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Violence Against Christians in Pakistan Grows

ICC Note

The seemingly unchecked growth of religious extremism in Pakistan has led to heinous acts of violence being committed among the minority Christian population there. Of the 1,060 people charged under that nation’s predominantly Muslim blasphemy laws from 1986 to 2011, 46 have been killed either by angry mobs or by individuals. The Christian community has had their churches and homes attacked in recent years.

02/02/2011 Pakistan (Catholic Online)-Some link these extremist attacks to the aftermath of the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S, after which U.S. forces led a war against neighboring Afghanistan. In October of that year, Islamic militants killed 15 Christians in a church.

In 2005, 3,000 militants staged a similar attack, destroying churches in Sangla Hill as reprisal for the blasphemy allegedly committed by a Pakistan Christian. In 2006, militants targeted churches and Christian-run schools in protest over the publication of a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

Eight Christians were burned alive 2009, in Gojra in Punjab in 2009 after a frenzied Muslim mob set ablaze 40 homes and a church while the police stood aside.

Christian rights activist Atif Paggan says there has been a shrinking of the Christian minority in the last 15 years or so. “There is a growing restlessness among the Christians and many have left the country and feel discriminated against,” he says.

One-third of Pakistan’s population was composed of religious minorities at the time of its independence in 1947. According to According to Peter Jacob, head of the National Commission for Peace and Justice, the white in the national flag represented that 30 percent which included Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Christians.

However, that minority has shrunk and now constitutes only 3.5 percent of Pakistan’s 175 million people. Christians comprise about 1.6 percent, with the largest concentration across Punjab province. “The country lost its religious diversity,” Jacob says.

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