‘I’m scared’: parents of children with disability struggle to get the basics during coronavirus



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Helen Dickinson, UNSW and Sophie Yates, UNSW

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on all Australians, but there are very good reasons why the impact might be more keenly felt by people with disability and their carers.

Our new research on behalf of Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) provides insight into these issues, capturing the impacts at the height of the pandemic.

These findings throw the daily inequities people with disability face into sharp relief. Without urgent action, future emergencies will have similar impacts.

How have families found life in the pandemic?

As coronavirus reached crisis point in Australia, CYDA was concerned that we lacked a coherent national response to assist younger Australians with disabilities. So it launched a survey about families’ pandemic experiences.




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This was designed to explore the specific impact of COVID-19, but also to help plan for future emergencies, including other pandemics, bushfires and floods.

The survey was launched in mid-March and stayed open for almost six weeks. Nearly 700 responses were received, mostly from family members of children and young people with disability.

Scared and uncertain

Our report, More than Isolated, shows families were confused about how to handle the crisis.

More than 80% of respondents said they lacked information about coronavirus and how it related to children with disability. This exacerbated their distress and uncertainty.

Households reported feeling scared and uncertain about the best ways to act to protect themselves and loved ones, and this was having an impact on the mental health of all family members.

Respondents also reported a great deal of uncertainty about schooling and school closures. As one parent said

Should we be waiting for school to close or should we keep him at home? Should we keep our other kids home from school to protect him? How serious is this?

Missing out on supplies, medication

More than 60% of respondents were unable to buy essential supplies (such as groceries, special dietary products and hygiene products). Almost 20% said they were unable to buy essential medication.

Panic buying was particularly hard on families of children with disability.
James Gourley/AAP

While this was an issue for many Australians, often these products were especially necessary for the children and young people with disability.




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As one parent reported:

Families with ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder] children don’t meet criteria for special shopping times and so we have run out of essential items. In my spare time I’m running around all day looking for toilet paper and food that my child will eat. I’m exhausted.

The shortages also meant some children and young people went without food or continence supplies. Other families found themselves spending up to three times the usual budget on essential items, sometimes at the expense of paying their rent.

Less support, declining mental health

One in three respondents had to deal with the cancellation of support workers.

This was either because the family had to cancel because of concerns about people coming into the home, or the services themselves cancelled. This meant family members had increased support requirements, with some reporting they had to give up their own paid work to care for their kids.

Half of survey respondents reported a decline in mental health, either for themselves or for the child or young person with disability. This increased over the period of the survey.

As another parent reported:

I’m scared as a parent, I’m scared of failing my child, and I’m scared about
the mental health impacts on me as a parent with absolutely no support.

Often the impacts were interconnected. For example, service cancellation led to parents’ reduced ability to work, which put stress on obtaining essential supplies.

Some people were unable to access pre-existing support networks, and unsure of what would happen in the days and weeks ahead. Many respondents expressed heartbreaking distress and worry.

I am struggling significantly to meet my children’s needs … I am completely isolated from any therapies, support workers and family support.

Families are struggling: what needs to change

Many of those who care for children and young people with disability are constantly beset by difficult decisions – balancing work, play, care and education to provide the best possible lives for their kids.

Many people can only manage these things when the world is operating as it normally does. But this pandemic (which was preceded by a summer of horrific bushfires) has thrown these carefully balanced routines off to such a degree that families are struggling to cope.

Families’ carefully balanced routines have been thrown off by recent disasters.
Sean Davey/AAP

There are lessons that we can learn from this pandemic that can inform future emergency responses.

Our survey findings point to the importance of information that is tailored to children and young people with disability.

The fragmentation of national and state/territory responsibilities (especially around education) made for confusing messaging for these families, and this continues.

It is crucial the voices of children and young people with disability and their families are heard and responded to in emergency planning.




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But improving messaging and ensuring a more coherent response will not solve many of the issues.

