By Jawad Mazhar, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan
PAKPATTAN, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– A Muslim lawyer has apologized for thousands of anti-Christian leaflets distributed in Pakistan at a reconciliation meeting with Christian leaders who said they forgave him because they are followers of “the Prince of Peace,” according to delegates attending the gathering.
The lawyer, Waqar Hussain Minhas, told the Christian leaders that his name was “misused” by another Muslim writer who called Pope Benedict XVI “a bastard”, described churches as “brothels” and said the Bible was changed by Christian and Jewish scholars.
“All the religions brought messages of peace and salvation but Jews and Christians changed their Holy Books…” said the leaflets, which were distributed last month in the town of Arifwala in Pakistan’s Pakpattan District. “Nowadays churches in Western countries including Europe and USA have become houses of prostitution and Christian clergymen teach their congregants to commit adultery, there.”
The author also wrote that several cardinals wanted to become pope, but that only the current pontiff could become the leader of the world’s one billion Catholics because he was “a bastard or an illegitimate offspring beyond any doubt…Therefore he was chosen to lead the Christian world or Christianity.”
Minhas condemned the statements during a reconciliation meeting in an Arifwala Catholic church attended by some 40 Christian leaders, including politicians, clerics and civil society leaders, explained Javed Masih Sahotra, a Christian lawyer, in an interview
The recent gathering came after Christian youth threatened to organize a massive rally against the publications, added Rokas Bhatti, the regional coordinator of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, a grouping of minority parties.
In an affidavit, submitted by two Muslim lawyers accompanying him, Minhas also said that the leaflets must be seen as an “explicit conspiracy” against him.
“We are followers of the Prince of Peace”, a reference to Jesus Christ, and believe in “reconciliation therefore we forgive you,” said the Christian delegation in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife. However they stressed that if “the same would have been said about Islam by a Christian, Muslims would not have forgiven that person. Instead they would have torched the Christian infrastructure and residential areas and reduced them to ashes.”
Several Christians have been detained in Pakistan on what rights groups have described as “false” blasphemy charges. Following the reconciliation meeting, both parties left “happily in complete peace and tranquility,” said Sahotra and Bhatti. (With editing by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).