DISCRIMINATION AND PERSECUTION THROUGH SHARIA
As reports begin to surface in the media about Pakistan’s Islamic state, there are facts that are under reported or ignored. While the western leaders and media turn their heads, Christians are facing increasing attacks and a systematic cleansing of their neighborhoods is taking place. The Sharia courts are stepping up the prosecution of Christians. Christians who dare to speak out against the discriminatory and human rights violating Islamic laws such as the Blasphemy law, they find themselves as targets. In most cases, it is proven that the courts are using this to cleanse the Christian population, and set examples. As we have seen in the last 3 cases that have made it to the news.
First let’s take a look at the history of the Christian population in Pakistan. From 1947 to the 1970’s—Pakistan was largely secular. In 1971 East Pakistan became independent. This severed a large portion of Christians and Hindu’s from Pakistan. It became increasingly Islamic with smaller religious minorities and with the ensuing governments came stringent Islamic laws.
The Blasphemy laws further isolated Christians, and began spreading fear. ”Coerced conversions to Islam from Christianity are a major source of concern for Pakistani Christians, and the minority faces threats, harassment and intimidation tactics from extremists.”
Christian parents in Pakistan realize the extreme danger of the blasphemy law, which the penalty is often death. Christian children are taught from a very young age to not speak against Islam.
The Constitution of Pakistan identifies Islam as it’s state religion, and enforces a strict form of Sharia law, which includes the death penalty for Blasphemy. Merely speaking out about a belief other than Islam could bring a blasphemy charge. Brave people have taken a stand to try to change this, many have failed such as Benazir Bhutto.
“After her father’s execution in 1979 during the rule of the military dictator Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, Bhutto became the titular head of her father’s party, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and endured frequent house arrest from 1979 to 1984. In exile from 1984 to 1986, she returned to Pakistan after the lifting of martial law and soon became the foremost figure in the political opposition to Zia. President Zia died in August 1988 in a mysterious plane crash, leaving a power vacuum at the centre of Pakistani politics. In the ensuing elections, Bhutto’s PPP won the single largest bloc of seats in the National Assembly. She became prime minister on Dec.1,1988 heading a coalition government.”
She took a hard line against government corruption. She was the first woman president of a Muslim Nation ever. But in the 90′s her government was dismissed on charges of corruption, but in 1993 she won a coalition government. But again was dismissed in 1996 under new charges. She was exiled in London until Musharaf granted amnesty.
“In October 2007 Bhutto returned to Karachi from Dubai after eight years of self-imposed exile. Celebrations marking her return were marred by a suicide attack on her motorcade, in which numerous supporters were killed. Bhutto was assassinated in December in a similar attack while campaigning for upcoming parliamentary elections.” She was also known as the ‘Daughter of Pakistan.’ (More)
Also Shabaz Bhatti who was a Pakistani politician and elected member of the National Assembly. He was the first Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs from November 2008 until his assassination on March 2, 2011 in Islamabad. Bhatti, a Roman Catholic was an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and the only Christian in the Cabinet. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for his killing and called him a blasphemer of Muhammad.
Mussharaf himself was exiled to London also, he returned on March 24, 2013. “Musharraf was charged on 31 March 2014 with high treason for implementing emergency rule and suspending the constitution in 2007.” He along with Prime Minister Aziz were implicated in Bhutto’s assassination. And just 4 days ago it was reported that he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when a bomb went off on the route he was taking. “The bomb was planted along the general’s route from the military hospital in Rawalpindi where he has been staying to his home in the capital Islamabad, a Pakistani police official has said.” (More)
Salman Taseer who served as Governor of Punjab from 2008 until his assassination in early 2011, was helping Asia Bibi, a Christian woman falsely accused of blasphemy. He was trying to help obtain her release from prison. He was killed by his own guard, Mumtaz Qadri, who disagreed with Taseer’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Afterwards, Muslims who considered him a hero began to call Qadari, ‘GHAZI’.
