Calls for Pakistan’s New Government to Protect Christians

PAKISTAN — Pakistan is expecting a change of government following recent elections. And one challenge that will face the new Prime Minister and his party will be to protect the country’s Christian minority from violence. The violence is often linked with accusations of blasphemy, as Andrew Boyd from Release International reports.

There are calls for Pakistan’s new government to ban forced conversions and repeal the country’s notorious blasphemy laws. Concern is growing over the rise in persecution against Christians in Pakistan, often by vigilante mobs on unfounded accusations that Christians have committed blasphemy.

Simmering violence came to a head last August when a Muslim mob attacked a Christian community in Jaranwala. They burnt church buildings and homes after a cry went out over mosque loudspeakers that torn pages of the Koran had been found in the Christian district. Thousands of protesters armed with sticks had to be restrained by the army. Months later, many Christians are still awaiting compensation. The Christian community in Jaranwala say the mob damaged 146 houses, while the government has paid out compensation to just 76.

Although hundreds of people took part in the attacks, many filming it for social media with their faces clearly visible, most of those arrested have been granted bail. An appeal has been made to the Supreme Court for justice.

A Pakistan organisation which provides legal aid to victims say the police have made matters worse. They intimidated and humiliated the complainants and witnesses, deterring some from even identifying the suspects, they claim.

There have been growing numbers of attacks against Christians in Pakistan as intolerance continues to rise. In February, six Muslim gunmen on motorcycles opened fire at two school boys, killing one who was just 14. They shouted, “No Christian in the area should be left alive.”

And in November, a 20-year-old Christian medical student was shot in his home. A gunman held the family hostage for nearly 40 minutes, claiming they were Jews. He refused to let the family tend their wounded son, who later died. In another attack, a Muslim cleric is accused of abducting two Christian brothers at gunpoint and beating them with iron rods to make them convert to Islam. He forced them to record a video statement saying they were converting of their own free will. Police later arrested the Muslim cleric.

Release International is calling on Pakistan’s new government to take immediate action to prevent forced conversions and to repeal the unjust blasphemy laws which are disproportionately used to target Christians.

About Release International

Release International is a Christian ministry working through local church partners in around 30 countries across the world, helping persecuted Christians prayerfully, pastorally and practically. The ministry was founded in 1968, inspired by the testimony and ministry of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. Following the demise of Communism in Eastern Europe and the increase in the persecution of Christians elsewhere in the world, the Ministry broadened its activities and changed its name to Release International.

Read more news on Christian Ministry, and Christian Persecution on Missions Box.


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