29 September 2016
AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook
Geographic areas




  • > Africa
  • > Central Asia
  • > Europe
  • > Middle East
  • > Nord America
  • > North Asia
  • > South Asia
  •    - Afghanistan
  •    - Bangladesh
  •    - Bhutan
  •    - India
  •    - Nepal
  •    - Pakistan
  •    - Sri Lanka
  • > South East Asia
  • > South West Asia
  • > Sud America
  • > East Asia

  • mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato


    » 12/10/2004, 00.00

    PAKISTAN – HUMAN RIGHTS

    Religious minorities, persecuted and marginalised

    Qaiser Felix

    Non-Muslims are marginalised from the country's political and social life despite guarantees for equal rights and obligations under the 1947 constitution.

    Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Religious minorities are discriminated in Pakistan and a wind of religious intolerance is sweeping across the land as Muslim religious leaders purse the goal of 'islamisation'. These are some of the conclusions reached in the Annual Report on Religious freedom released by the US government.

    Many Pakistani human rights groups and activists agree. They denounce discriminatory religious laws and an atmosphere of religious intolerance against non-Muslims that pervades the country. Although President Pervez Musharraf has condemned sectarian violence, measures taken against it have proved a failure.

    Recent Pakistani history has been marked by local clashes over religion. Since Sharia law was introduced in 1991, violence and attacks by Islamic fundamentalists against minorities have grown exponentially.

    In 1997, the Christian village of Shanti Nagar in southern Punjab was attacked by a mob of 30,000 Islamic extremists: 1,500 homes were looted and 80 per cent of the village was torched. Fourteen churches in nearby Khanewal were also destroyed.

    Discrimination takes many forms, some seemingly minor. In some areas, restaurant owners ask their patrons' for their religion before serving them. One restaurant in Hafizabad (Gujranwala district) has separate utensils and wash-basins for Muslims and non-Muslims.

    It was not always like that. On the eve of independence on August 11, 1947, Pakistan's founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah, said in a speech to the Constituent Assembly that everyone, "no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations."

    "You are free," Jinnah said, "free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of state."

    The Republic of Pakistan with its inclusive constitution was thus born, a republic whose principles were soon put aside by the country's political and religious leaders.

    In 1964, General Ayub Khan amended the Constitution to add the prefix "Islamic" to the name.

    Thereafter, the country was known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and its constitution included many references to the Qu'ran and the Sunnah.

    By 1973, Islam had become the state religion and some Islamic provisions now applied to non-Muslim as well.

    The net result of this trend has been that Christians and Ahmadis (a religious movement within Islam that mainstream Muslims consider heretical) are now marginalised from the country's political, social and cultural life.

    Under the current Constitution, both the President and the Prime Minister must be Muslims and all senior officials must swear allegiance to the country's 'Islamic ideology'.

    Muslim religious leaders pursue the agenda of Islamisation making use of the Hudood Ordinances that the late General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq introduced in 1979 in cooperation with Muslim fundamentalists and in accordance to precepts of the Qu'ran and the Sunnah. Such ordinances—the Blasphemy Law for instance— are discriminatory and disproportionately target non-Muslims.

    With the introduction of Sharia Law in 1991, Muslims who convert to other religions risk the death penalty as apostates.

    Until October 2002, Pakistan was the only country in the world where voters were not allowed to vote for candidates outside their religious affiliations. The separate electoral system (SES) promoted religious apartheid and eroded Pakistan's democracy.

    Civil marriages do not exist; marriages are performed and registered according to one's religion. Upon conversion to Islam, the marriages of Christian men remain legal; however, upon conversion to Islam, the marriages of Christian women, or of other non-Muslims that were performed under the rites of the previous religion, are considered dissolved. Children born to Christian women who convert to Islam after marriage are considered illegitimate if their husbands do not also convert or if they do not separate from their husbands. Children of non-Muslim men who convert are not considered illegitimate.

    The Ministry of Religious Affairs, which is supposed to protect religious freedom, operates according to the quranic principle that "Islam is the only religion acceptable to God."

     The Ministry claims that it spends 30 percent of its annual budget to assist indigent minorities, to repair minority places of worship, to set up minority-run small development schemes, and to celebrate minority festivals. However, using official budget figures for expenditures in 1998, the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Bishops' Conference of Pakistan calculated that per month the government actually spent PR 160 (or US$ 3.20) per religious minority citizen compared to PR 850 (or US) per Muslim. That is just under 19 per cent.

    e-mail this to a friend Printable version










    See also

    12/09/2009 PAKISTAN
    Punjab, Muslim extremists burn church over alleged blasphemy case
    The call to hunt Christians launched at local mosque after the Friday prayers. The mob stormed and set fire to the church, ransacked two houses. Muslims accuse a young Christian had desecrated the Koran. In reality the young man is involved with a Muslim girl.

    03/03/2011 PAKISTAN
    Punjab: Christians fear more massacres after churches and tombs are desecrated
    Kot Addu’s Christian community is facing more wrongdoings by local landlords who grabbed Christian-owned fields and shops with the complicity of local police and officials. Christian symbols are desecrated but the blasphemy law is not applied in this case. Local authorities say accusations are all made up but fail to provide legal backing for grabbing Christian property.

    14/10/2004 INDONESIA
    Two Christians Killed in Sulawesi


    30/10/2004 IRAQ
    Elections will improve things, Mosul priest says
    We are praying for your commitment to a peaceful and democratic Iraq, US bishops say in a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi.

    21/11/2011 PAKISTAN
    Faisalabad: accused of blasphemy, woman freed thanks to help from Christians and Muslims
    Catholic priest expresses gratitude to Muslim community for conducting “an in-depth investigation” before condemning the Christian woman. He hopes that “a culture of peace and religious harmony” will always prevail. The accused in the case after was charged under the black law over a legal dispute.



    Editor's choices

    ASIANEWS SYMPOSIUM
    Mother Teresa, Mercy for Asia and for the world (VIDEO)



    We publish the video recordings of the presentations made at the international symposium organised by AsiaNews on 2 September. In order of appearance: Fr Ferruccio Brambillasca, PIME Superior General; Card Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide; Sr Mary Prema, Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity; Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, postulator of the Cause of Mother Teresa; Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai; Fr John A. Worthley, on the influence of Mother Teresa in China; a witness to the influence of Mother Teresa in the Islamic world; and Mgr Paul Hinder, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia.


    CHINA-VATICAN
    Beijing issues new, harsh draft regulations on religious activities

    Bernardo Cervellera

    Fines of up to 200 thousand yuan (27 thousand euro) for "illegal religious activities" by Catholic or other members of underground communities. "Illegal activities" include "dependence from abroad" (such as the relationship with the Vatican). The regulations preach non-discrimination, but party members are forbidden to practice their religion, even in private. Strict control of buildings, statues, crosses. Clampdown on the internet. It could be the end of the underground community.
     


    AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!

    AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.
     

    SUBSCRIBE NOW

    News feed

    Canale RSScanale RSS 

    Add to Google









     

    IRAN 2016 Banner

    2003 © All rights reserved - AsiaNews C.F. e P.Iva: 00889190153 - GLACOM®