Intense Persecution of Pakistani Christians Continued into the Second Half of 2018

By ICC’s Pakistan Correspondent

02/21/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Incidents of Christian persecution in Pakistan continued into the second half of 2018, painting a grim picture for the small minority community regarding their religious freedom rights. The most troubling aspect of this continued trend is the institutionalized discrimination and intolerance that is apparent throughout the country’s laws and practices.

While the constitution of Pakistan declares that all citizens are equal before the law, the reality tells a different story. Christians continue to beg for protection, dignity, safety, security, and equal rights as citizens of Pakistan.

Over the last six months, Pakistani Christian have endured incidents of social discrimination, land theft, sexual harassment, church attacks, hate-mongering, and discrimination in educational institutions. The incidents reported below only represent those independently verified by International Christian Concern (ICC).

On July 9, 2018, Waheed Masih’s family in Sheikhupura was attacked by a Muslim mob, which resulted in injuries and damage to their home. A report that a young Christian boy had allegedly abducted and converted a Muslim girl to Christianity was the motivation behind the attack on Waheed and his family.

On July 13, 2018, a group of armed Muslims attacked a church in Faisalabad during a worship service. The attackers stormed into the church, damaging everything inside. According to local Christians, the assailants wanted to set the church on fire. However, timely intervention by police saved the church.

In August 2018, many cases of severe persecution were reported. In August alone, four Christians were killed, including Amara Bibi in Sheikhupura on August 7, Mehwish Masih in Hyderabad on August 15, Vicky Masih in Lahore on August 16, and Yousaf Masih in Okara on August 17.

Three Christian women, who will remain anonymous for security reasons, were raped in August 2018. These women were from Silakot, Khanewal, and Wazirabad. Asma, a Christian teenager from Khanewal, was also raped by three Muslim men. The damage caused by the attack forced doctors to remove her uterus. Three other Christian women, who will also remain anonymous, were forcibly converted to Islam in Karachi, Sargodha, and Sahiwal.

Several Christians were severely beaten and tortured in August 2018. Beenish Paul, a Christian woman from Karachi, was thrown out of a building on August 17. She suffered severe spinal damage. Vickram John, a Christian from Karachi, lost an eye when his family was attacked in their home on August 18.

On August 1, 2018, Farhan Aziz was accused of blasphemy in Gujrawala. He fled his village and is now in hiding.

Additionally, a church in Kasur was violently attacked on August 2. The Christian men, women, and children inside the building were beaten by a mob for trying to protect the church.

On September 5, 2018, a young Christian man, Faraz Badar, was sprayed with acid in Gujranwala. He passed away in the hospital from the injuries on September 15.

On September 21, 2018, a group of Muslims beat Bashir Masih and his family in Gujar Khan and set their van and the roof of their house on fire because they did not like having Christians in their neighborhood.

On September 28, 2018, Yaqoob Bashir, a mentally disabled Christian man, was sentenced to life in prison by the Session Court of Mirpurkhas in Sindh for allegedly committing blasphemy.

On October 22, 2018, Sharjeel Masih, a Christian student in grade four was humiliated at Government Boys Primary School in Attock when the school’s headmaster reprimanded him for drinking water from the same water tab that the Muslim students used.

On October 31, 2018, the Supreme Court of Pakistan finally acquitted Asia Bibi after she was found innocent of blasphemy allegations leveled against her in June 2009. She was on death row for nearly a decade. Muslim radicals rallied against this decision and brought the whole country to a near standstill for three days.

On November 7, 2018, Ishrat Saba, a female Christian teacher, was sexually harassed by her Muslim headmaster at Government Elementary Middle School in Phool Nagar located in the Kasur District. She was then threatened by a group of Muslims when she made a complaint to the authorities.

On December 13, 2018, two Christian brothers, Qaisar Ayub and Amoon Ayub, were sentenced to death by the District Court in Jehlum. They were originally imprisoned in 2015 for allegedly committing blasphemy.

On December 30, 2018, a group of people attempted to steal land from a church property named “Gosha e Aman” (Peace Center) by building a boundary wall on their property in Lahore. The church managed to reclaim their land the next day.

Throughout the reporting period, local newspapers posted discriminatory content and advertisements. Advertisements for sanitary worker job vacancies emphasized that the jobs were for non-Muslims only, perpetuating a discriminatory narrative that claims that Christians must be relegated to menial, often dangerous, positions near servitude. Government departments also continued to recruit only non-Muslims as street sweepers according to policy.

As seen in the incidents above, Pakistani Christians are suffering at home, church, school, and the workplace. Even children are not immune from the reality of discrimination and physical violence. These are only some of the stories suffered by Christians throughout Pakistan. The government and authorities in Pakistan must take steps to revise the laws and social standards that permit the persecution of Christians.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

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