Nieuws

Al-Falah Nieuwsbrief                         
17e Nieuwsbrief van de Vrienden van Al-Falah, december 2015


Beste vrienden van Al-Falah,
Na de aanslagen in Parijs kunnen wij ons misschien een beetje beter voorstellen, hoe stressvol het leven van de christenen in Pakistan moet zijn. In Lahore ontmoette onze voorzitter Han Schellart iemand die de aanslag op een kerk aldaar had overleefd en daarbij een oog had verloren. Ook in Quetta worden met de regelmaat van de klok aanslagen gepleegd. Toch probeert men zo goed en zo kwaad als het gaat verder te gaan.


Het werk van Friends of Al-Falah
Otto Postma’s werk voor de kansarme jongeren in Quetta voortzetten is geen eenvoudige zaak. Zijn inspiratie is nu nog even levendig als 15 jaar geleden, vóór zijn overlijden. Dat was duidelijk bij alle mensen  die Han ontmoette bij zijn laatste bezoek aan Quetta in oktober. Maar de christelijke minderheid maakt onderling veel ruzie, wat het werken voor de jongeren er niet makkelijker op maakt. Friends of Al-Falah heeft tot nu toe twee sporen gevolgd, steun aan het Al-Falah Hostel onder leiding van de Salesianen van Don Bosco en steun aan een groep oud-leerlingen van Otto, die de NGO Al-Falah without Walls (AwW)  hebben opgericht. De Salesianen zijn een grote school begonnen met veel kinderen van Afghaanse vluchtelingen. Het Al-Falah Hostel is hier al sinds enkele jaren onderdeel van. Voor de Salesianen is het een groot probleem om Pakistanen te vinden en op te leiden die het werk en de plaats van de buitenlandse paters kunnen overnemen. De oud-leerlingen van Al-Falah missen de figuur van Otto Postma die de christenen altijd aanspoorde met zijn motto ‘Stay United / Wees Eensgezind’ en die dit ook in praktijk bracht. Een goede vervanger voor hem is nooit gevonden.


Al-Falah without Walls
De Pakistaanse samenleving is in hoge mate corrupt en de christelijke gemeenschap in Quetta is onderling ernstig verdeeld. In deze omstandigheden heeft AwW zich laten verleiden tot het willen spelen van een bemiddelende rol bij een onterechte  toekenning van studiebeurzen door de vorige  minister voor christelijke minderheden. Door deze ernstige onvoorzichtigheid is AwW in opspraak geraakt en de overheid heeft op hardhandige wijze AwW gedwongen dit geld terug te betalen. Voor het bestuur van Friends of Al-Falah was dit de aanleiding om na intensief beraad te beslissen de band met AwW te verbreken. Het goedlopende  studiebeurzenprogramma, betaald door donoren uit Nederland, is inmiddels overgedragen aan de Salesianen van Don Bosco.

De Studiebeurzen
Het beurzenproject telt dertig studenten, meisjes en jongens, die in de afgelopen twee jaar gesponsord zijn voor verschillende universitaire en beroepsopleidingen. Twintig van hen hebben die studie al afgerond. De overigen zullen hun studie afmaken met een derde jaar in 2016. Financiële steun, maar ook aanmoediging zijn ongelooflijk belangrijk in Pakistan en in Baluchistan in het bijzonder. Vorig jaar vertelde een meisje dat ze liever eerst haar studie had willen afmaken alvorens te trouwen. Maar haar familie had haar gedwongen te trouwen en uiteindelijk had ze toegegeven. Helaas, want nu  in oktober werd verteld dat  ze het huis van haar schoonfamilie ontvlucht is omdat haar man bevriend geraakt is met een andere vrouw en dat ze haar toevlucht genomen heeft bij haar ouders. De extended family is de voornaamste maatschappelijke realiteit en alles bepalend in het leven. De grootste slachtoffers zijn de meisjes. Zij worden gedwongen op jonge leeftijd in te trekken bij hun schoonfamilie en daar alle huishoudelijke taken uit te voeren. En wat de jongens betreft: na het voltooien van  hun middelbare school dromen ze maar van één ding, zo snel mogelijk trouwen. Dat vinden ze kennelijk belangrijker dan een goede opleiding. Friends of Al-Falah wil deze jongens en meisjes met raad en daad blijven steunen zodat ze zich een plaats kunnen verwerven in de maatschappij. De studenten die dankzij uw steun een studie hebben kunnen afmaken of zullen afmaken zijn een rolmodel voor de andere jongeren van de christelijke minderheid.

