By Jawad Mazhar, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
SARGODHA, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– A Christian teacher says he has been dismissed and two students suspended from an academy in Pakistan’s Punjab province over allegations they “humiliated Islam” and “blessed the Jewish descendants” of Abraham, the Biblical arch-father of the people of Israel.
Javed Raza, who is also an evangelist, told BosNewsLife that he was sacked from the Bright Future Academy in the city of Sargodha this month because the institute’s Muslim principle and “radical Muslim students” objected to his interpretation of the Bible. Officials of the academy were not available for comment Friday, March 13.
Raza said tensions began March 2, following a lecture, when he answered questions about Abraham and his sons Ishmael and Isaac. “I explained that Isaac was the son promised by God” although Abraham’s wife was already very old, Raza recalled, apparently raising eyebrows among students.
The teacher said some Muslim students were also upset that he spoke of God’s other promises to Abraham and his Israeli descendants, as mentioned in several Bible verses.
They include Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” and Genesis 22:17-18: “Abraham’s descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies and through his offspring all nations on earth will be blessed.”
Some of “the radical Muslim students made it an issue and started chanting slogans against me and against two Christian students, Abid Bhatti and Zahid Kamal, who agreed with me,” Raza explained.
He said the angry students walked out of the class room, shouting “anti-Christianity slogans” and soon “crammed into the office of Principal Muhammad Zulfiqar to demand stringent action against me and the Christian students.”
Raza claimed Zulfiqar fired him from the academy “without a thorough investigation” and suspended the students. “None of us meant to humiliate Islam, I was just trying to share information to all my young students,” he said.
Javed Raza, now an unemployed Christian man after two years of working at the academy, stressed that “superficial thinking and narrow mindedness of my Muslim students and the principal has deprived me of my teaching job.”
He said he is also concerned about the plight of the two suspended students. Raza accused the academy’s leadership of inflicting “an irrecoverable lose to the future of both Christian students by ruining their educational career.”
Raza made clear he would continue to preach the Gospel as an evangelist for the Pakistan Campus Crusade for Christ group and show the film ‘Jesus’, on the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, in Sargodha and surrounding areas.
The teacher and students are among the latest Christians reportedly forced to leave educational institutions and student hostels in Pakistan, BosNewsLife established, following similar incidents in Punjab province and other regions in recent weeks.
Pakistan’s government is under pressure from advocacy groups to tackle Islamic extremism and improve protection for minority Christians and other religious groups.