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Aasia Bibi arrives in Canada – a bitter-sweet day

Aasia Bibi arrives in Canada – a bitter-sweet day.
(Statement by the Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians)

The good news for Aasia (Noreen) Bibi, is that she will, hopefully, live a life free of the always-present possibility of injury, or worse, that she faced in Pakistan. But, it’s sad is that she was forced to leave her home-land because of the prejudice, discrimination and violence that she faced if she had continued to live there.

Upon Ms. Noreen’s acquittal by the Supreme Court of blasphemy charges in October of 2018, there were huge demonstrations by fundamentalists protesting the SC judgment, and calling for her murder. Given that her life was in danger, the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau in early November asking that she and her family be given asylum in Canada. We also circulated a public petition to the same effect at that time. Having said that, we do not take any credit for the asylum given to her – the decision was made at much higher levels – and thank the government for taking this step.

Since our inception in the early 1980’s, the CPPC has stood for secularism, equality of all regardless of gender, religious beliefs, nationality or ethnicity, for peace and against militarism and wars, for genuine democracy and for social justice and socialism.

To reiterate our views on this particular matter we want the government of Pakistan to i) generously compensate Aasia Noreen and her family for the agonies they have suffered and ii) severely punish the women who brought the false charges against her, Qari Mohammad Salim, the local mulla who turned a personal dispute into a matter of blasphemy, and the Punjab High Court judge who convicted her to death on flimsy grounds. Fundamentalist/terrorist organizations must be strictly banned, as must be any propaganda against religious minorities in the mainstream or the social media.

Pakistan should get rid of the ‘Blasphemy Laws’; the approximately 1,400 people who are in jails for blasphemy should be released forthwith. Over sixty people have been extra-judiciously murder on the same accusation. The government should compensate their families and punish their killers.

Pakistan should become a secular country where religion and state are separate. If nothing else, the examples of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan (at least since General Zia-ul Haq), Afghanistan under the Mujahideen/Taliban and Iran since Khomeini make this clear. People should have the freedom of religious belief – as long as it is not socially injurious. There should also be freedom not to believe.

The efforts to weaken secularism and growing prejudice against Muslims and immigrants in the west, including Canada, by right-wing forces must be combatted.

Religion is used by ruling elites to divide people. We must reject divisiveness and strive for unity of all.

CPPC Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding asylum for Aasia Bibi

The Right Honorable Justin Trudeau,
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

As you are no doubt aware, Aasia Noreen, better known as Aasia Bibi, a woman from the minority Christian community in Pakistan, and a mother of five, was imprisoned for almost ten years, eight of them on death row, on false charges of ‘blasphemy’ (roughly translated as sacrilege).

Almost 1,400 people are in jail under the ‘Blasphemy Laws’, imposed on Pakistan by the brutal,
fundamentalist military dictator General Zia ul Haq. Sixty-two have been killed in cold blood for
this ‘crime’ even before their cases could be heard by the courts.

On October 31, the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted Aasia Bibi of all charges and ordered her release from jail. However, her life is in grave danger at the hands of fundamentalist extremists who have threatened to kill her. It is most unfortunate, but the government of Pakistan might not be able to guarantee their security.

Aasia Bibi, and her family, have already suffered grievously. There is the great likelihood that they might suffer an even more violent and tragic fate. That is why the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians requests that your government urgently grant Aasia Bibi and her whole family asylum in Canada.

Thank you.

Omar Latif
Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians

cc: Minister of Immigration: Ahmed.Hussen@

Islamophobia in the Age of Trump
Creating a Counter-Narrative

With the rise of xenophobic and anti-immigrant sentiments, policies, and discourse since Trump’s win in the States, and also within Canada, it is important
as community organizations for us to challenge this bigoted discourse.

