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World News

Priest in Pakistan says Christians are under threat

by Cara Bentley

A priest in Pakistan has told a Christian charity that believers are under increased threat since the Taliban took control in Afghanistan. 

Father Mushtaq Anjum told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN): "The threat against them [Christians] has increased, since our government [in Pakistan] supports the victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan."

The priest said there is a scepticism towards Christianity because of its association with a different culture: "Both Afghanistan and Pakistan consider the United States as an enemy. There is a deep-seated hatred of western countries where Christians compose a sizable proportion of the population. 

"The brotherhood of the countries is based on Surah Al-Ma'idah 5:51 of the Qur'an, which warns believers against becoming allies of Jews and Christians. It is largely because of the Taliban that religious minorities in Pakistan and Afghanistan live a subdued life."

Blasphemy laws in Pakistan have long been a problem, such as in the case of Asia Bibi, who was nearly put to death after being accused of insulting Islam. 

Father Anjum said: "We have always complained of mob rule and about the controversial blasphemy law which has been grossly abused, with many people making false accusations to settle personal scores, to obtain the victim's property, or to attack the person's faith.

"We have always demanded that the majority of Muslims should respect and accept religious diversity in Pakistan."

The clergyman added that the future is concerning: "I am afraid many Taliban will return to Pakistan and exploit Islamist extremism, pushing Pakistani terror groups to step up attacks. 

"They thrive on violence. The government should ensure protection of churches and minority places of worship before their arrival."  

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