12/11/2006, 00.00
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Religious minorities worse off in 2006

by Qaiser Felix
All Pakistan Minorities Alliance chairman speaks out against the situation on International Human Rights Day. He complains about the misuses of national laws and the growing social discrimination as well as the inaction of Christian politicians.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – The situation of Christians and other minorities in Pakistan has “gone from bad to worse in 2006” whilst “blasphemy regulations are increasingly being used in twisted ways against the weakest groups in society,” Shahbaz Bhatti, chairman of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, told AsiaNews on International Human Rights Day.

“The misuse of the blasphemy law increased alarmingly,” he noted. “Many cases filed against Christians are baseless. The number of rapes and kidnappings of minority women have also increased.”

“The government,” he added, “has not been able to control the misuse of the blasphemy regulations. There have been attacks against some churches in Punjab with the police remaining idle. The fear and sense of insecurity in all religious minorities has increased.”

Recent changes to the Hudood Ordinances made by the government “are a step forward but other issues of concern to religious minorities like harassment have not been properly addressed”.

Although religious minorities have launched campaigns for interfaith harmony and called on Muslims to join them in a dialogue, it was all for naught. For Bhatti, “as in the case of Benedict XVI’s lectio magistralis in Regensburg, and the blasphemous Muhammad caricatures, all of our efforts were forgotten. Crosses and other Christian symbols have been burnt and some Muslim clerics have even called on the faithful to launch a jihad against the infidels.”

Minorities “have no political weight. The government makes decisions about us without consulting us. We play no role,” said Per Nadeem Anthony, a member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

“Pakistani Christian political leaders in both ruling and opposition parties are partly to blame,” Mr Anthony noted. “I have never heard or read any protest from them against the laws that discriminate against the minorities. I don’t understand what they are doing in the legislative bodies of Pakistan”.

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See also
Lahore: activists call for repeal of Hudood Ordinances
More than 1,000 women in jail to be released on bail shortly
Revolution at the Council of Islamic Ideology: raped women to be treated as victims, not offenders
Pakistan: amendments to Hudood Ordinances approved
Islamabad: Ulemas meet to save Islamic laws


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