The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pakistan: A State of Persecution

The quality of our nation's relationship with Pakistan, our supposed ally in the War on Terror, has sunk to its lowest point in decades. The Navy Seals' successful operation which resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden was conducted without Pakistani assistance or knowledge because of concerns that any tactical information shared with Pakistan would quite likely make its way to the terrorists. Despite all the rhetoric about Pakistani support in the War on Terror, we obviously do not trust them, and they know it.

Pakistani Bin Laden supporters after his death
The Pakistani government has been very vocal in its condemnation of the Seals' operation because it must appease a Muslim population that has become increasingly radicalized. A majority of the population either openly supports al-Qaeda or the Taliban or is highly sympathetic with their aims. Urged on by extremist mullahs, the people of Pakistan could very well take to the streets and bring about an extreme Islamist state similar to Iran's. We already know that the Pakistani intelligence community has links with both the Taliban and al-Qaeda. And despite the prevailing wisdom assuring us that the Pakistani military would step in to prevent any radical change of government, can the current government actually count on the military's support? Bin Laden, after all, lived for years in a military town, next to door to a major military facility, with military retirees as his neighbors. And nobody knew it? We are fooling ourselves if we believe their military is so Westernized it would openly resist the nation's increasing radicalization. The truth is, Pakistan is already well on its way. It seems the entire country is becoming radicalized.

1 of 47 Christian homes destroyed in one Pakistani village
Further evidence of this widespread popular support for radical Islamist ideology is the increased persecution of Pakistani Christians. Over the past few years Pakistan has become a world leader in the persecution of Christians. In most instances this persecution has been carried out by Muslim mobs, urged on and supported by the mullahs, while police and government officials look the other way. Churches have been looted and destroyed, the homes of Christians are systematically burned down by Muslim mobs, and ministers and priests are physically attacked and murdered. And anyone, Christian or Muslim, who criticizes these violent tactics is subject to the same treatment.

And then there's Pakistan's "Anti-Blasphemy Law" which prohibits damaging or defiling a place of worship, outraging religious feelings, defiling the Quran, or defaming the prophet Muhammad. It also forbids proselytizing by non-Muslims. As written, the law seems to protect all religions from attacks by others; but in reality it is used only to protect Islam. The penalties include fines, imprisonment and death. Although non-Muslims make up only 3% of the population, the vast majority of prosecutions have been of Christians and Hindus. In many instances, the charges result from false accusations brought by those who would benefit financially if the accused were imprisoned or executed.

One recent case is that of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman and mother of five currently under a sentence of death for supposedly making a derogatory comment about Muhammad. Her situation has received worldwide attention. When the governor of Punjab and the Pakistani Minority Affairs Minister came to her defense, both were assassinated. I've addressed Asia Bibi's situation in previous posts:

Persecution Update - Nov 30, 2010
Update on the Fate of Asia Bibi - Dec 1, 2010
 Another Tragic Death: Shahbaz Bhatti - Mar 2, 2011
Another, more sinister, kind of persecution is becoming increasingly common in Pakistan: the kidnapping and forced conversion of non-Muslim women who are then forced into marriage with Muslim men. I could provide details, but suggest you read the story first-hand as published by Christian sisters kidnapped, forced to marry a wealthy Muslim

Is there a solution to Pakistan's growing radicalization, its seemingly constant drift toward Islamist extremism? One Muslim journalist seems to think so, and it involves education and a partnership with Christians. Click here to learn more about this man's prescription to save his country: Muslim journalist advocates public schools along Christian model.  

The courageous Christians of Pakistan are suffering much. Please keep them in your prayers.

No comments:

Post a Comment