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Sister of Mercy for Pakistan Muslims

ICC Note

“When extremists attack Christians, I always consider myself a second-class citizen and practically all Christians feel the same,”

By Saad Khan

08/28/2009 Pakistan (AFP)-Conquering fear of Islamist bombs and kidnapping, Rubecca Pervez Bhatti races through Pakistan ‘s city of Peshawar on a motorbike, heading for another shift at a Christian mission hospital.

She is a 55-year-old Protestant mother of four. Yet she never goes anywhere without wearing the loose, baggy outfit of shalwar kamiz and covering her hair in the conservative Muslim tradition.

“I am really worried about the situation in Pakistan and everyday I pray to God to bring mercy on our country,” she said.

Most of the some 200,000 Christians in North West Frontier Province , as elsewhere in Pakistan where they make up three percent of the population, are poorly educated. Even if they work, they are locked in a cycle of poverty.

Most are servants for wealthy Muslims, doing the gardening, cleaning out the toilets and other menial jobs.

Rubecca is unusual. She broke the mould.

But her faith is unfathomable to her Muslim patients, who ask her constantly why she does not convert and embrace Islam. She is used to it and has learnt just to smile quietly.

“It’s ok if my patients ask me every day ‘why don’t you convert as a Muslim’ but the peak was when my son was threatened to convert,” she said.

“People stopped him, asked various questions and then threw a stone at him when he ran off home. Christians are oppressed in this country,” she said.

What they feel instead is victimised and discriminated against in a Muslim state with controversial blasphemy laws.

“When extremists attack Christians, I always consider myself a second-class citizen and practically all Christians feel the same,” she said.

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