Reports of Islamic extremists attacking people of others faiths in India and Pakistan have been growing in recent years, resulting in beatings and even beheadings.
On March 30, at a Christian church in the West Bengal state of India, a 65-year-old woman widow was beaten after Islamist extremists forced their way into the church, Compass Direct News reported. The 11 or so members of the church were attacked simply for gathering and worshipping Christ, and the Islamists called them "pagans" as they continuously kicked and beat them.
In the same area of Nutangram earlier in March, a 22-year old woman was driven from her predominantly Muslim village after she thanked Christ for being healed from an illness – apparently, even her Muslim parents joined in the subsequent attack by Islamists who wanted her and her beliefs out of the village.
The religious persecution is reportedly just as bad in neighboring Pakistan, where Christians are targeted even by government authorities. Currently, a Christian mother of five, Asia Bibi, is on death row for allegedly blaspheming the name of the prophet Muhammad two years ago, an accusation filed by co-workers at a field she was working on.
Bibi insists all she was doing was defending her Christian faith, but has been jailed nonetheless – and even if the Pakistani court finds her not guilty and releases her, many Islamic leaders have placed a bounty on her head, The New American reported.
Islamic militants have also targeted Sikhs in the same region – according to The Associated Press, atrocities by Muslim extremists against religious minorities in the area are so common that they are at most only condemnation by officials, but rarely punished.
Militants captured three Sikhs returning from Afghanistan to their homes in Pakistan in 2010, demanding a ransom for the victims. Although two of the captives were rescued, 30-year-old Jaspal Singh was beheaded after his family was unable to provide the money for his release.
"That news pierced my heart," said 62-year old Muhammed Khurshid Khan. "How could Muslims do such harm to such a peaceful community?" he added.
Khan, a Muslim and former government lawyer, took on "seva," or selfless service, after the news of the beheading and began serving Sikh communities in Pakistan by polishing shoes and cooking meals in efforts to atone for the atrocities of the extremist members of his faith – but violence from militant Islamists against Christians and members of other religions continues to spread throughout the region.