It is well established that people with disability face significant inequities in many facets of their lives (from health to work, education and social interaction). The only way we will prevent an impact like this again is to address the various inequities faced on a daily basis by children and young people with disability and their caregivers.

This is not a new observation, but it is also at the heart of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that Australia is a signatory to.

There is a richness in diversity and human experience and this needs to be valued and planned for.

During this period of the COVID-19 pandemic there was not enough recognition that some groups might require more support and intervention so that they can be viewed as equally valued members of society.

CYDA is a not-for-profit community-based organisation and receives its core funding from the Department of Social ServicesThe Conversation

Helen Dickinson, Professor, Public Service Research, UNSW and Sophie Yates, Postdoctoral Fellow, UNSW

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

People with a disability are more likely to die from coronavirus – but we can reduce this risk



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Helen Dickinson, UNSW and Anne Kavanagh, University of Melbourne

The COVID-19 pandemic is terrifying for many of us, but people with a disability have more reason to worry than most.

People with a disability often have underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to serious illness or death if they contract COVID-19. They may also be more at risk of contracting the virus if they have disability workers entering their home.

The federal government has made several policy announcements to protect older Australians in aged care facilities, hospitals and GP clinics, but we’re yet to see the same consideration for people with disabilities.




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People with disability are already disadvantaged

One in five people in Australia has a disability. Of these, more than three-quarters report a physical disability, although many report multiple types.

People with disabilities are at higher risk of serious illness and death from coronavirus death due to higher rates of co-exisiting health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and chronic pulmonary obstructive disease:



People with disability are more likely to be poorer, not working and more socially isolated. This makes them more vulnerable to poor health outcomes during the pandemic.

Evidence for previous pandemics shows that health inequities worsen during epidemics as more marginalised communities have fewer resources (financial and social) and struggle to access necessary supplies and services.

On top of this, health information is rarely presented in an accessible format for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, such as Easy English (a style of writing that’s simple and concise) and/or pictorial formats.

People with disabilities must not be de-prioritised

At a time when there is unprecedented demand for health services, we need to ensure people with disability don’t miss out.




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Health services can be inadequate for people with disability at the best of times because of barriers such as physical inaccessibility, lack of understanding of a person’s disability, and cost.

We’ve already seen reports around the world that older people and those with disability have been de-prioritised in health services.

In Italy, the professional organisation that sets guidelines for intensive care has stated health resources should prioritise those with the highest chance of “therapeutic success”.

If people with disability have pre-existing health conditions, or if their particular impairment means their chance of recovery is diminished, they may be de-prioritised for intensive care.

Last week the Australia and New Zealand Intensive Care Society updated its guidelines for doctors, acknowledging that when the coronavirus pandemic peaks, difficult decisions may need to be made.

It recommends doctors make decisions based on the probable outcome, whether people have underlying health conditions, and the “burden of treatment” for the patient and their family.

The guidelines don’t mention people with disabilities, but it’s easy to see how an assessment of the “burden of treatment” could include people with intellectual disability becoming upset by treatment, or taking more time to deliver.




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Access to protective equipment and support

For people who require support with activities of daily living (dressing, bathing, meal preparation, and so on) it’s likely they have one or possibly several care workers who will move in and out of their home every day.

Currently, many workers don’t have access to protective equipment, such as gloves and masks.

Disability care workers’ movement across multiple homes makes it likely that some of them will acquire and transmit COVID-19 to the people they care for.

Many of those working in care roles are among some of the lowest paid in our society and many are employed on a casual basis. If they don’t work a shift, they will not be paid.

This means we might be incentivising people who desperately need income to take risks with their health and the health of the people they’re supporting.

Many people with disabilities don’t have the option of self-isolating.
Shutterstock

Some providers are choosing to cancel shifts and not put their staff at risk. This is one way to protect staff, but will leave some people with a disability in real need.

Even before this pandemic there were disability workforce shortages. This is likely to increase as the number of infections rises.

What should we do?

