Monday, March 11, 2013

Christians in Pakistan can't 'turn thy cheek'

If Jesus resurrected in Pakistan today, he might have to review his message of ‘Turn thy cheek’. Instead I guess he might ask the Christians there to run for safety. In fact, the religious minority in Pakistan is wise enough to do that without any divine advice. And they did it when a large mob attacked their neighborhood in the city of Lahore over the weekend, ransacked their homes and businesses, and burnt them down.
All of this was triggered after a Muslim shop owner accused a Christian man, who was running a small business in front of his shop, of committing blasphemy. Police did register a case against the Christian man under the country’s controversial blasphemy law that punishes the responsible with death penalty, but that didn’t satisfy the angry crowd and they decided to punish the entire Christian town with nearly 200 families.
It’s interesting to know that when the Christian families ran for safety, they were sheltered by Muslims in a nearby neighborhood. Those Muslims are part of a majority of Pakistanis who sympathise with minorities, but are helpless to stand up against their crazy cousins for their protection.
And they have reasons to do that. When it comes to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, or other sensitive religious subjects, even the government seems helpless. In January 2011, the governor of the Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was murdered by his own bodyguard who thought the governor had committed blasphemy. Two months later that year, a federal minister, a Christian, was gunned down in Islamabad because of his opposition to the controversial law. More recently, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Sherry Rehman, faces a blasphemy charge and was forced to withdraw the legislation she introduced to amend the blasphemy law. And these are just a few high-profile examples. The mercury of religious intolerance in Pakistan is rising by the day, with no immediate steps to control it. In fact, Pakistan’s most powerful political parties are busy shaking hands with hardline Islamists, who often promote hatred against minorities, for upcoming national elections.

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