Het geld
Het bestuur van Friends of Al-Falah is voortdurend op zoek naar mogelijkheden om de opbrengst uit giften op peil te houden. In dit verband willen we u wijzen op de mogelijkheid om uw gift te verhogen zonder extra kosten door gebruik te maken van de bijzondere belastingregeling voor Stichtingen met ANBI status zoals de onze.
Meer hierover leest u in de Financiële Verantwoording.

Het bestuur van Friends of Al-Falah wenst iedereen prettige feestdagen  en het beste voor 2016 toe.


Financiële verantwoording 2015
Tot en met eind november  2015 heeft de stichting  Friends of Al-Falah  een totaalbedrag van Euro 9.245 aan giften ontvangen. Van stichtingen en organisaties ontvingen we     totaal Euro 3.400. Stichting Fonds voor Verpleegkundigen schonk Euro 900 vooor studiebeurzen en Impulsis gaf Euro 2.500 voor Al-Falah without Walls.   

De vrienden van Al-Falah hebben met hun periodieke en eenmalige giften een bedrag van Euro 5.845
bijeengebracht.


Met name de opbrengst van giften van stichtingen, instellingen en organisaties blijft sterk achter bij die van vorige jaren. Als gevolg van de economische crisis heeft de overheid  besloten de subsidies aan de grote liefdadigheidsorganisaties sterk in te krimpen of zelfs stop te zetten en dat heeft zijn uitwerking niet gemist. Het betekent wel dat onze stichting de financiële reserve heeft moeten aanspreken.

Het bestuur wil alle gevers hartelijk danken voor hun giften waarmee we diverse projecten in Quetta konden steunen. Tot en met eind november  2015 hebben we een totaalbedrag van Euro 23.898 voor de volgende projecten naar Pakistan overgemaakt. Voor ondersteuning van het jongerenhuis werd Euro 5.000 overgemaakt en voor het project Al-Falah without Walls/studiebeurzen Euro 18.898.

Om het voortbestaan van het Al-Falah jongerentehuis voor de achtergestelde jeugd van Quetta  onder de verantwoordelijkheid van het Don Bosco Learning Center zeker te stellen, vragen wij u wederom de financiële ondersteuning  ruimhartig voort te zetten; de jongeren van het tehuis zijn u daarvoor buitengewoon dankbaar.

De stichting  Friends of Al-Falah is door de Belastingdienst aangemerkt als een Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling (ANBI), zodat giften aan de stichting onder de giftenaftrek voor de inkomstenbelasting vallen.
In dit verband willen we u wijzen op de mogelijkheid om uw bijdrage voor de ondersteuning van het jongerentehuis te verhogen - zonder dat het u meer geld kost - door uw giften voor een periode van minimaal 5 jaar toe te zeggen.
Schenkt u bijvoorbeeld Euro 200,- per  jaar en valt u onder het inkomstenbelastingtarief van 42%, dan bespaart u Euro 84,- aan inkomstenbelasting. De drempel voor de giftenaftrek komt op deze gift namelijk niet in mindering.
Deze manier van schenken moet wel schriftelijk worden vastgelegd, maar u hoeft niet meer naar de notaris. De noodzakelijke formulieren voor deze regeling kunt u bij de penningmeester aanvragen.

We willen u  ook nog attenderen op de mogelijkheid de stichting te ondersteunen met een legaat.
Dit moet wel via een notaris geregeld worden. Vanwege de ANBI-status hoeft de stichting geen erfbelasting te betalen en komt uw legaat dus helemaal ten goede van het jongerentehuis.  

Voor verdere informatie over de financiën  van de stichting kunt u contact opnemen met de penningmeester, Hans Holthaus  (tel. 0314-642177).

Han Schellart - Hans Holthaus - Paulien de Wilde - Frank van Steenbergen - Martin Zwanenburg - Geert Edelenbosch

Colofon
Stichting Friends of Al-Falah info@friendsofalfalah.nl         rekeningnummer NL 22 INGB 0006 145641                     correspondentie:  Arthur van Schendelstraat 105, 3511 MB Utrecht

http://www.friendsofalfalah.nl


Op 24 april jl werd in Karachi een bekende mensenrechtenactiviste, Sabeen Mehmud, doodgeschoten. Zij kwam juist van een bijeenkomst vandaan waar gesproken was over de mensenrechtensituatie in Baluchistan, waar al tijden fel gedemonstreerd wordt voor meer autonomie en een groter aandeel in de natuurlijke rijkdom van de provincie. De moordenaars zijn onbekend. Deze keer was het geweld  niet speciaal tegen de Christenen gericht zoals kort geleden in Lahore, maar tegen een persoon die zich inzette voor  alle bewoners van Baluchistan. Voor Friends of Al-Falah reden genoeg om zich te blijven inzetten voor jongeren, die met een goede opleiding kunnen meewerken aan een algemene verbetering van de situatie in Baluchistan.


