Three Muslim men have reportedly been arrested after forcing a Christian family to convert to Islam at gunpoint earlier this week, Pakistan's local police force is reporting.
Local police official Abdul Ghafoor reported that the men, all in their 30's, had broken into the home of a large Christian family and tortured them, forcing them to convert to Islam at gunpoint. The family members tortured by the men were allegedly related to the recently deceased Boota Masih, a 58-year-old gold scavenger who was attacked and stabbed in the Karachi's Liaquatabad Gold Market earlier in September. Masih had been accused of blasphemy against the prophet Mohammed, and his throat was allegedly slit by a Muslim extremist as policemen and security guards looked on.
Police official Ghafoor told The Hindu that the three men, one of whom has been described in reports as an Islamic extremist, were arrested in the suburbs of Islamabad, the country's capital, earlier this week after attacking Masih's family members. Masih is survived by five daughters and two sons. One of his sons, George, told Morning Star News previously that he and his brother live in fear of going to work after their father's death, fearing they too will be targeted by Islamic extremists. more >>
Some school textbooks in Pakistan include lessons teaching students that killing Christians is a goal that must be achieved for them to obtain martyrdom, according to a report prepared by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
The report also included claims that Islamist groups in Pakistan are launching regular attacks against non-Muslim Pakistanis as well as some sects of Muslims such as Shiites and Ahmadi, whom they do not consider to be real Muslims.
The report states that official and independent media, government leaders and religious scholars have legitimized hate against religious minorities, with the term "minority" itself having come to be seen in a pejorative context. more >>
Between 200-300 Pakistani Muslims and Christians united and gathered to make a human chain around a church in Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city on Sunday.
Held on Oct. 6, just two weeks after a church bombing killed more than 100 people in Peshawar, the human chain, organized by the citizen group "Pakistan for All," is part of the movement's goal to raise awareness about minority rights and concerns.
The Archbishop of Karachi and the head of the Council of Pakistani Bishops revealed that Christians in the country are under constant pressure to convert to Islam, most notably in schools.
In the wake of the deadliest church bombing in the country, Bishop Joseph Coats sent a note to an Italian association named Aid to Churches in Need, stating that Pakistan "is one of the most difficult countries to live in for Christians."
"The daily lives of religious minorities in Pakistan are characterized by poverty, injustice and discrimination. Non-Muslims are identified as second-class citizens in school textbooks. Teachers repeatedly ask students to write essays titled: write a letter to your friend encouraging him to convert to Islam," according to the Italian AKI agency. more >>
The deadliest attack on Christians ever on Pakistani soil that left 83 people dead on Sunday has been condemned by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which warned that words will not be enough to stop the violence against religious minorities in the Islamic nation.
"Mere words will not do. The government of Newaz Sharif must take robust measures to end violence against Christians and other religious minorities and the cycle of impunity that plagues Pakistan. Arrests and prosecutions will send a powerful message that the government takes seriously its responsibility to protect citizens of all faiths," USCIRF chairman Robert George said in a statement.
Two suicide blasts on Sunday left 83 people dead and over 150 wounded at the All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan. The attack occurred when over 400 worshipers were leaving church services, with a faction of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claiming responsibility. more >>
Pakistani Christians have expressed grief and outrage on Monday, holding protests as well as prayer vigils in response to the shocking weekend church bombings that killed 85 worshippers at a church service on Sunday. The reaction has come as further details emerge about the bombings, which have confirmed that Taliban Islamic terrorists packed their bombs with metal ball bearings to maximize the bloodshed and death toll in their suicide bombings in Peshawar, now believed to be the largest in the country's history directed at its Christian population.
In Peshawar, mourners viscerally reacted as they took in just how many casualties the bomb had caused.
"Some broke down on the spot, seeing the long line of coffins, the hundreds of women sitting beside them, clutching them and sobbing, the men hugging and crying, their children looking bewildered," described the BBC's Aleem Maqbool. more >>