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Pakistan fire attacks August.JPG
Pakistan fire attacks August.JPG
World News

Christians in Wales protest Pakistan violence as they fear for family

by Sophie Drew

Christians living in Wales are protesting against ongoing violence in Paksitan as they fear for the safety of their loved ones overseas.

Riots broke out in Jaranwala following allegations of blasphemy.

Two Christian brothers stand accused of burning the Koran after their names, addresses and ID numbers were found inside the desecrated holy book.

It led to imams publically calling for rebellion, raising the alarm from the speakers of the local mosques, and encouraging attacks on Christians.

Thousands of Christians were forced to flee their homes – many were made to sleep outside as they hid in fields, fearing for their lives.

Churches were razed to the ground and the country’s security forces were deployed.

In Wales, Rakhel Smith has been left worried about the safety of six of her relatives, still in Pakistan, who she says have been arrested. She says they’ve been jailed for crimes they did not commit.

Through tears, she told listeners gathered in Cardiff Bay for a peaceful protest: "It is very sad, I am heartbroken. I can’t get a hold of my family and I’m worried.

“People have been killed, houses burnt. People are running for their lives, having to hide in fields. I hope that by protesting, the government in Pakistan will get the blasphemy law under control and not use it for 'nothing'."

The protest was organised by Rev Irfan John, from the Methodist Church in Wales, who fled Pakistan almost 20 years ago over fear of persecution because of his Christian beliefs.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are notoriously strict. Those found to have insulted the prophet Muhammed or the Islamic faith, can face a death penalty – but angry mobs often reach those accused long before the police.

In a recent crackdown on instances of alleged blasphemy, those who insult anyone related to Islam's prophet can now face ten years in prison.

Experts have repeatedly warned of the misuse of blasphemy laws, saying groups often make allegations to gain revenge – and seem to require very little proof of an offence being committed.

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