Dit artikel uit de New York Times van februari 2015 geeft een goed beeld van de situatie waarin de Pakistaanse Christenen zich bevinden

Written by Ali Sethi, Lahore-Pakistan

Last Monday, this city was briefly overrun with bands of sloganeering, stick-wielding youths. The demonstrators threw stones at police officers, burned car tires and smashed windows. One gang even plundered a 7Up truck, guzzling its goods before transfixed TV cameras. (I watched the footage — slow-motions of sparkly liquid, with strains of horror movie music playing in the background — that night on the Internet.) There was a euphoric edge to the riots, apparent even when they took a grotesquely violent turn with the lynching of two men. Who were these vandals? And what, if anything, did their actions demonstrate? If you went by the original news bulletins, they were Christians reacting to a suicide bombing the day before of two churches in Youhanabad, a low-income area of Lahore that is home to some 100,000 Christians. A faction of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed 15 people and injured dozens. The rioters' anger was directed at Pakistan's state and society, which had repeatedly failed to protect them from Islamist extremists. According to one estimate, in the last two years there have been 36 targeted attacks on Pakistani Christians, 265 Christian deaths from suicide bombings and 21 "persecutions" of Christians under Pakistan's blasphemy law. To their credit, several TV anchors ran heart-rending montages of recent incidents in which Muslim mobs or terrorists had shot, bombed or burned Pakistani Christians. But by last Tuesday the conversation had changed, after it was established that the two men lynched by the Christian mob were blameless Muslims who happened to be near the churches when the explosions took place. (Police officers had appréhended the men on suspicion of abetting the bombers, but quickly gave them up to the rioters.) The news of their innocence gave the debates a kind of retributive equilibrium, allowing Muslim politicians to spar with Christian leaders about the other community's excesses before rolling out their convenient conclusions: All of Pakistan was under threat from Islamist terrorists, even if religious minorities were especially vulnerable; the attack on the Christians was no different from attacks on Shiites and Ahmadis, two sects that have also been targeted by hard-line Sunni groups. The message — that the bombing of two churches was no big deal in this war-torn country — was not lost on anyone. But Pakistani Christians have a strong claim to being the country's most anciently marginalized group, their predicament made all the more intractable by the silence that surrounds it.This silence is not just about religion; it is also about caste. Most of Pakistan's 2.8 million Christians are descended from low-caste tribes converted by Anglican and Catholic missionaries during the period of British rule. Dwelling mainly in Punjab Province, these tribes were associated with menial occupations such as sweeping and carcass collection, and had for centuries borne the corresponding stigmas of ritual pollution and "untouchability." By converting to Christianity — so the missionaries claimed — these long-oppressed peoples were embracing a life of salvation and dignity. (It is true that attachment to the church could enable access to education and the resources of the colonial state, and thereby bring about qualitative changes in the Jives of farmer "untouchables," many of whom took on Anglo-Saxon names to consolidate their new identities.) But the creation of Pakistan in 1947 —and its subsequent slide into the exclusionary politics of religion — has proved disastrous for the Christians' security. Unlike in India, where the pressures of representative government and an ostensibly secular polity have offered some protection to disenfranchised castes, Pakistan's undemocratic state has never accepted caste as a legitimate political category, preferring to use religion as an all-encompassing tool for mobilization. This has helped its dictators and autocrats amass power — prolonging their tenures, stilling dissent and building nuclear bombs. But it has undermined the country's most vulnerable community twofold: Pakistani Christians have both lost their claim to caste-based affirmative action and acquired the hazardous, Taliban-baiting title of a "religious minority." What we have, then, is the peculiar despair of a people who are unable to articulate their real grievance, a people who have no political parties or voting blocs of their own, who have only churches and pastors and the eternal motifs of suffering and deliverance to see them through this dark period. To live in present-day Pakistan is to know all this in one's bones. It is to recognize a welter of prejudices related to the word "Christian," with its caste associations of waste and blood and a rarely acknowledged but ingrained sense of primordial difference. Indeed, it is to know a long-buried secret about this "Islamic" country, a secret about how religion is used to paper over caste, class and political tensions that threaten, with ever-growing frequency, to rupture the fabric of its society. Last week's riots, which were instigated by a religious attack, brought a long-oppressed community's fury to the fore. In that sense they are a sign of things to come. Anyone walking