The threat to Christian minorities living in Pakistan continues to escalate, forcing many to find safe haven elsewhere. Recently, the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) ordered the government of the nation to enact the death penalty for blasphemy charges. So far, the Pakistani government has resisted.
While this is a reiteration of a ruling made back in 1990 by the FSC, local fervor to see this ruling enacted has grown in recent years. Lubna Thomas Benjamin recalls her first-hand experience with this growing persecution:
“I still remember the tears and lamentation of the Christians living in the neighborhood of Rimsha, who were forced by the Muslims to leave that area. To accomplish their plan to expel the Christians, they used [14-year-old] Rimsha [Masih], who was reported to have a lower mental age, and couldn't have done of what she was accused of - that is, to burn the pages of the Holy Koran. Later on, the investigations showed that Imam Khalid Chishti, the religious cleric of the area's mosque put those burnt pages in Rimsha's bag.
“I also visited that area few times to make a report and saw the hatred in the local residents against the Christians. The message of burning the Christians' home was also delivered by the same cleric in his sermons. However, the acquittal of Rimsha is testament to the fact that how this law is abused by the majority to endanger and put at stake the lives of the minorities.”
According to the Voice of the Martyrs website, Pakistani Christians face a particularly hard road in one of the “most corrupt countries in the world”:
“Churches in Pakistan are frequently vandalized, and Christians are beaten, raped, abducted and murdered with impunity. Christians also face discrimination in employment and education, keeping them entrenched in the lower classes.”