By Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
BANKGOK, THAILAND (ANS – May 28, 2017) — Pakistani Christians in the United Kingdom, shocked by the killing of 22 innocent people and many more injured in Manchester on May 23, requested the British Pakistani Christian Association deliver their condolences for families and survivors of the type of attacks Pak-Christians know only too well.
In a report from the BPCA, Maqsood Iqbal said: “Many of the Pakistani ‘asylum seeker’ community in Thailand have seen the aftermath of a bomb attack first hand. The targeting of innocent people in this fashion is an evil act beyond compare.
“I cried when I learned about the young children who were killed and have been praying for victims and their families.”
With a little help from Lord Alton, (former Liberal Party and later Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament known for his human rights work), Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association (www.britishpakistanichristians.org) arranged to deliver a large basket of flowers to Second Secretary Daniel Fieller.
Chowdhry was joined by Annie Ishaq, an asylum seeker and lead officer for the BPCA in Thailand, together with an Australian couple, Neville and Diedre I’Anson from charity Mercy International, who also made up the delegation. Together they shared condolences with the UK Embassy.
Later the same day, Second Secretary Fieller sent a heartwarming response by email. He wrote: “Thank you so much for delivering the flowers today, it was an absolute pleasure meeting you and heartening to know that your sympathies are with those affected by the explosions in Manchester. Thank you for your time and thoughts, they mean a lot to all of us.
“We have placed the flowers in the main reception of the Ambassador’s Residence so that they can be seen by the wide range of guests coming in over the next few days.
“The recent attacks at Westminster and now Manchester remind us all how vulnerable we are. As a Christian at times like this I remember that We serve a God that thinks about our lives, our world, and his creation on a completely different level than even the smartest human.”
Chowdhry said: “I have been praying for the victims and their families since I heard the news and praise the work of our brave and dedicated security forces.”
After the Westminster attack, Chowdhry led a multi-faith peace concert inviting key figures from all faiths to help restore peace and community harmony in London.
“We had an Imam, a Nazi Holocaust Survivor, and a Hindu campaigner with many other key faith and secular figures — all uniting against extremism. But few lessons seem to have been learned.”
Chowdhry continued: “I am used to attacks such as these occurring in Islamic nations such as Pakistan, where sectarian schism and religious intolerance has led to frequent bomb attacks, in particular the beleaguered Christian community who have suffered four terrorist attacks in four years.
“However, here in the UK, it is always a shock as we simply don’t expect it — our professional security forces thwart most attempted attacks and have up to now been extremely successful with intelligence gathering. A total of five terrorist attacks were prevented since the Westminster attack.”
Chowdhry said that much is being said about the British Government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy and the anti-terrorism hotline, “especially their failure to respond to reports of radicalization from witnesses who implicated (Salman) Abedi before his suicide attack.”
He added: “Sadly, my experiences with SO15 in recent days corroborate the malaise and have left me deflated. When trying to report on a property from which many locals feared extremism was emanating only last week, I was met with apathy and disbelief.”
(The Counter Terrorism Command (CTC) or SO15 is a Specialist Operations branch within London’s Metropolitan Police Service. The Counter Terrorism Command was established as a result of the merging of the Anti-Terrorist Branch (SO13), and the Special Branch (SO12) in October 2006, bringing together intelligence, operations and investigative functions to form a single command. CTC has over 1,500 Police Officers and staff, and a number of investigators based overseas).
“Instead of taking my concerns and adding it to a list of potential leads, I found myself attempting to overly justify my concerns and those of others who bravely shared knowledge with me — many of whom were Muslim — I felt like I was the criminal. This has lessened my desire to share intelligence in future and I am sure many others will hold similar apprehension.”
Chowdhry said that fear of being interrogated for being a whistle-blower “will be to the detriment of the country and will limit future counter-terrorism investigations.
“Police forces that are uber-politically correct and fear being labelled Islamophobic will undermine an essential process that would otherwise sift out the real criminals,” he said.
“Extra armed Police and the deployment of soldiers on our streets will provide a visible deterrent. However, it is imperative that we get to grips with a dire need for more effective intelligence gathering. Moreover, the looming threat of increasing radicalization shows no sign of abatement. On the contrary, reports of a potential 23,000 jihadists in Britain is a deplorable and frightening statistic.
“It is appalling that (Salman) Abedi used a student loan and benefits to purchase his bomb components. Despite all the UK gave him, he chose violence against innocent people.
“I will continue to pray for peace in the UK — we cannot let the extremists ruin the wonderful community cohesion amongst all British subjects.”
Photo captions: 1) Representatives of the BPCA deliver flowers to British Embassy in Thailand. (BPCA photo). 2) Wilson Chowdhry. (BPCA) 3) Michael Ireland
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael
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