the streets of Pakistan would do well to remember that. When Pakistani Christians fight back By Ali Sethi LAHORE, PAKISTAN Last Monday, this city was briefly overrun with bands of sloganeering, stick-wielding youths. The demonstrators threw stones at police officers, burned car tires and smashed windows. One gang even plundered a 7Up truck, guzzling its goods before transfixed TV cameras. (I watched the footage — slow-motions of sparkly liquid, with strains of horror movie music playing in the background — that night on the Internet.) There was a euphoric edge to the riots, apparent even when they took a grotesquely violent turn with the lynching of two men. Who were these vandals? And what, if anything, did their actions demonstrate? If you went by the original news bulletins, they were Christians reacting to a suicide bombing the day before of two churches in Youhanabad, a low-income area of Lahore that is home to some 100,000 Christians. A faction of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed 15 people and injured dozens. The rioters' anger was directed at Pakistan's state and society, which had repeatedly failed to protect them from Islamist extremists. According to one estimate, in the last two years there have been 36 targeted attacks on Pakistani Christians, 265 Christian deaths from suicide bombings and 21 "persecutions" of Christians under Pakistan's blasphemy law. To their credit, several TV anchors ran heart-rending montages of recent incidents in which Muslim mobs or terrorists had shot, bombed or burned Pakistani Christians. But by last Tuesday the conversation had changed, after it was established that the two men lynched by the Christian mob were blameless Muslims who happened to be near the churches when the explosions took place. (Police officers had appréhended the men on suspicion of abetting the bombers, but quickly gave them up to the rioters.) The news of their innocence gave the debates a kind of retributive equilibrium, allowing Muslim politicians to spar with Christian leaders about the other community's excesses before rolling out their convenient conclusions: All of Pakistan was under threat from Islamist terrorists, even if religious minorities were especially vulnerable; the attack on the Christians was no different from attacks on Shiites and Ahmadis, two sects that have also been targeted by hard-line Sunni groups. The message — that the bombing of two churches was no big deal in this war-torn country — was not lost on anyone. But Pakistani Christians have a strong claim to being the country's most anciently marginalized group, their predicament made all the more intractable by the silence that surrounds it.This silence is not just about religion; it is also about caste. Most of Pakistan's 2.8 million Christians are descended from low-caste tribes converted by Anglican and Catholic missionaries during the period of British rule. Dwelling mainly in Punjab Province, these tribes were associated with menial occupations such as sweeping and carcass collection, and had for centuries borne the corresponding stigmas of ritual pollution and "untouchability." By converting to Christianity — so the missionaries claimed — these long-oppressed peoples were embracing a life of salvation and dignity. (It is true that attachment to the church could enable access to education and the resources of the colonial state, and thereby bring about qualitative changes in the Jives of farmer "untouchables," many of whom took on Anglo-Saxon names to consolidate their new identities.) But the creation of Pakistan in 1947 —and its subsequent slide into the exclusionary politics of religion — has proved disastrous for the Christians' security. Unlike in India, where the pressures of representative government and an ostensibly secular polity have offered some protection to disenfranchised castes, Pakistan's undemocratic state has never accepted caste as a legitimate political category, preferring to use religion as an all-encompassing tool for mobilization. This has helped its dictators and autocrats amass power — prolonging their tenures, stilling dissent and building nuclear bombs. But it has undermined the country's most vulnerable community twofold: Pakistani Christians have both lost their claim to caste-based affirmative action and acquired the hazardous, Taliban-baiting title of a "religious minority." What we have, then, is the peculiar despair of a people who are unable to articulate their real grievance, a people who have no political parties or voting blocs of their own, who have only churches and pastors and the eternal motifs of suffering and deliverance to see them through this dark period. To live in present-day Pakistan is to know all this in one's bones. It is to recognize a welter of prejudices related to the word "Christian," with its caste associations of waste and blood and a rarely acknowledged but ingrained sense of primordial difference. Indeed, it is to know a long-buried secret about this "Islamic" country, a secret about how religion is used to paper over caste, class and political tensions that threaten, with ever-growing frequency, to rupture the fabric of its society. Last week's riots, which were instigated by a religious attack, brought a long-oppressed community's fury to the fore. In that sense they are a sign of things to come. Anyone walking the streets of Pakistan would do well to remember that. When