NEW YORK — A former Pakistani parliamentarian advocating for equal treatment for religious minorities back home claims life is sometimes hell for the Islamic Republic's Christian minorities, who are often victimized by blasphemy laws and bear the brunt of public resentment against Western nations like the United States.
"Due to our faith, we are persecuted. People are killing us, people are burning us, and people are putting us in jail. And (the) state (has) failed to protect the rights (of Christians) and (have failed in) their responsibility," said political and human rights activist Pervez Rafique. "The state doesn't have any solid and concrete policy and agenda and plan to protect marginalized and persecuted Christians and other non-Muslims in Pakistan."
Rafique, a former minority member of parliament representing the Pakistan People's Party in Punjab, worked alongside Shahbaz Bhatti, the Christian minorities minister who was assassinated in 2011, as a chief coordinator for All Pakistan Minorities Alliance. At the time of transition prompted by Bhatti's murder, a clash with the former leader's family members forced Rafique and supporters to leave the organization he had served for more than 10 years. Since then, Rafique has helped found another group, with a similar name, the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance-Founders, which in combination with the PAK Christian Fellowship, represents around 25,000 people, he told The Christian Post. more >>
Thousands of Christians clashed with police and rioted on the streets in Lahore, Pakistan, on Monday, following suicide bombing attacks that killed 17 people in two churches on Sunday. Reports have said that two men suspected to have aided the attackers were beaten to death and burned in the riots.
The Associated Press reported that Christians, who make up only 2 percent of Pakistan's population, clashed with police forces, blocked the highway and ransacked bus terminals, demanding the government start taking serious action to protect the persecuted minority.
At least 14 people have been killed and nearly 80 others were injured in two church bombings carried out by a Pakistani Taliban splinter group on Sunday in the Christian neighborhood of Youhanabad, Lahore. The Catholic faithful are marking a "day of prayer for the innocent lives of the martyrs" on Monday to honor the victims.
Reuters reported that the death toll might've been higher, if it wasn't for the quick actions of a security guard who attempted to prevent one of the suicide bombers from entering one of the churches.
"I was sitting at a shop near the church when a blast jolted the area. I rushed toward the spot and saw the security guard scuffle with a man who was trying to enter the church. After failing, he blew himself up," said witness Amir Masih. more >>
The son of a Pakistani Christian servant, who was accused of stealing from her employer's home, was killed by local police officers last weekend after he was arrested and beaten in hopes that his beating would force his mother to confess to the burglary.
The British Pakistani Christian Association reported that the body of 20-year-old Zubair Rashid Masih was dumped onto the street in front of his mother's home in the early morning of March 8 in the Shamsabad area of the Punjab province.
On March 4, his mother, Aysha Bibi, was arrested on charges that she stole about 35,000 rupees and 100 grams in gold ornaments from the home where she worked as a domestic servant. more >>
An organization based in the United Kingdom continues to push for justice on behalf of two Christian girls who were gang raped by five Pakistani Muslims.
Last December the Pakistani teenagers, named Sherish and Farzana who live in the Islamic Republic's Punjab province, were reportedly gang raped by the five Muslim men because they're Christian.
The British Pakistani Christian Association has stepped in to help Sherish and Farzana, as well as their family, in the wake of the gang rape and at least one violent incident of intimidation. more >>
Christian Pakistani man Imtiaz Masih has been acquitted after a four-year legal battle when he was tortured and forced to confess to the killing of his Muslim employer's brother.
The European Center of Law and Justice announced on Thursday that its affiliate in Pakistan, the Organization for Legal Aid, managed to successfully acquit Masih after a court found that the prosecution witnesses made conflicting statements, and could not be trusted.
"False accusations of crimes are all too common in Pakistan. Usually, people falsely accuse others to settle personal scores or simply to implicate an easy target to divert attention from the real culprit," the ECLJ explained. more >>