“Ghazi” is a title of honor for a Muslim who slaughters a non-Muslim for the cause of Islam. The assassin has been showered with rose petals, his home has became a shrine to the faithful, and thousands of supporters have marched in the streets, praising him as a heroic defender of Islam.
The Constitution of Pakistan is misleading and contradictory in itself. The Preamble begins this way:
Whereas sovereignty over the entire Universe belongs to Almighty Allah alone, and the authority to be exercised by the people of Pakistan within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust;
And whereas it is the will of the people of Pakistan to establish an order :-
Wherein the State shall exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people;
Wherein the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated by Islam, shall be fully observed;
Wherein the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah;
It goes on to say that only a Muslim may hold the office of President. It also say’s that Freedom of Religion is guaranteed in Pakistan, but subject to reasonable restrictions. And of course Sharia Law.
Earlier this year a group in the UK wrote a letter to Pakistani President Mamnoon asking him to intervene on behalf of a man who had a diagnoses of paranoid schizophrenia.
He was accused of stating that he was a prophet. Hard to believe isn’t it? How many in the west would be arrested under those rules? One of Britains Politicians, Sadiq Kahn who is himself a practicing Muslim say’s it’s “intolerable” that the Pakistani authorities were using Islam to justify the treatment of Mohammad Asghar. President Mamnoon has not voiced interest in easing this barbaric law. So why does blatant laws against basic Human Rights stand? And yet when aid is handed out, it’s given without stipulations that Human Rights will not be violated. Since 2002 Pakistan has received a total of almost 12 Billion Dollars in military funds/aid, and a total of over 6 Billion dollars in economic aid.
Of the $179.5 million received by Pakistan in 2010, $75 million of the US aid funds were transferred to bolster the Benazir Income Support Program, a social development program run by the Pakistani government. Another $45 million was given to the Higher Education Commission to support “centers of excellence” at Pakistani universities; $19.5 million went to support Pakistan’s Fulbright Scholarship program; $23.3 million went to flood relief. (More)
It’s hard to get the exact numbers of Christians in Pakistan, as the government likes to say they are very low at 1%-3%. This is to ensure that Christians have very few seats in Parliament, or a voice in the government. Others claim the number is much higher at 13% of the population and growing, despite the extreme persecution of Christians. We can’t be certain of the numbers, but they are growing, and the danger they face is growing just as fast. The Blasphemy laws remain in place, 3 cases that we know of have surfaced in the media.
One couple arrested, charged and sentenced to death for blasphemy. It is claimed they are innocent. Charged with text messages that insulted the prophet of Islam. Can you imagine what that would be like? Imagine the millions of text’s in the US alone, can you imagine being sentenced to death for a text message?
Let that soak in a little. The SIM card from their phone was not the SIM card used to send the text message, but still they are sentenced to death.
There is a Christian woman and mother of 5, Asia Bibi who was arrested, charged and sentenced to death. Her crime? Being a Christian and thirsty.
That’s right, she drank water from a well designated as a muslim well, so she was arrested for Blasphemy. Asia claims she was innocent of blasphemy and the Muslim woman falsely accused her. There is a man from Joseph Colony in Lahore who was arrested and charged, then sentenced to death because he had a disagreement with a friend over the prophet. And it sparked a riot where churches, and businesses were torched and many were killed. An entire village was destroyed by a large Muslim mob riled up by an Imam, not terrorist but locals.
While struggling to actually understand what is happening, it’s important to remember those affected. The magnitude that this affects their lives is untold. Imagine explaining to your children why you are imprisoned and will die because you have been accused of speaking against of a prophet you do not follow? This is unimaginable.
We have recently spoken to 2 who have faced death threats, beatings, have lost their job’s and left their families, all because they dared to speak out against the Blasphemy law and protested for change.
Imagine if after a protest in this country, you were visited by men who beat you, robbed you. And what if they threatened you with death if you did not stop & convert to their religion. Imagine if the police refused to help you? Imagine you lost your job because you stood out to change a law that was so wrong.
