A Pakistani Christian Ministry worker declares recent anti-Christian riots as a substantial evidence of heightening religious bias in Pakistan.
The incidents of Badami Bagh and Francis Colony are an affirmation of increased religious fanaticism.
A new-fangled dispute has started about Pakistan’s contentious blasphemy law subsequent to imprisonment of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman from Nankana Saheb in Punjab, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy, has been top billing across the globe.
In retrospect, 12 prisoners, including Aasia Bibi, have hitherto been sentenced to death by courts in Punjab on accusations of blasphemy. Consistent with authorized data, as many as 130 prisoners are in various jails of the bulkiest province of Pakistan under the blasphemy laws. Out of these 130, 64 have been adjudged, whereas the lingering 52 are facing court trials. Out of those detainees, 12 inmates, along with Aasia Bibi, have been destined to death, at the same time as the others have been decreed diverse punishments, together with life sentences plus fines.
At present eight Christian prisoners are on record – serving punishments on Blasphemy charges. The official statistics give an idea about the fact that out of the eight only three are on death row, two have been sentenced to life imprisonment, whilst the left behind three are in trial. The prominent cases out of these are of two Christian women – Aasia Bibi, wife of Ashiq Masih as well as Ruqia, wife of Munir Masih – while six are men.
As far as this point of time, the Lahore High Court (LHC) has discarded one appeal of a Christian man, Anwar Kanth, son of Veera Masih – who was sentenced to death by the court of the Additional and Sessions Judge Lahore on July 18, 2002. Notwithstanding, there has been a miraculous release and acquittal of Younus Masih and Rimsha Masih. The case of Rimsha Masih turned out to be a high profile case. The case of Rimsha, a 14 year old Christian girl grabbed attention of media internationally; incarcerating global out cry for justice to the innocent youth.
“The event did not come as a surprise to the residents of the area called Badami Bagh, in which there is a smaller colony called the Joseph Colony where Christians live,” the Christian Worker says – (her real name has been concealed for the sake of her protection.)
“To have a government that would be strong to root out extremism would be fantastic. That would be an answer to prayer, but the truth is our problem happened in the 70s and 80s when Islamization came and got a foothold in the country,” she explained. “The government was soft to it at the time and the seed was planted then and now we are just seeing the fruit of that.”
“We are seeing the face of that in the form of extremism. The events of Sept. 11th 2001 really did spiral and religious extremists did capitalize and we began to see the face of it in a whole new way in Pakistan,” she said.
“Anytime we have an incident like Badami Bagh , you have a number of Christians who will leave Pakistan, this is a trend that we see. Parents are afraid for the future of their children. It has become increasingly difficult to bring your children up. It’s extremely difficult to breathe as Christian in Pakistan let alone to live and bring up a family,” she grumbled.
“It reminded them that this is just part of the process of walking with the Lord. This is part of what Jesus had said – people will spit on you. People will persecute you for my namesake. They (Christians in the Joseph Colony) did testify that they were reminded of that,” she said.
“The area of Badami Bagh is in a very difficult part of the country. It is surrounded by very fanatical and anti-Christian elements so these are people who are used to persecution. That is just there lot in life,” she added.