Guided by our two co-facilitators, we are hoping to:
a) Name the anti-immigrant policies and discuss briefly their impact on our communities,
b) Discuss the failure of Trump in his attempts to implement these policies (whether it is the decision of the judicial system or the opposition from State governments) AND MAINLY,
c) Provide language to challenge these systems.

Alia Hogben is the Executive Director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women. In 2012, Hogben became the second Canadian Muslim woman to be awarded the Order of Canada for her work in the area of women’s rights.

Syed Hussan is a researcher, writer and campaigner based in Toronto. He organizes as part of and alongside migrant and undocumented communities, including those targeted by the national security state. He is a co-creator, with Aliya Pabani, of the project.

You must get tickets to attend the event.

Film Screening: Among the Believers

Bocumentary, colour, 95 min, English subtitles.

In its verdict of March 9, the Islamabad High Court made it mandatory for all applicants to the army and the civil to declare their ‘true faith’, failure to do which could make one ‘guilty of betraying the state’ and ‘exploiting the Constitution’.

Fundamentalist ideology and violence that has been devastating for Pakistan, especially its religious minorities.

This ideology and these actions, are those of a small minority of people and have nothing to do with the beliefs and practices of the overwhelming majority of the Muslim masses.

‘Among the Believers’, featuring the renowned nuclear physicist and mathematician, and courageous human rights activist Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, focuses on the chilling message of the radical cleric Abdul Aziz of the Lal Masjid of Islamabad who is known for his support of Al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Documentary followed by discussion on the origins and impact of fundamentalism in Pakistan and what we can do to help combat it.

All welcome. Free admission; voluntary donations appreciated.

VAUGHAN: Saturday, March 17, 2 pm,
Civic Centre Library, 2191 Major Mackenzie Drive

AJAX: Saturday, March 31, 1.30 pm
St. Francis Centre, 78 Church Street

TORONTO: Wednesday, April 11, 7 pm
Palmerston Library, 560 Palmerston Ave, (Bathurst & Bloor)

MISSISSAUGA: Sunday, April 15, 2 pm.
Burnhamthorpe Library, 3650 Dixie Road

NORTH YORK: Sunday, April 15, 2 pm
Noor Cultural Centre, 123 Wynford Drive

Hassan Nawaz Gardezi (Jan 8, 1911 – April 19, 2017)

Hassan Nawaz Gardezi
Jan 8, 1933 – April 19, 2017

It is with extreme sorrow that the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians announces the death of Dr. Hassan Nawaz Gardezi, one of the founding members of the CPPC, a lifelong and a tireless activist against imperialism and wars and for equality of all, justice, peace, secularism and socialism.

From the Algoma University website:

Hassan Nawaz Gardezi is a Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Algoma University College. He began teaching at Algoma University College,Sault Ste Marie, Ontario in 1970. He began his academic career as a lecturer and head of the Department of Sociology at Punjab University.

He moved to North America in the late 1960s. He has written on issues relating to the political economy of Pakistan and South Asia and has been a member of the Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars (BCAS) editorial board since 1978.

Gardezi also played a key role in creating the Pakistan Philosophical Congress (PPC), the Pakistan Sociological Association (PSA), and the Pakistan Psychological Association (PPA).

Representative publications include: “The South Asian Bomb: reality and Illusion” (1999), “The Political Economy of International Labour Migration” (1995), “Understanding Pakistan: the colonial factor in societal development” (1991), Pakistan: the unstable state (1983), “Sociology in Pakistan” (1966).

Faiz Day 2016


The Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians celebrates Faiz Day on November 21st to pay homage to the revolutionary Urdu poet, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, The program includes recitals, audio & video clippings and singing of his revolutionary and love poetry. For tickets, please contact Mr. Abbas Syed at 647-524-1891.

