Africa. Scammers use Western Union because it is untraceable and often acquire money by hacking into their friends’ email, using phishing emails, which trick people into handing over passwords, or through computer viruses.

Other advance-fee fraud tactics include offering lottery wins, romantic opportunities, properties to rent and highinterest loans. The scam, also known as “the 419” after the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code, began in 1992 following the downturn in the Nigerian economy and the beginnings of the worldwide web. The fraud was pioneered by the Catholic Igbo ethnic group of Nigeria, who following their defeat in the Biafran War were shut out of Nigeria’s Muslim-dominated political system. Since then it has spread around west Africa and more recently eastern Europe.

LITTLE WAY EAST AFRICA CRISIS

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Crossed POs and cheques should be sent and made payable to: THE LITTLE WAY ASSOCIATION, CH/07/24 119 Cedars Rd, Clapham Common, London SW4 0PR (Registered Charity No. 235703) Tel. 020-7622 0466 I enclose £ ...............to be allocated for: £.......... EAST AFRICA CRISIS APPEAL £.......... MASS STIPENDS (please state no. ) £.......... LITTLE WAY ADMIN. EXPENSES

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Help neighbours through recession, says archbishop

BY MADELEINE TEAHAN

THE ARCHBISHOP of Liverpool has appealed to Catholics to “carry one another ’s burdens”, and to support the poorest and weakest in society during this t ime of economic crisis.

Archbishop Patrick Kelly’s comments came after a meeting last week of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation in Rome which he attended.

He told Vatican Radio: “The sprit of the t ime is ‘carry one another ’s burdens’. We have to show we are carrying one another’s burdens both in the Catholic family and in reaching out to others. This is the way in which the Lord gathered people around himself.”

Archbishop Kelly described the Pontifical Council’s vision as “rooted in the model that St Paul gives us; the Church of the Body of Christ”.

He said: “St Paul dares to say the weakest members are indispensable. I think that is one of the most precious lines in the New Testament. In other words, the sign that the Church gives is not a sign that can only cope with those who are terribly strong in their faith and in their convictions but part of the sign is that our family includes people who are hanging on by their fingertips. That’s part of the sign we give.”

Archbishop Kelly said that he suspected his invitation to join the council was due to the challenges that Liverpool now faces,

He also said that “the economic crisis has got to be part of the context of anything we do now as Church”.

He said: “It was an African bishop who said in 2008 in Liverpool when the economic crisis began that what was occurring was the end of the slave t rade. Namely all the wealth that came to Western Europe from either Africa or South America is now over and we’re having to think of ourselves in a very different way.”

Cardinals and bishops from Barcelona, Budapest, Brussels, Cologne, Dublin, Lisbon, Liverpool, Paris, Turin, Warsaw and Vienna were invited to Rome for the Pontifical Council meeting last week.

The aim of the meeting was to share ideas on their respective cities and churches with the council’s president, Archbishop Rino Fisichella.

The gathering was a preliminary meeting prior to a New Evangelisation Synod that is due to be held in 2012.

Talks were designed to cultivate mutual co-operation between the council’s representatives in order to solve the similar problems encountered in different cities.

EAST AFRICA CRISIS

Ten million people are facing a devastating drought in East Africa. Very poor rains have led to crop failure, serious food and water shortages and the deaths of tens of thousands of animals in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan. With no rain expected until September, the situation can only get worse. The UN says that in some regions the drought is the worst in years. We urgently need your support to get life-saving aid to people now.

Please make a donation today. Your gift will help to provide life-saving food for the most vulnerable, as well as water-points, medicine and emergency support for families whose animals are dying.

Please give to the East Africa Crisis Appeal. Your help WILL reach people who need it most.

cafod.org.uk/eastafrica or call

Alternatively, complete and post the coupon to the address below. Here is my gift of £ £ £ £ or my preferred amount is £ for the East Africa Crisis Appeal

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Please send to: Freepost RSHJ-KJBY-YXLT, CAFOD, Romero House, Westminster Bridge Road, LONDON SE JB

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Gift Aid Declaration (only valid with full name and address as filled out above) – please tick as appropriate:

I would like CAFOD to treat all donations I have made from 6th April 2007 and until further notice as Gift Aid donations. My UK Annual Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax is more than the tax CAFOD will reclaim in the appropriate tax year. OR

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