Christians and other religious minorities face discrimination and oppression in their every-day lives.

Christians and other religious minorities face discrimination and oppression in their every-day lives.

April 2015 saw the latest outrage against the Christian community when a 13 year-old boy revealed in conversation with two men that he was Christian. They responded by dousing him in fuel and setting him alight. He died of horrific burns.

Instances like this go largely unreported and are not pursued through the justice system.

Sometimes they face violence and persecution as the country’s Blasphemy Laws are used against them.

Under the Blasphemy Laws desecrating the Qur’an or insulting the Prophet Mohammed are punishable by life imprisonment or even death.

An accusation of blasphemy is enough for an enraged mob to take justice into their hands.

Since 2001 at least 50 Christians have been killed by mob violence after the blasphemy laws were invoked as a pretext.

Only last November Shahzad Masih and his wife Shama were thrown on top of a brick kiln and their bodies burnt after they were accused of blasphemy. Accounts vary as to whether they were already dead at the time.

The couple were dragged from their rural home in Punjab province, south of Lahore, and beaten before being killed. Their children, four-year-old Sonia and her 18-month-old sister Ponam, were reportedly forced to watch.

Despite repeated calls to repeal or reform the Blasphemy Laws, no political party or government has dared amend them. Some who have spoken out against the laws have been assassinated.

These include the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer – a Muslim – and the federal Minorities’ Minister, Shahbaz Bhatti – a Catholic. Both men’s struggle for reform centred on the case of Asia Bibi.

In November 2010 she became the first woman in Pakistan to be sentenced to death for blasphemy (see below). 

While Asia Bibi still remains in prison with the death sentence hanging over her head, reports continue to come in of violations against religious minorities. 

Churches have been attacked, Christians and others have died in suspicious circumstances, and property owned by minority groups has been confiscated illegally.

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