21 November, 2015 at 06:30 p.m.
Burnhamthorpe Community Centre,
1500 Gulledin Drive, Mississauga
(Burnhamthorpe Road East & Dixie Road)
Eventbrite - CPPC Faiz Day 2016

The Failure of Anti-Terrorist, Social and Foreign Policies Leads to Terrorist Attacks:


The Failure of Anti-Terrorist, Social and Foreign Policies Leads to Terrorist Attacks:
Vice-Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB-PVDA) David Pestieau on the
terrorist attacks in Brussels Airport and in the Brussels metro and on the latest antiterrorist draft bill in Belgium. (Interview was published in L’Humanité Dimanche, 31 March 2016)

HD. What state is Belgium in, more than one week after the terrorist attacks?
We are still living in the continuity of the attacks in Paris first, and now in Brussels. The difference lies in the targeted premises – the airport and the metro – with passengers, workers, persons on their way to work, mothers, fathers. The first reaction was solidarity and unity against terror, hatred and division. Commemorations, both spontaneous and organized, were held at the Brussels Stock Exchange, on the Brussels Airport tarmac, in Charleroi, in Antwerp and in cities across the country.

Everyone wanted to defend our peaceful co-existence against jihadists and racists. All victims, all standing as one, in spite of the attempts by the extreme right to disrupt this growing movement of unity. On Sunday 27 March, four hundred hooligans from the association ‘Casual United Belgium’ attempted to break the solidarity in the cosmopolitan town that is Brussels, where two-thirds of the population is of foreign origin. This incident raises many questions. How come that, right in the wake of the attacks, with all the security measures taken by the authorities, these 400 hooligans managed to go from Vilvoorde (a city just outside Brussels) to the Place de la Bourse (in the centre of Brussels) without there being any reaction. There has been a laissez-faire attitude vis-à-vis these “black-shirts” who were allowed to trample flowers, chant slogans against immigrants and perform the Nazi salute.
The society is experiencing an enormous sense of bewilderment. Both in Belgium and in the rest of Europe, the extreme-right is trying to capture the anger in order to sow terror and division.

HD. The investigation of the attacks reveals gross negligence on the part of the Belgian authorities. Is this worrisome, with new anti-terrorist bills on the horizon?
The hour of truth has come. We demand answers to the many questions raised as to the
management of the terrorist threat and the responsibility of the judiciary and the police. At different levels, we can see that the government has been unable to protect the population. Hence it is clear that its policies have to be challenged. And the PTB-PVDA members of parliament shall oppose any new anti-terrorist bill proposed by the Prime Minister who, nevertheless, wants to bring new legislation forward as early as March 29. Attention must be given to the existing mechanisms and the many shortcomings. It appears today that these attacks could have been prevented. The ministers have to provide answers as to what happened to the very clear warnings received on Ibrahim El Bakraoui and the Abdeslam brothers. Serious errors have been committed. Hence we formulated 37 precise questions to the Michel Government, for we cannot afford such shortcomings any more in the fight against terrorism.

HD. What are the measures called for by the government?
Prime Minister Charles Michel and his ministers are committed to mirroring the path chosen by the United States and most of the European countries like France: to gather and record as many data as possible on as many citizens as possible, while, at the same time, the Minister of Justice has confirmed at the committee of inquiry that his services are being over-stretched because of an overflow of information. Likewise, the battery of measures taken – the army on the streets, the revocation of citizenship, mass surveillance – is inefficient and may increase the burden of operational work at the expense of the tracking-down of the really dangerous subjects. Another point to emerge from these attacks is the lack of structural coordination between the different services: the federal police, the intelligence services and the local police.

HD. What are the avenues proposed by the PTB-PVDA?
At the criminal level, it is necessary to target the recruiters of future Syria fighters as well as other jihadists. We have to be in a position to thwart terrorist plots through targeted police work. We also have to develop prevention, and deradicalisation programmes… We have to invest in employment and in the fight against discrimination, Belgium being one of the European countries with the highest rate of discrimination in job recruitment. Europe should also stop its pro-war policy with NATO and cut off the financial, logistical and arms support to IS via its allies, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.