The following actions are urgently needed to protect people with a disability as the pandemic progresses:

  • the establishment of an expert committee with members who have expertise in the disability and health sectors to advise government

  • a new MBS item to develop COVID-19 health care plans with children and adults with complex disabilities, so they know how to implement social distancing and hygiene measures, and how to access tests and treatment

  • a dedicated coronavirus information hotline for people with disabilities, families and disability services, staffed by people with deep understanding of disability issues and underlying health issues

  • significant supplies of personal protective equipment (such as masks, gloves and gowns) for the disability support workforce to reduce transmission

  • government guarantees of income for care workers who may be sick, have caring responsibilities or have their shifts cancelled

  • the mobilisation of a broader disability workforce, for example by drawing on allied health students.

These actions won’t address all the inequities people with disabilities face, but they will be a good start.




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The Conversation


Helen Dickinson, Professor, Public Service Research, UNSW and Anne Kavanagh, Professor of Disability and Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Pauline Hanson is wrong – we need to include children with disability in regular classrooms


Linda J. Graham, Queensland University of Technology and Kate de Bruin, Monash University

Yesterday, One Nation leader and senator Pauline Hanson suggested it would be better for teachers if students with autism and disability were put in special classrooms.

Hanson used children with autism as an example. She argued that their inclusion in regular classrooms was detrimental to non-disabled students, because “it is taking up the teacher’s time”.

She suggested moving students with disability “into a special class [to be] looked after and given that special attention … to give them those opportunities”.

Do Hanson’s claims stack up?

Hanson claimed that students with disability have a negative impact on their peers. Yet international research shows otherwise. Some research suggests students with disability have no impact on the learning of other students – whether they are present or not.

Other research shows that students appear to benefit from having disabled peers. They develop greater appreciation for human diversity and capacity for positive relationships.

Hanson also claimed that students with disabilities were better served in separate classrooms or schools. Evidence shows the converse is true. Decades of research has concluded that students with disabilities who learn in inclusive classrooms make far greater progress.

For example, students with disabilities in mainstream schools achieve higher grades than their counterparts in segregated schools and classes. They also develop more proficiency in language and mathematics and perform better on standardised tests.

Hanson claimed that students with disabilities take a disproportionate amount of teachers’ time, at the expense of non-disabled students. Yet studies exploring the views of teachers strongly indicate that they perceive inclusion as beneficial and valuable.

Teachers are more likely to feel anxious about their ability to meet their students’ needs and overwhelmingly express a desire for more information and training in order to become better teachers for all their students.

Interestingly, teachers often cite students with autism as a major group with whom they want to improve their skills. Our research shows there are many highly effective strategies that can be used in regular classrooms to achieve this.

In addition, teachers who receive appropriate professional learning about disability and inclusion report feeling more knowledgeable and less stressed.

This points to the importance of providing high-quality education and training for teachers. It also suggests the need for ongoing professional development in the teaching workforce.

Support for students with disability in class

Students with disability are not always well supported in Australian schools, but this does not mean that they are better off in special classes or that “special attention” will lead to opportunity.

In fact, too much individualised support and attention can increase disablement by fostering dependence, reducing the range of learning opportunities, and hampering achievement.

For this reason, it is critical that students with disability are included in the “real world” of school. This is important for them to become socially competent, independent and financially secure adults.

Preparing for life after school

Having desegregated classrooms is also an important step in paving a positive future after school. Inclusive education makes a powerful contribution to creating a more equitable and productive society. This prepares adults with disability for life after school and connects them in the wider community.

Students with disabilities who are educated in inclusive classrooms are far more likely to complete post-secondary education, making them much more capable of engaging in the workforce and obtaining meaningful employment.

Additionally, students with disabilities who attend their local schools are also more socially connected and engaged in their community as adults.

Hanson’s comments were based on anecdotes from conversations with a limited number of teachers. However, there is both established and new evidence that clearly indicates Hanson’s claims are unsubstantiated.

