Religious discrimination in Pakistan
Religious discrimination in Pakistan is a serious issue. Christians, Hindus and Ahmadi Muslims among other many other religious groups in Pakistan are routinely discriminated against. They are at times refused jobs, loans, housing and other similar things simply because of their choice of religious faith. Christian Churches and Ahmadi mosques and their worshippers are often attacked.
In 1999 the United Nations Human Rights Council approved the first resolution against defamation of religions. However these resolutions have been severely criticized by the United States, various European nations and freedom of religion groups as these resolutions contained language which could be used to discriminate against minority religions, and in March 2010 the UN refused to enact the most recent resolution.
In 2011 religious intolerance was reported to be at its height, hundreds of minorities, women, journalists and liberals were being killed by Islamist fundamentalist extremists, while the Government remained mostly a silent spectator, often only making statements which condemned the ruthless acts of violence by the extremists but taking no real concrete action against them.
Violence against minorities
The July 2010 Lahore bombings killed 50 people and wounded 200 others in two suicide bombings on the Sufi shrine, Data Durbar Complex in Lahore. The May 2010 Lahore attacks left 94 dead and more than 120 injured in nearly simultaneous attacks against two mosques of the minority Ahmadiyya Community Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, as well as their Punjab wing, claimed responsibility for the attacks and were also blamed by the Pakistani police.
On March 15, 2014, a crowd of Muslims burnt a Hindu temple and a dharmashala in Larkana, Sindh, Pakistan, after unverified allegations of a Hindu youth desecrating a copy of the Quran.
On 22 September 2013, a twin suicide bomb attack took place at All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, in which 127 people were killed and over 250 injured. On 15 March 2015, two blasts took place at Roman Catholic Church and Christ Church during Sunday service at Youhanabad town of Lahore. At least 15 people were killed and seventy were wounded in the attacks.
Attacks on minorities in the country have led to condemnation of policies that are discriminatory to religious minorities in Pakistan.
Following the 2010 Lahore massacre, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said "Members of this religious community have faced continuous threats, discrimination and violent attacks in Pakistan. There is a real risk that similar violence might happen again unless advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is adequately addressed. The Government must take every step to ensure the security of members of all religious minorities and their places of worship so as to prevent any recurrence of today’s dreadful incident." Ban's spokesperson expressed condemnation and extended his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government.
The United States ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson, issued an unusually strong statement saying Pakistan had witnessed an increase in "provocative statements that promote intolerance and are an incitement to extremist violence."
An editorial published in Dawn condemned the attacks, commenting that "Bigotry in this country has been decades in the making and is expressed in a variety of ways. Violence by individuals or groups against those who hold divergent views may be the most despicable manifestation of such prejudice but it is by no means the only one. Religious minorities in Pakistan have not only been shunted to the margins of society but also face outright persecution on a regular basis."
Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian woman who was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, receiving a sentence of death by hanging. In June 2009, Bibi was involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries after the other women grew angry with her for drinking the same water as them. She was subsequently accused of insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad, a charge she denies, and was arrested and imprisoned. In November 2010, a Sheikhupura judge sentenced her to death. If executed, Bibi would be the first woman in Pakistan to be lawfully killed for blasphemy.
In August 2012, Rimsha Masih, a Christian girl, reportedly 11 or 14 years old, and an illiterate with mental disabilities was accused of blasphemy for burning pages from a book containing Quranic verses. The allegation came from a Muslim cleric who himself has subsequently been accused by the police of framing the girl. The girl, and later the cleric, were both arrested and released on bail.
In 2014 Junaid Jamshed was accused under the blasphemy law. According to The Economist, Jamshed "is unable to return to Pakistan after being accused of mocking one of the Prophet’s wives in a throwaway remark about the weakness of women."
Critics of the blasphemy laws have called for change.
It is estimated that about 97% of Pakistan's population are Muslim with the majority being Sunni and between 12 and 20 percent being Shi'a. Four percent of the population are Christian, Hindu and Sikh. Since the 1970s the Christian's have faced religious discrimination as Islamization become the official policy of the government. The Ahmadiyya have faced greater persecution since 1974 after being declared "non Muslims" over allegations that they do not recognize Muhammad as the last prophet.
In addition, there have been many cases of religious persecution in of Hindus in the nation. Among these, the most recent include 19-year-old Hindu girl Rinkle Kumari from Mirpur Mathelo in Ghotki district, Sindh province who was abducted a gang and "forced" to convert to Islam, before being head shaved.
In 2011 the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom(USCIRF) released a report on the public schools and Madrassas in Pakistan. The study concluded
- Public school textbooks used by all children often had a strong Islamic orientation, and Pakistan's religious minorities were referenced derogatorily or omitted altogether;
- Hindus were depicted in especially negative terms, and references to Christians were often inaccurate and offensive;
- Public school and madrassa teachers had limited awareness or understanding of religious minorities and their beliefs, and were divided on whether religious minorities were citizens;
- Teachers often expressed very negative views about Ahmadis, Christians, and Jews, and successfully transmitted these biases to their students;
- Interviewees' expressions of tolerance often were intermixed with neutral and intolerant comments, leaving some room for improvement.
- Persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan
- Asia Bibi blasphemy case
- February 2012 Kohistan Shia Massacre
- Freedom of religion in Pakistan
- Lahore church bombings
- Religious violence in India
- Sectarian violence in Pakistan
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