Christians in Pakistan start life there with a stigma. It begins at a very early age. Here’s what one Pakistani Christian told VOP:
Our story starts when we are born into a Christian family. Our parents carefully choose our name in a way which will not become a problem for us in the future. Names such as JOHN, JAMES, THOMAS etc. are names which Muslims easily recognize as Christian or (CHURAA which means SANITARY WORKER). Due to the unpleasant nature of the job, it is considered a lowly position by Muslims and normally done by minorities, mainly Christians.With a Christian name, the potential for persecution is much greater.
When we go to school, our text books teach us that Hindus, Christians, and Jews can not be your brother. There are more than 60 syllabus in Pakistani text books which spread hate in Muslims hearts for a non-Muslim. We are always an easy target for fundamental Muslims.
We have heard the same from a brother recently escaping persecution in Pakistan. Over and over we hear that even if they are fortunate enough to escape, some of the countries they have escaped to, are less than willing to help and also discriminate against them. VOP has advocated in some of these cases, filing complaints with the UNHRC Geneva.
The UNHRC has programs in place, but these programs come up short. They want to work and want to live normal lives. They want to go to church without having to fear for their lives or their families lives. They want to walk down the street without looking over their shoulder. They want to see their children grow up, and lead happy lives in freedom.
While in a discussion with another Pakistani Christian who is an activist for religious freedom, we spoke of the rise of extremism and discrimination against the Christians in Pakistan. He told us,
“Although Pakistani Christians are not the responsibility of America, there are ties to your government’s actions to the persecution we face.”
“After 9/11, religious persecution peaked. The Muslim hatred and discrimination against Pakistani Christians also grew with the western invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. In Pakistan, Christianity is associated with the west (America).”
He explained that,
Muslims tell us, “You are Christians like the Americans who are also Christian. They are killing us because we are Muslim. Now we will also will kill you.”
I have shared my thoughts of the situation with many diplomats. I have discussed how the US gives visas to Muslims, they go to USA and then convert American Christians to Islam. They have and will keep trying to impose Sharia laws on your country.
Most Muslims have no intention to assimilate or be inculcated into any other society. They desire the best in liberties and freedoms that a country will offer to their advantage, even if they do not believe in them. They will also use them against the nationals of the host country. Muslims have every intention of assimilating the U.S. to their own customs, traditions and way of life, into their special concept of society which is Sharia Law. In other words, ruled by Islam.
Look at the quagmire France and the UK are finding themselves in. And they are not the only ones. There are hundreds of court cases in other countries, to change “laws” more suitable for Muslims. This is already being seen in the USA. In the name of tolerance, governments have and will continue to turn a blind eye towards these “ends”, until it will be too late. Islam is sending their members to spread their faith for a takeover of all nations. It is even shared in their mosques on Fridays by their Imams.
They [the growing number of extremists] are planning ways on how to hit the USA, including bombings. They have a double face policy in their minds and hearts. US AID programs give millions of dollars to Pakistani Muslims. If you talk about Americans, they call them derogatory names and kafir, which means unbeliever and an enemy of Islam. When Christians ask the American Embassy for help from or Consulate, they are ill-treated. But when Muslims go and ask for their help—they are granted asylum. And their wait times are much shorter in gaining asylum status than Christians. There are also no visa fees for Afghanistan refugees.
It is my personal experience that when Christians from Pakistan are moved to a western country, they abide by the laws and never try to hurt or destroy the establishment or state. However, Muslims want to imposed there laws on others, even asking for separate states.
Please, Christians of Pakistan are decent human beings. I am a photographer/cameraman. I can work and support my family on my own. If a person like myself were resettled in the USA, I would never be a burden on the country or society. I want to make my own way, not supported by any government. I would also be very grateful for the opportunity to live with the freedom of religion and speech.
By C.Refsland, VOP Advocate/News Analyst & L. Kanalos, VOP Founder/Advocate