The ConversationMost importantly, when considering the placement of children with disability in the schooling debate, we should focus on both promoting quality education for all kids (regardless of their backgrounds), and providing the tools for a society in which all adults can work, study and interact socially.

Linda J. Graham, Associate Professor in Education, Queensland University of Technology and Kate de Bruin, Researcher in Inclusive Education, Monash University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Australia has kept disabled migrant children out for decades – it’s time we gave them protection instead


Ruth Balint, UNSW

Assistant Immigration Minister Alex Hawke recently intervened to allow a 16-year-old girl with autism spectrum disorder, who had been ordered to leave Australia, to stay in the country. The Conversation

Sumaya Bhuiyan had been living in Australia for eight years, but was rejected for permanent residency in 2013. Her mother, a practising doctor in Sydney, told newspapers the immigration department had found Sumaya’s “moderate developmental delay” would be a burden to taxpayers.

Hawke’s personal intervention followed media coverage of the situation and a change.org petition that received nearly 38,000 signatures.

This isn’t the first time a minister intervened to prevent deportation of a family who have a dependent with a disability. In 2015, a Bangladeshi couple – also two doctors – with an autistic son had their application to stay in Australia approved.

For two years the Banik family exhausted all other avenues against the rejection of their autistic son for permanent residency. Their only recourse was to appeal directly to the immigration minister to intervene on compassionate grounds. After a widespread public appeal, Peter Dutton decided to let them stay.

Australia’s immigration laws require migrants to be screened for medical conditions. This is to prove they will not be a “burden” on the community, specifically its health services. Children are most affected by this policy, as costs are calculated over a lifetime.


Australia is causing significant mental harm to children in detention.

For someone found to be “burdensome”, the outcome isn’t always as positive as for Sumaya and the Baniks. A dozen or so families or their disabled members are deported from Australia every year.

Australian policies

Democracies have a long history of excluding people deemed undesirable as migrants. Those considered to have mental or physical disabilities are targeted most forcefully.

Australia has done little to ameliorate restrictions on disability in immigration policy. This is despite a 2010 parliamentary inquiry into the issue that recommended several changes to loosen them.

The chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Migration said at the time:

Australia needs a modern migration health assessment, with scope to positively recognise individual or overall family contributions to Australia and that takes into consideration development of contemporary medicine and social attitudes.

The Migration Act was amended in 1958 to remove restrictions based on race. But the health clause excluding people with disabilities remained. Despite ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the government ensured the Migration Act remained exempt from its own 1992 Disability Discrimination Act.

This means immigration is effectively quarantined from these national and international human rights instruments. The result is often that all able-bodied family members will receive permission to migrate to Australia, or gain permission to stay if they are already here, while a disabled child is refused. Families are either broken up or forced to leave.

The public has little awareness of this issue, due in part to the secrecy surrounding the formulation of migration criteria and policy.

The truly tragic dimensions of the issue were exposed most forcefully in the case of Sharaz Kiane in 2001. Kiane set himself on fire outside Parliament House in Canberra in protest of the government refusing him a visa. This seems to have been based on the fact his 10-year-old daughter had disabilities that required expensive medical treatment.

Kiane died of his injuries. An Ombudsman’s report described the history of Kiane’s case as “one of administrative ineptitude and of broken promises”.

A history of exclusion

My research has explored stories of families who gave up their disabled children in the period after the second world war. They often did this under duress to forge new lives in countries like Australia, the US and Canada.

They were known as Displaced Persons, mainly of eastern European origin. Most had survived Nazi concentration camps and forced labour schemes. Displaced Persons’ migration to the few western countries available for resettlement was complicated by the requirements of various migration schemes.

Displaced Persons’ migration to the few western countries available for resettlement was complicated by the requirements of various migration schemes.
Wikimedia Commons

These were largely created to satisfy the labour demands of postwar economies. Physical fitness for manual work was the most important factor in assessing potential migrants for countries like Australia and Canada. Single, able-bodied men were therefore most desirable.

