100,000 Christians Flee Persecution in Pakistan

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by blueblood, Aug 27, 2015.

  1. blueblood

    blueblood Senior Member Senior Member

    Jan 28, 2011
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    A Christian man is beaten by police in Pakistan. (Photo: © Reuters)

    Pakistani Christians are fleeing their home country because of violence perpetrated against them both by the state and by Muslim citizens.

    More than 100,000 Christians fled in recent years to U.N. refugee camps in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and the Philippines.

    Speaking to New Lens Pakistan, Lahore Bishop Alexander Johan Malik described all-too-common situations Christians face today in Pakistan: They are often accused of blasphemy, jailed and/or attacked; their homes and churches are set on fire; their girls are kidnapped, forcibly converted and married to Muslims.

    Turning to the state to help is a dead end. The state is ususally complicit in the violence and discrimination. Thus, the only alternative has been to flee.

    Christians who have the means to travel – which is not very expensive -- have turned to other Asian countries to take them in.

    "People get entry visas at the airports of Sri Lanka and Philippines. To acquire Thai and Malaysian visas isn't difficult,” Malik explained.

    Haroon Sulman, a lawyer in Lahore who helps Christians sell their property, says, "Almost 100 families from cities like Gojra, Lahore and Kasur have used my services. They seemed to be in a hurry to leave and did not show reservations, even if they got a low price for their properties.”

    Kashif Nawab, former U.N. observer in Pakistan for minorities, agrees. "There are more than six million Christians in Pakistan. Most of them have been extremely vulnerable to allegations of blasphemy. Now, people of this community are seeking sanctuary in U.N. refugee camps after selling their possessions for whatever they can get to leave as soon as possible," Nawab said.

    Christiansity is the third-largest religion in Pakistan, after Islam and Hinduism. In the 1980s, under the rule of military dictator General Zia Ul-Haq, Pakistan changed its penal code to make blasphemy a crime punishable by the death penalty.

    Since then, violence against minorities has risen significantly.


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