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Thursday, 9 August 2012

Pakistan's public pattern of persecution

The US Department of State recently released a report, saying that the Pakistani ' government demonstrated a trend towards deterioration in respect for and protection of the right to religious freedom,' and that 'some government practices limited freedom of religion, particularly for religious minorities'.  It also noted that the government rarely prosecuted those who perpetrated acts of violence against opponents of the blasphemy laws or victims of extremist religious aggression and was inadequate in safeguarding the rights of minorities and freedom of religion.  This has lead to a climate of impunity, something the BPCA has commented on several times before.  Some minority members are also abused and tortured by law enforcement officials in jail.  In short, societal intolerance and violence and against minorities and Muslims promoting tolerance is increasing, leading to human rights and activists and minority members increasingly fearful to speak out.

For more, read here

Societal intolerance as the root of horrific persecution in Pakistan is the subject of another article by a Pakistani in the West, primarily focusing on the Ahmadhi community.  The author says that the real blame, contrary to usual assumption, is not a weak state, but that 'much of Pakistani society refuses to extend religious freedom for others even as they themselves seek its benefits abroad' and goes on to contrast the treatment of Muslim minorities in the West with the situation in Pakistan.  It notes that surveys have shown that the vast majority - three quarters - of Pakistani's wish to see the death penalty enforced for those who leave Islam.  He cites the hypocrisy over the protests againts burqa bans, or decisions against building mosques at certain sites in the West, with the reaction to religious freedom issues 'back home'.

The article asks some very good questions - ones the BPCA would wholeheartedly agree with :

If one is so confident that his or her creed or sect is the only authentic one, then why fear competition from other sects or religions. Why impose artificial barriers to the free exercise of religion such as the blasphemy law in the hope of monopolising the market for religion.

It ends by stating something that should be obvious :

'... the focal point of change should not be the Pakistani state. Tweaking laws and pressuring the government will only take you so far until mass appeal, whether through religion, law, morality or reason, can be made to arrest these prevalent social norms that power such hypocritical behavior.'

The BPCA would only note that for that to happen, the most powerful tool Christians have to bring that about is not lobbying or raising awareness, but persistent, faith-filled prayer.

To read more, the article is

For a couple of examples of the persecution against Ahmadi's to illustrate what goes on, read here (Police demolish Ahmahdi minarets) and here (Ahmahdi assistant director of Pakistan's state bank gunned down).

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