Ooberfuse sings for religious freedom

Electro-pop band Ooberfuse were in Toronto, Canada, on Friday to join a protest against the treatment of minority groups in Pakistan.

Ooberfuse were headlining the James 2-8 Benefit, organised by Love Thy Neighbour International.

They were joined by the President of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), Wilson Chowdhry, and performed three songs, including Blood Cries Out written in memory of assassinated Minister of Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti.

Wilson said: "While the affluent societies of the Western world go about their daily business blissfully unaware for the most part of the plight of their fellow human beings around the world, Christians and other minority groups are being violently persecuted in countries like Pakistan.

"The trip to Canada is a unique opportunity to build bridges with fellow Pakistani's who have fled persecution so that united with them, we can together sound a wake-up call to the powerful nations of the world to eradicate once and for all the disease of religious persecution that infects so many societies to their shame and detriment."

The band also performed Free Asia Bibi, a song protesting the imprisonment and death sentence against Christian mother of five Asia Bibi for blasphemy.

The event was held to speak up for Pakistan's persecuted minorities, including Christians who are often falsely accused of blasphemy and even killed for their faith.

Funds raised by the event will go towards development projects in Pakistan.

Ooberfuse front-woman Cherrie Anderson said it was an honour and a "grave responsibility to enkindle in the hearts of the movers and shakers of Canadian society anxious concern for the plight of non-Muslim groups in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan".

"Music has the unique power to arouse deep feelings of solidarity, in this case with those suffering groups in Pakistan," she said.

"Canada leads the way among other nations in terms of deploying its constitutional powers if not to topple a deeply intolerant regime in Pakistan then at least to provide sanctuary to those fleeing violence and aggressive persecution.

"I think this has something to do with the exemplary way Canada has treated its own marginalised groups like the indigenous First Nation peoples."

Fellow band member Nico Cox added: "It is a great honour for us not just to perform our songs before Canadian dignitaries, but to hold hands with Shahbaz's surviving family many of whom have found a safe refuge in Canada. Shahbaz's bother and his niece will be present at the event."