In family units, dependants were not allowed to outnumber breadwinners. Despite the proclaimed motives of rescue and humanitarianism towards Nazism’s victims, western migrant selection missions carefully checked each displaced person for traces of physical or mental damage. They excluded anyone who didn’t meet the strict requirements.

Many survivors of concentration camps and Nazi forced labour were rejected, as were the elderly and handicapped. A mass check of more than 100,000 displaced persons in 1948, for example, revealed half of them were still suffering from the effects of malnutrition and hardship.

Children who were disabled were also categorically rejected, often forcing parents with other children to make drastic decisions. Moral pressure by allied welfare workers to institutionalise disabled children contributed to children being left behind in Europe by families who emigrated.

The break-up of families is a relatively well-known consequence of Nazi Germany’s policies of forced labour, population transfers and liquidations. There has been far less recognition of the ways western governments furthered these separations through immigration policies that ignored postwar humanitarian ideals.

What now for Australia?

An irony is while Australia is actively excluding those classified as a burden because of their disability, it is disabling people by its policy of offshore detention.

As has been widely documented, children detained in Australia’s remote offshore detention centres suffer from sexual and physical assault. Some have self–harmed or threatened suicide.

Research also shows that children who spend time in immigration detention are often plagued by nightmares, anxiety, depression and poor concentration. They may suffer from post traumatic stress disorder for many years after the experience.

The protection of children is often hailed as the strongest evidence of a civilised society. This claim cannot, at present, be held by Australia if its most vulnerable members – children who are refugees and who might require first-world care because they are disabled – are being actively discriminated against in the name of an impoverished calculus of burden, cost and contribution.

Ruth Balint, Senior Lecturer in History, UNSW

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Greece: Pedophilia Added to List of Disabilities


The article below reports on an unbelieveable situation in Greece – pedophilia being added to a list of disabilities! Does this mean pedophiles now qualify for disability benefits? You have to be kidding??? No, it seems they aren’t.

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/outrage-as-greece-adds-pedophilia-to-list-of-disabilities

 

Sterilize the unfit says British professor David Marsland


The mentally and morally “unfit” should be sterilized, Professor David Marsland, a sociologist and health expert, said this weekend. The professor made the remarks on the BBC radio program Iconoclasts, which advertises itself as the place to “think the unthinkable,” reports Hilary White, LifeSiteNews.com.

Pro-life advocates and disability rights campaigners have responded by saying that Marsland’s proposed system is a straightforward throwback to the coercive eugenics practices of the past.

Marsland, Emeritus Scholar of Sociology and Health Sciences at Brunel University, London and Professorial Research Fellow in Sociology at the University of Buckingham, told the BBC that “permanent sterilization” is the solution to child neglect and abuse.

“Children are abused or grossly neglected by a very small minority of inadequate parents.” Such parents, he said, are not distinguished by “disadvantage, poverty or exploitation,” he said, but by “a number or moral and mental inadequacies” caused by “serious mental defect,” “chronic mental illness” and drug addiction and alcoholism.

“Short of lifetime incarceration,” he said, the solution is “permanent sterilization.”

The debate, chaired by the BBC’s Edward Stourton, was held in response to a request by a local council in the West Midlands that wanted to force contraception on a 29-year-old woman who members of the council judged was mentally incapable of making decisions about childrearing. The judge in the case refused to permit it, saying such a decision would “raise profound questions about state intervention in private and family life.”

Children whose parents are alcoholics or drug addicts can be rescued from abusive situations, but, Marlsand said, “Why should we allow further predictable victims to be harmed by the same perpetrators? Here too, sterilization provides a dependable answer.”

He dismissed possible objections based on human rights, saying that “Rights is a grossly overused and fundamentally incoherent concept … Neither philosophers nor political activists can agree on the nature of human rights or on their extent.”

Complaints that court-ordered sterilization could be abused “should be ignored,” he added. “This argument would inhibit any and every action of social defense.”

