Addis Ethiopia Weblog

Ethiopia's World / የኢትዮጵያ ዓለም

  • November 2018
    M T W T F S S
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    2627282930  
  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Recent Posts

Christians Dragged Out of Cars and Beaten, Haunted With Fear as Asia Bibi Case Tears Pakistan Apart

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on November 14, 2018

Christians have been dragged out of their cars and beaten, and said they are “haunted” with fear of Islamic radicals as the blasphemy case of Christian mother Asia Bibi tears Pakistan apart.

Romana Bashir, a Christian rights activist in Islamabad, said in an interview with CNN that blasphemy laws have been used to target followers of Christ in the Muslim country for years, but the fallout of Bibi’s acquittal has been truly severe.

Hardliners have blocked the streets, burned cars, and rioted through cities, angry at what they perceive to be the Pakistan Supreme Court’s giving in to pressure by deciding to free the Christian mother, instead of confirming her 2010 death sentence.

Peter Jacob, the executive director for the Center for Social Justice in Lahore, said that there have been cases where rioters have asked people in cars to tell them their religion. If they were found to be Christian, “they were taken out of their cars and beaten up.”

He warned that “the mental and psychological scars” that the Christian community are suffering will endure in the “current climate of fear.”

Large-scale Islamic radical attacks in Pakistan have decreased in the past year, though some church-going believers, such as those at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Rawalpindi, have admitted that they are constantly having to be careful.

One gatekeeper at St Joseph, who didn’t wish to share his name, said that he is “grateful for the presence of the military close to the church,” but that the sense of fear has “begun to haunt him” since Bibi’s acquittal.

Christians face discrimination in Pakistan in a variety of different ways, such as being offered only low-skilled jobs and kept at the bottom of society.

The blasphemy laws, which, such as in Bibi’s case, can put believers on death row even if they claim to be innocent, create a whole new dimension of terror, Bashir explained. She said that one of the biggest problems is that when non-Muslims are accused of blasphemy, “the entire community is branded and labeled with the crime.”

“When you are accused you cannot live in the same place, your family is under threat, your entire locality is under threat, you must run, you must leave everything you love behind. The impact is very severe,” she explained.

Bashir, who in 2012 was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to serve as adviser for the Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims, said that progress in terms of trust between Muslim leaders and Christians is being broken apart due to the blasphemy controversy.

“People on both sides are now afraid to come forth, there is no middle ground for discussion, there is no air for reconciliation, it’s like the bridges of harmony have been burnt in the aftermath of acquittal,” she said.

Bibi’s fate meanwhile remains uncertain, with the Christian mother of five not yet allowed to leave Pakistan, due to the pressure hardliners are putting on the government.

Source

UK ‘Won’t Offer Asylum To Asia Bibi Amid Security Concerns’

The British Pakistani Christian Association said UK government is concerned about “unrest among certain sections of the community.”

A Pakistani Christian woman’s appeal to Britain for asylum has been denied because her arrival in the country may stir civil unrest, HuffPost has been told.

Asia Bibi, a Christian farm labourer, was released from prison in Pakistan on Wednesday after being acquitted of blasphemy. She had spent eight years on death row after an argument with a group of Muslim women in June 2009.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan overturned Bibi’s 2010 conviction for “insulting the prophet Mohammed” last week, saying the case against her was based on flimsy evidence.

But her acquittal sparked violent protests led by Islamic religious hardliners, and the government has now agreed to try to stop her leaving the country.

On Saturday her lawyer, Saif Mulook, fled Pakistan, saying he feared for his life. Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, has also released a video message saying he too fears for his family’s safety.

I am requesting the Prime Minister of the UK help us and as far as possible grant us freedom,” he said.

But campaigners working to secure Bibi’s move abroad said the UK government had not offered her asylum, citing security concerns.

Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said two countries had made firm offers of asylum, but Britain was not one of them.

I’ve been lead to believe that the UK government had concerns that her moving to the UK would cause security concerns and unrest among certain sections of the community and would also be a security threat to British embassies abroad which might be targeted by Islamist terrorists.

Asia and her family have now decided to take up one of the offers for asylum from a western country.”

The Home Office said it could not comment on individual cases.

Chowdhry, who once lived just streets away from recently released hate preacher Anjem Choudary, pointed to a number of incidents of Pakistani Christians being violently assaulted.

Tajamal Amar, 46, fled to the UK from Pakistan 10 years ago after being targeted in a drive-by shooting by Islamists who wanted to convert him. He was working as a delivery driver in Derby in October 2017 when he was attacked by “young local Muslim men”.

Amar told HuffPost that it was the third time in 12 months he had been targeted in the UK because of his Christian faith.

He said: “I came to the UK to get away from being attacked and so I never expected that the same would happen to me here.

This country is still better than Pakistan where anti-minority feeling is in the mainstream.”

No-one has been arrested for the attack on Amar, which left him in a coma and with lesions to his brain, but he believes he knows his attackers.

Chowdhry did say “the majority of the British Muslim population are fine with us”, and said it was a small extremist fringe who were against Pakistani Christians.

According to Home Office statistics there were 8,336 religious hate crimes in the last two years – a 40% rise from the preceding two years.

The statistics showed that there were 264 recorded hate crimes against Christians last year, making up 5% of religious hate crimes – compared to 52% of such crimes being against Muslims.

In Europe the Dutch government has designated Pakistani Christians as a “high risk group”, opening the door for them to receive special considerations as refugees in the country.

But Khalid Mahmood, a Muslim MP from Birmingham, said relations between Pakistani Christians and Muslims in Britain are generally good.

He said: “Yes there may be a tiny minority on the extremist fringes of Islam who might resort to violence against Pakistani Christians but they will attack anyone who isn’t Muslim.

It would be wrong to suggest that the general Muslim population in the UK is prejudiced against or hates Pakistani Christians.”

He said despite tensions, many Pakistani people living in the UK have a “shared culture.”

Source

______

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: