» 06/10/2010, 00.00
In "Talibanized" Pakistan Christians are victims of yet more attacks
In Punjab a group of Muslims attack a Protestant pastor and his pregnant wife, injuring her in the stomach. In the province 250 Christian families have fled their homes, because they reported sexual abuse against women. Christian couple accused of blasphemy in Karachi.
Khanewal (AsiaNews / Agencies) – There are still cases of religious persecution in Pakistan, a large majority Muslim nation where religious minorities are often victims of abuse and violence. In Punjab a group of 14 Muslims attacked a Protestant pastor and his wife who was expecting a baby. In a district of the same province, the Muslim village chief has ordered 250 Christian families to flee their homes because "Christian women and girls have reported repeated sexual abuse." In Sindh province, finally, a couple was indicted for blasphemy and threatened with the death penalty.
International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that on 3 June in Sahiwal, Punjab, 14 Muslims attacked a Protestant pastor, his pregnant wife and his brother. At the base of the attack were charges of "evangelizing" against Mumtaz Masih, pastor of the Full Gospel Church of Pakistan and his wife Noreen. Imam Ahmed Maqsood led the punitive expedition, injuring the man's legs, and his wife in the stomach and hand. His brother was assaulted while trying to help his relatives. The couple complained to the police, but the police do not want to open an investigation.
Jonathan Racho, ICC chief for South Asia, strongly condemns "the violence against pastor Mumtaz and his family." He adds that Pakistani Christians are victims of assault "because they express their faith in Christ", but the faithful want to stay "with vigour" in their homeland "despite the persecution."
In Khanewal district, also in Punjab, the chief of a village with a Muslim majority has ordered 250 Christian families to leave the area because "they are too vigorously denouncing sexual violence by Muslims against women and girls”. Most Christians in the area are labourers on Muslim owned land and the women domestic servants in homes. The abuses were occurring in homes, almost "daily." "Christians - denounce the displaced - are totally at the mercy of the will of Muslims."
Finally in the town of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, a suburb of Karachi (Sindh), two Christians couples must answer charges of blasphemy. A crowd of Muslims ransacked the garbage of the four, saying they had found torn pages of the Koran. The court issued an arrest warrant and the police started searches. The two pairs of Christians have abandoned the rented house and are still at large. Christian sources complain that officials have threatened the family, to reveal the place where the four are hidden. In Pakistan the crime of blasphemy carries life imprisonment or even death.
Police fail to uphold amended Blasphemy Law
The chairman of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance criticises police following attacks against Christians and Hindus in Noswhera and after a man is arrested for allegedly desecrating the Qu'ran.
Blasphemy law: death threats against teenage girl forces family to flee
Faisalabad: Muslim leaders defend young Christian against false blasphemy accusations
Philip Masih was accused of removing a poster on a shop wall by a Muslim neighbour who got armed men together to punish the alleged blasphemer. The police and the authorities successfully prevented a violent escalation. The two had argued before and the Muslim man wanted revenge.
Pakistani (and Christian) women lead the defence of minority rights
Romana Bashir has dedicated her life to interfaith harmony and women's education in order to change the country's mindset. Today she is a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Women's presence in political institutions and civil society is "a positive sign".
Punjab: Christian family held slave to a Muslim landowner for 30 years
The father had signed a loan for his daughter's wedding. Interest rates of up to 500%, made it impossible to repay the money. So 26 people, including women and children, have lived like modern slaves in ten household of a Muslim. More cases of marriages and forced conversions of Christian girls.
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