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Pakistan's foreign minister says the west are playing up Christian persecution

by Cara Bentley

Just a few months after the release of Asia Bibi, a Catholic woman on death row, and several other cases of Christians having fled the country or trying to be free of similar blasphemy charges - the politician has denied that it is a trend. 

Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on his two-day visit to Brussels that accounts of Christians being violently treated were "individual incidents" no different to minorities being killed by knife crime in the UK or other minorities being mistreated in the rest of Europe. 

He said: "I can assure you that Christians are very welcome. The Christian community in Pakistan is very positive and a very responsible community...We respect them and we want them to be there. We will do everything possible to protect them and we are."

"I can quote you examples of how knife crime has gone up in Britain that is a clear reflection of an increased intolerance within a society which has been so tolerant, so accommodating. So there are examples over here, and there could be some examples over there," he said. 

There are an estimated 3.9 million Christians in Pakistan in a country of 200.8 million, meaning they make up about two per cent of the population.

Their blasphemy laws prohibit speaking negatively of the Muslim prophet Muhammad and the Christian religious freedom charity Open Doors put Pakistan 5th on their list of countries where it is worst to be a Christian, with top being North Korea. 

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