Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Church in Pakistan

Let us pray for the brethren.
Six people – including two children – were burned alive in anti-Christian attacks on 1st August 2009. That same day, an elderly man – the children’s grandfather – was shot dead. The killings happened as thousands of people rampaged through the Christian quarter of Gojra in the Punjab Province. It had been reported that Christians had cut up pages of the Qur’an to make wedding confetti. The mob, carrying sticks, clubs and firearms, attacked property including more than 150 homes and two churches.

This attack – described in detail on pp103-04 – is one of many inextricably linked to the country’s blasphemy laws (paragraphs B and C of Section 295 of Pakistan’s Penal Code). Offences against the Qur’an receive a sentence of life imprisonment and insults against the Prophet Mohammed can be punished by death. According to the Catholic Church’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), between 1986 and 2010 at least 993 people were charged with either desecrating the Qur’an or slandering Mohammed. Most of the charges have been brought against Muslims: 479 of the accused were Muslims (many from the Shia group) and 340 were Ahmadis, an Islamic religious movement regarded by many orthodox Muslims as heretical. 120 of those accused were Christians.

Reports show that the blasphemy laws are often invoked by people with a personal vendetta against a particular group or individual. Since 2001 at least 50 Christians have been killed by those using the blasphemy laws as a pretext. Accusations against alleged blasphemers are often false or motivated by petty interests, encouraging mobs to mete out rough justice without reference to the law. (Read more.)
HERE is an interview with a Pakinstani bishop, via Zenit.

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