Religious Freedom Conditions in Pakistan Continue to Worsen
04/26/2021 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released their 2021 report last Wednesday making their official recommendations to the Department of State on which countries should be labeled as Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) and which should be added to the Special Watch List. Pakistan was once again recommended for CPC status, with the report sighting worsening religious freedom conditions for Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadis, and other religious minorities.
“Religious freedom conditions in Pakistan continued to worsen. The government systematically enforced blasphemy and anti-Ahmadiyya laws and failed to protect religious minorities from abuses by non-state actors. There was a sharp rise in targeted killings, blasphemy cases, forced conversions, and hate speech targeting religious minorities,” the 2021 Annual Report stated.
Perhaps the most notorious weapon of persecution in Pakistan is the country’s use of its blasphemy laws, which disproportionately targets Ahmadi and other minority communities in Pakistan. The blasphemy laws continue to empower and embolden radical adherents of Islam at all levels of society as they persecute non-Muslims and function as a de facto gag order for religious minorities. Blasphemy accusations can lead to sentences of life in prison and even death. False accusations of blasphemy run rampant throughout society. A mere accusation of blasphemy will mark the individual and their household for life—even if proven innocent.
Matias Perttula, Director of Advocacy at International Christian Concern, said, “USCIRF was right to once again recommend Pakistan as a CPC. The designation should serve as warning to the government of Pakistan and encourage them to move their society from oppressing religious freedom to guaranteeing it for all. The leadership in Pakistan may attempt to create an image of interfaith harmony, but the world knows better—Pakistan can no longer hide the reality.”
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