Brian Clowes, director of research for Human Life International (HLI), told LifeSiteNews (LSN) that in his view Professor Marsland is just one more in a long line of eugenicists who want to solve human problems by erasing the humans who have them. Clowes compared Marsland to Lothrop Stoddard and Margaret Sanger, prominent early 20th century eugenicists who promoted contraception and sterilization for blacks, Catholics, the poor and the mentally ill and disabled whom they classified as “human weeds.”

He told LSN, “It does not seem to occur to Marsland that most severe child abuse is committed by people he might consider ‘perfectly normal,’ people like his elitist friends and neighbors.”

“Most frightening of all,” he said, “is Marsland’s dismissal of human rights. In essence, he is saying people have no rights whatsoever, because there is no universal agreement on what those rights actually are.”

The program, which aired on Saturday, August 28, also featured a professor of ethics and philosophy at Oxford, who expressed concern about Marland’s proposal, saying, “There are serious problems about who makes the decisions, and abuses.” Janet Radcliffe Richards, a Professor of Practical Philosophy at Oxford, continued, “I would dispute the argument that this is for the sake of the children.

“It’s curious case that if the child doesn’t exist, it can’t be harmed. And to say that it would be better for the child not to exist, you need to be able to say that its life is worse than nothing. Now I think that’s a difficult thing to do because most people are glad they exist.”

But Radcliffe Richards refused to reject categorically the notion of forced sterilization as a solution to social problems. She said there “is a really serious argument” about the “cost to the rest of society of allowing people to have children when you can pretty strongly predict that those children are going to be a nuisance.”

Marsland’s remarks also drew a response from Alison Davis, head of the campaign group No Less Human, who rejected his entire argument, saying that compulsory sterilization would itself be “an abuse of some of the most vulnerable people in society.”

Marsland’s closing comments, Davis said, were indicative of his anti-human perspective. In those remarks he said that nothing in the discussion had changed his mind, and that the reduction of births would be desirable since “there are too many people anyway.”

Davis commented, “As a disabled person myself I find his comments offensive, degrading and eugenic in content.

“The BBC is supposed to stand against prejudicial comments against any minority group. As such it is against it’s own code of conduct, as well as a breach of basic human decency, to broadcast such inflammatory and ableist views.”

Report from the Christian Telegraph

PAKISTANI CHURCH WALLS HIT WITH SLOGANS HAILING THE TALIBAN


At least three Pakistani Christian men, who were protesting against pro Taliban and Al-Qaeda slogans written on their local churches, have been injured in a gun battle between law enforcement agencies and Pashto-speaking suspected militant Muslims on Wednesday (April 22, 2009) afternoon, reports Dan Wooding and Sheraz Khurram Khan, special to ASSIST News Service.

Pashto language is spoken by people in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan and also by the residents of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Christian residents of Taseer Town awoke on Wednesday morning to discover the slogans, “Taliban Zindabad” (Long-Live the Taliban) and “Al-Qaeda Zindabad” (Long Live Al-Qaeda), which are thought to be have been posted by some unidentified people, on the walls of different churches in their town located in Sector 35 Lyari, in the port city of Karachi.

They were so upset that some of them set ablaze tires and blocked the roads, bringing the traffic in the area to a standstill.

Heavy contingents of rangers and police rushed to the scene to disperse the protesting Christians.

Michael Javaid, a former member of the Sindh Provincial Assembly, spoke to ANS from tension-ridden area of Taseer Town apprised ANS that three Christians were injured as firing broke out between law enforcement agencies’ officials and militants at 11:30 am Pakistan time on Wednesday.

He alleged that the police opened fire on protesting Christians instead of protecting them. The injured were taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital in Karachi.

One of the injured, Imran Masih, received a bullet to his head and was rush to the hospital where his condition is said to be “critical.” The other two injured Christian men were later identified as Qudus Masih and Irfan Masih.

ANS has discovered that Qudus received an injury to his arm. Javaid, who visited the injured in the hospital, said the medics had plastered Qudus arm. He apprehended that the Christian man would have arm-disability all his life.

