News by email Donate


Top Stories

Most Read

Popular Videos

Pakistan flag.jpg header2.jpg
Pakistan flag.jpg
World News

Ban forced conversions and repeal blasphemy laws, UK charity tells Pakistan

by Tola Mbakwe

As Pakistan welcomed its new government following national elections this month, a UK religious freedom charity has called for the repeal of the country's notorious blasphemy laws and preventative measures against forced conversions.

Violence against the Christian minority has been an ongoing issue in Pakistan, leading to church burnings after accusations of blasphemy.

The country’s blasphemy laws are often invoked as a way of inciting violence against minorities and settling scores, leaving even acquitted individuals' lives in jeopardy.

According to the Lahore-based CSJ, 2,449 people from various faith backgrounds have been accused of committing blasphemy since 1987. Of these, at least 95 have been killed by vigilantes.

Paul Robinson, CEO of Release International, said the matter should be one of urgency for President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

"There is growing concern over violence against Christians in Pakistan, often by vigilante mobs on unfounded accusations that Christians have committed blasphemy,” he said.

Violence escalated last August when a Muslim mob attacked a Christian community in Jaranwala.

More than 20 churches and Christian homes were torched after false claims announced over mosque loudspeakers that torn pages of the Koran had been found in the Christian district.

Release International said many months later, Christians are still awaiting their promised compensation, and even though up to 800 people took part in the attacks, only 283 suspects have been arrested. Of those, more than 220 have been granted bail and 14 discharged.

The Implementation of Minority Rights Forum (IMRF) in Pakistan has appealed to the country's Supreme Court for justice. However, a number of organisations report that police often play a detrimental role in pursuing justice, sometimes intimidating and humiliating complainants and witnesses.

Growing concern is also being voiced over forced conversions. In Sailkot district, a Muslim cleric was recently arrested for abducting two Christian brothers at gunpoint and forcing them to convert to Islam.

"Release International calls on Pakistan's new government to take immediate action to prevent forced conversions," Robinson said.

"Our partners are working to support persecuted believers in Pakistan – including some who've been falsely accused of blasphemy – and the Christian victims of violence in Jaranwala," Robinson added.

A Monthly Gift Of $11 Makes A World Of Difference

In a world of fake news there’s never been a greater need for quality Christian journalism. Premier’s mission is to provide the Church with the most up to date and relevant news, told from a Christian perspective. But we can’t do it without you.

Unlike many websites we haven't put up a paywall — we want to keep our journalism free at the point of need and as open as we can. Premier’s news output takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. No one in the USA is sharing news like we are across radio, magazines and online so please help us to continue that today.

For a monthly gift of $11 or more we’d also be able to send you a free copy of the brand new Premier Bible, a wonderful Anglicised version of the NLT packed with exclusive bonus content, reading plan and resources to help you get the most out of scripture.

Your monthly support will make a world of difference. Thank you.

Support Us
Continue the conversation on our Facebook page

Related Articles

Sign up to our newsletter to stay informed with news from a Christian perspective.

News by email