“Religious fanaticism is ruining Pakistan”
A month after the attack on a Christian colony in Faisalabad, Imran, a Pakistani Christian, analyses the situation on the ground. “Churches fear a repetition”, he says.
Protestante Digital · ISLAMABAD · 15 SEPTEMBER 2023 · 12:15 CET
Hardly a month after the latest outbreak of violence against Christians in Pakistan, with the attack by a Muslim mob on the Christian colony in Faisalabad on 16 August, the churches in the country still “fear a repetition of such attacks”.
This is how Imran, a Pakistani Christian who has recently served on the border with Afghanistan after over a million people crossed it fleeing the Taliban, explains the current situation in the country to Spanish news website Protestante Digital.
It is impossible to give further details of his identity without compromising his own safety. “Imran is fine”, he replies when asked how to quote him.
The Pakistani Christian community insists that part of the solution lies in international pressure from Christian organisations and individuals, especially in Europe and North America, with events such as the rally organised by the Italian Evangelical Alliance and Pakistani Christians in Italy in front of the Pakistani embassy in Rome.
Question. We have recently seen attacks on Christians, imprisonment without trial and other harassment in Pakistan. How do you describe the current situation of persecution against the church in the country?
Answer. Persecution against the churches in Pakistan is nothing new. It is becoming a regular practice. Since I was born, I have witnessed such incidents.
It is not just mob attacks, imprisonment and harassment. Being a Christian in this land, I have seen discrimination in all walks of life.
The state says we are equal citizens, but the majority group rejects us. The problem started right after independence, when the country was declared an Islamic state. The influence of radical Islamic ideology still prevails.
“It is not just mob attacks, imprisonment. Being a Christian in this land, I have seen discrimination in all walks of life”
After Jaranawal, a place near the city of Faisalabad, where hundreds of Christian houses and churches were burned on 16 August, the churches in Pakistan fear a repetition of such attacks.
Christians evacuated their homes to the Christian colony of Buraf Khana in Rawalpindi because someone burnt pages of the Holy Quran. A few days ago, in Khanawal, a seven-year-old boy was beaten by his classmates and then imprisoned because they falsely blamed him for burning the holy words.
Pakistani Christians strongly condemn mob attacks, imprisonment and all kinds of discrimination.
The country was not made in the name of Islam but rather for the Muslims of the subcontinent (Indo-Pak) along with other minorities in the region to have religious and political freedom.
Q. Why is all this turmoil happening now and how are Christians legally protected in Pakistan?
A. All citizens of Pakistan can avail themselves of the legal protection of the state without discrimination of colour or creed, but the problem is that the authorities do not respect the rule of law.
Pakistan's founder, Mr. Jinnah, clearly protected the rights of minorities, but later, the country developed the strong influence of Islamic doctrine during the Soviet Union war.
Today, religious fanaticism is ruining the country.
Q. How do the blasphemy laws affect Pakistan?
A. According to the internal situation of the country, a large number of people are not in favour of the blasphemy law legislation. The law has been used as a tool to take revenge on minorities.
If the legislation is carried out in the right way, it will certainly have a very positive effect on society, especially on minorities.
Q. Pakistan took in many people from Afghanistan when the Taliban took power. How important is it that Pakistan does not follow the trend in its region? What can Christians in this area expect?
A. The history of Christianity in the Indo-Pakistani subcontinent is two thousand years old, but Islam spread faster and became the country's majority religion after Hinduism.
“The church in Pakistan needs moral support from Europe against discrimination, through the press, social media”
In this part of the world, Christians are a minority and suffer as much as any other religion in the rest of the world. Muslims in Europe and North America fear mistreatment for their religion, but the treatment they receive from other religions in the Muslim-majority world is worse than what they experience in the West.
The only solution for Christians is to pray more and rely on God for everything, including their safety.
Q. What are the basic needs of the churches in Pakistan and how can European Christians help?
A. I think the church in Pakistan needs moral support from Europe against discrimination, and that can be done, above all, through the press, social media and also by speaking out and denouncing the situation.
Q. How can we pray for Christians in Pakistan?
A. Please pray for Christians in India and Pakistan, that they will have more grace in suffering and experience a great spiritual revival. We appreciate all those who pray and think of us.
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