Three houses of Christians in the Taseer Town have also been burned. ANS could not ascertain what caused fire.

Javaid told ANS the police “manhandled protesting Christian men and women,” adding that the police removed the Christian women from the protest site by “pulling them from their hair.”

He claimed suspected militants also forced their entry into a church in the area and “desecrated Bibles.”

Javaid said he witnessed rangers removing slogans in favour of Pakistani Taliban and Al-Qaeda from the walls of churches.

Asked if the police have registered First Information Report (FIR) against assailants, Michael said the police have instead arrested two Christian men and four workers of Pakistan Peoples Party, who he said had come to express their solidarity with the Christians from their nearby office.

Recent attack on Christians and churches by Islamists comes about three months as two churches in Karachi were attacked on New Year’s Eve.

The incident has sparked fear and uncertainty among the Christian residents of Karachi. The tense situation has prompted several Christian women to flee their homes.

Asked if this was beginning of the “Talibanization of Karachi,” he said that a sizable number of Taliban had entered the city “in an attempt to press their demands of enforcing Sharia Justice System in the Sindh Province.

He termed the sketching of walls of churches in Karachi with slogans backing Taliban and Al-Qaeda as a “conspiracy” to slap Sharia Justice System on Pakistani Christians.

When ANS drew his attention to Taliban’s taking control of Buner district which is only 96 kilometers (60 miles) from capital Islamabad, he said they (Taliban) were bent upon enforcing Sharia Justice System across Pakistan.

He pointed out that the Taliban in Orakzai, located at border of the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, had already started demanding Jaziya (Minority tax) from Sikhs there.

“I fear the Taliban will start demanding minority tax from Pakistani Christians too,” he said.

He added: “Christians are not a ‘conquered community.’ They are not supposed to pay any minority tax.”

Javaid appealed to Pakistan President, Asif Ali Zardari, and Prime Minister, Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, to ensure protection of the lives and properties of Pakistani Christians

Report from the Christian Telegraph

‘LEGAL’ PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS IN EU CONTINUES


Christian lobbyists in the UK are calling a pending EU directive that would introduce a policy similar to Britain’s Sexual Orientation Regulations to all member states, a “threat to religious freedom.” Pro-family activists fear that the inclusion of sexual orientation as a protected grounds for discrimination may leave European Christians and others vulnerable to legal actions, reports Hilary White, LifeSiteNews.com.

The proposed directive aims to outlaw discrimination in the provision of goods and services and may also outlaw ‘harassment.’

Critics have also said that the directive would mean that countries which legally recognise same-sex civil partnerships would be required to expand their provisions to include homosexual adoption. It is also feared that the directive’s definition of harassment is so broad that even explanations of Christian beliefs on sexual conduct or those of other religions like Islam, could fall foul of the law.

In April 2008, the BBC reported that the directive had been “shelved.” Jan Jarab of the Employment Department of the Commission told the BBC that “signals” from some member states indicated that there would not be the required unanimous consent on a blanket anti-discrimination law that would include “sexual orientation.”

In May 2008, however, the European Parliament issued a memo reminding MEPs of the “commitment to put forward a comprehensive directive covering disability, age, religion or belief and sexual orientation.”

Accordingly, the EU Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) last week voted to approve the final version of its report on the issue. This will now go to the EU Parliament for a vote in early April on whether to adopt the report as its own recommendations on the directive. Power to enact, amend or reject the directive lies with the Council of the European Union, a body composed of government representatives from each of the 27 member states.

The Christian Institute, the UK’s most prominent Christian lobby group, argues that similar laws in the UK and other nations have caused serious erosion of religious liberty and the exclusion of Christianity from the public sphere.

The Christian Institute called the “harassment” provision one of the “most alarming” aspects of the proposed legislation. The directive defines it as the creation of an “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”

(With files from the Christian Institute)

Report from the Christian Telegraph