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11/25/2023 Pakistan (International Christian Concern)Christians living in Pakistan have, for decades, faced daily discrimination and persecution. 

Due to the country’s blasphemy laws and an anti-Christian worldview that has gripped the nation, the majority of Pakistani Christians live in extreme poverty and endure threats of incarceration, violence, and even death simply for believing in Jesus. In addition, certain Christian women and girls have become vulnerable to forced marriages with little legal protection.  

Christians, who make up less than 2% of a population of 229 million people, are looked down upon and treated as second-class citizens. In fact, the most grueling, laborious jobs in the Muslim-majority country are largely reserved for Christians. 

Known as the ‘Christian sweeper community,’ many Christians are relegated to sanitation work, sweeping piles of garbage off the streets, and performing hazardous sewer maintenance. According to a New York Times report, Christian sweepers in the city of Karachi must use their bare hands to remove blockages from sewers containing feces and medical waste. One man, Jamshed Eric, recounted the stark reality of the work in the report, explaining that “it is a difficult job.” 

“In the gutter, I am often surrounded by swarms of cockroaches,” Eric stated. 

The sweeper community is only one aspect of the stark discrimination endured by Pakistan’s Christians. Due to the devastating poverty they face, many Christians resort to borrowing money from corrupt loan brokers who, in turn, make it nearly impossible for the borrowers to pay off their loans. The Christians’ debt is then exploited as they are offered work as brick makers in brick kilns for extremely low wages in an effort to pay down their debt. The kilns offer little more than inhumane, unsanitary working conditions and staggering heat. 

Dire working conditions feed into a much larger culture of systemic discrimination against the country’s Christian minority. Blasphemy laws are also used to target Christians to punish them for their beliefs. 

Pakistan’s president from 1978 to 1988, Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, islamicized the nation’s blasphemy laws and made it a criminal offense, punishable by prison or death, to criticize the Prophet Muhammad. In 2023, the law was made stricter with an amendment introduced by lawmaker Abdul Akbar Chitrali. The amendment, which passed into law, allows for the courts to punish anyone who insults the Prophet Muhammad’s wives or relatives with a minimum 10-year prison sentence. 

Though there have been no official executions carried out by the Pakistani government for blasphemy charges, many who are accused languish in prison for years or are lynched and violently attacked by fellow Pakistani citizens who practice mob justice. 

Such was the case with Safoora Bibi, a school teacher in Pakistan who was murdered by two students and a teacher between the ages of 17 and 24 in a violent attack after one of the attacker’s relatives claimed to have dreamed that Bibi insulted the Prophet Muhammad. 

Additionally, many who are accused of blasphemy have not committed any such crime. False accusers are rampant and many use the law for myriad insidious purposes, such as satisfying personal vendettas or in situations where the accuser stands to gain something by sending their perceived enemy to jail. 

Pakistan’s long-standing acceptance of Christian persecution and discrimination must be stopped. The global community must put pressure on the Pakistani government to end these abuses and return to Pakistani Christians their God-given liberties. They have suffered for far too long. 

Please join International Christian Concern in praying for our precious brothers and sisters in Christ who endure daily mistreatment in Pakistan as a result of their brave stand for Jesus

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