Pakistan’s Christians Concerned by New Reports of Discrimination
By ICC’s Pakistan Correspondent
10/10/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Recent reports of religious discrimination have many Christians in Pakistan concerned about their future status in the country. In villages and small towns, separating eating utensils for Christians, refusing to provide barber services for Christians, and advertising sanitation jobs for Christians only have been very common practices. Human rights organizations have highlighted these issues for decades with little efforts from the government to change discriminatory attitudes.
Now, however, reports of anti-Christian discrimination in new sectors of life in Pakistan have many concerned.
Last month, a biased advertisement was displayed on the main wall of the Machiyara Residency Building in Karachi. That advertisement stated, “Selling or renting out any apartment in this building to the non-Muslims is prohibited.” Reports of this biased ad alarmed local minority communities.
“The emerging pattern of religious intolerance and discrimination in a metropolitan city like Karachi is unbearable and condemnable,” Shoukat Stephen, a local Christian community leader, told International Christian Concern (ICC). “If it would have happened in a less urban area, it would have had less of an impact due to the low literacy rate. However, here, authorities have failed to curb discriminatory practices and behaviors. There should be zero tolerance [for] such practices.”
“We will never allow extremist elements to prevail in the city and, therefore, we will exercise our legal rights against this act of hatred,” Saleem Michael, a local Christian lawyer, told ICC. “It is sad to note that such an incident has happened in the wake of the Prime Ministers speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations. He stated such lofty claims regarding the treatment of religious minorities in Pakistan.”
In another incident of anti-Christian discrimination, a local newspaper reported that two hospitals in Islamabad had refused to accept and store the body of a Christian woman in the last week of September. According to that report, PIMS Hospital and Poly-Clinic Hospital in Islamabad, refused to accept the body of a Christian woman to their mortuaries for hours.
The Christian family had to argue with hospital administrators for hours to have the body stored. However, in the end, hospital staff refused to wash the body of the Christian woman.
“We are frightened by the reports emerging in recent weeks against the Christian community,” Malvin Mall, a Christian activist, told ICC. “If such discriminatory activities are happening in the country’s capital, then one could expect such stuff in other parts of the country.”
“The authorities must look into the root causes,” Mall continued. “Reports of discrimination and hatred do not give a good name to the county and [are] harmful to the country’s unity and harmony.”
“Social harmony and religious tolerance must be taught and promoted in the educational institutions,” Mall concluded. “Only with this education will harmony and tolerance be reflected in the society.”