Pakistani Christians fight back By Ali Sethi LAHORE, PAKISTAN Last Monday, this city was briefly overrun with bands of sloganeering, stick-wielding youths. The demonstrators threw stones at police officers, burned car tires and smashed windows. One gang even plundered a 7Up truck, guzzling its goods before transfixed TV cameras. (I watched the footage — slow-motions of sparkly liquid, with strains of horror movie music playing in the background — that night on the Internet.) There was a euphoric edge to the riots, apparent even when they took a grotesquely violent turn with the lynching of two men. Who were these vandals? And what, if anything, did their actions demonstrate? If you went by the original news bulletins, they were Christians reacting to a suicide bombing the day before of two churches in Youhanabad, a low-income area of Lahore that is home to some 100,000 Christians. A faction of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed 15 people and injured dozens. The rioters' anger was directed at Pakistan's state and society, which had repeatedly failed to protect them from Islamist extremists. According to one estimate, in the last two years there have been 36 targeted attacks on Pakistani Christians, 265 Christian deaths from suicide bombings and 21 "persecutions" of Christians under Pakistan's blasphemy law. To their credit, several TV anchors ran heart-rending montages of recent incidents in which Muslim mobs or terrorists had shot, bombed or burned Pakistani Christians. But by last Tuesday the conversation had changed, after it was established that the two men lynched by the Christian mob were blameless Muslims who happened to be near the churches when the explosions took place. (Police officers had appréhended the men on suspicion of abetting the bombers, but quickly gave them up to the rioters.) The news of their innocence gave the debates a kind of retributive equilibrium, allowing Muslim politicians to spar with Christian leaders about the other community's excesses before rolling out their convenient conclusions: All of Pakistan was under threat from Islamist terrorists, even if religious minorities were especially vulnerable; the attack on the Christians was no different from attacks on Shiites and Ahmadis, two sects that have also been targeted by hard-line Sunni groups. The message — that the bombing of two churches was no big deal in this war-torn country — was not lost on anyone. But Pakistani Christians have a strong claim to being the country's most anciently marginalized group, their predicament made all the more intractable by the silence that surrounds it.This silence is not just about religion; it is also about caste. Most of Pakistan's 2.8 million Christians are descended from low-caste tribes converted by Anglican and Catholic missionaries during the period of British rule. Dwelling mainly in Punjab Province, these tribes were associated with menial occupations such as sweeping and carcass collection, and had for centuries borne the corresponding stigmas of ritual pollution and "untouchability." By converting to Christianity — so the missionaries claimed — these long-oppressed peoples were embracing a life of salvation and dignity. (It is true that attachment to the church could enable access to education and the resources of the colonial state, and thereby bring about qualitative changes in the Jives of farmer "untouchables," many of whom took on Anglo-Saxon names to consolidate their new identities.) But the creation of Pakistan in 1947 —and its subsequent slide into the exclusionary politics of religion — has proved disastrous for the Christians' security. Unlike in India, where the pressures of representative government and an ostensibly secular polity have offered some protection to disenfranchised castes, Pakistan's undemocratic state has never accepted caste as a legitimate political category, preferring to use religion as an all-encompassing tool for mobilization. This has helped its dictators and autocrats amass power — prolonging their tenures, stilling dissent and building nuclear bombs. But it has undermined the country's most vulnerable community twofold: Pakistani Christians have both lost their claim to caste-based affirmative action and acquired the hazardous, Taliban-baiting title of a "religious minority." What we have, then, is the peculiar despair of a people who are unable to articulate their real grievance, a people who have no political parties or voting blocs of their own, who have only churches and pastors and the eternal motifs of suffering and deliverance to see them through this dark period. To live in present-day Pakistan is to know all this in one's bones. It is to recognize a welter of prejudices related to the word "Christian," with its caste associations of waste and blood and a rarely acknowledged but ingrained sense of primordial difference. Indeed, it is to know a long-buried secret about this "Islamic" country, a secret about how religion is used to paper over caste, class and political tensions that threaten, with ever-growing frequency, to rupture the fabric of its society. Last week's riots, which were instigated by a religious attack, brought a long-oppressed community's fury to the fore. In that sense they are a sign of things to come. Anyone walking the streets of Pakistan would do well to remember that.


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