We have posted several stories here over the years of Christians in Pakistan being victimized by that country’s blasphemy laws. Here is some general background on the situation of Christians there. “Pakistan: Minority Christians prepare to celebrate Christmas,” by Syed Saleem Shahzad for AKI (thanks to Insubria):
Karachi, 21 Dec. (AKI) – (by Syed Saleem Shahzad) – The minority Christian community in Pakistan has begun preparations for Christmas.
Although there are reports of Christians facing threats and discrimination in the overwhelmingly Muslim country, members of the community in the southern port city of Karachi are out in force to celebrate the festival.
“We do celebrate Christmas like the Muslims in Pakistan celebrate their Eids,” said Herbert Fernandas, president of the Catholic Association of Pakistan in an interview with AKI.
“The Christians are very happy and have no problem living in Pakistan,” a member of the Goan Roman Catholic Community in Karachi, Ralph D’Cruz, told AKI.
“The problems related to militancy and some laws concerning minorities are of some concern but this is for all Pakistanis and nothing specific to Christians or other minorities,” said D’ Cruz who works as a crime reporter with a government-owned news agency.
“These extremist jihadis are Pakistani establishment’s ploy and nothing to do with Pakistani society,” said D’Cruz.
“I never faced any problem being a Christian while covering criminal cases or the police department,” he added.
D’Cruz’s wife, even referred to the positive discrimination her community sometimes faces.
“We are sometimes given preference for jobs as English is our lingua franca,” she said.
Despite being a long established community, Christians in other parts of Pakistan have faced problems. There have been reports of Christians in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) facing death threats if they did not convert to Islam.
Christians, like other religious minorities in Pakistan also have to deal with the country’s blasphemy laws, which give the death penalty for defiling the Koran or insulting the Prophet, a sweeping definition that can be widely interpreted.
Muslim extremists have been known to use Pakistan’s blasphemy laws as an excuse to attack Christians.
Although no Christian in Pakistan has ever been executed under the blasphemy laws, members of the minority community say that they have been victimised under the legislation.
Aftab Alexander Mughal, a Christian and a publisher of a magazine on minority communities, told AKI of a Christian woman named Martha Bibi, who this year was accused and convicted of making derogatory remarks against the Koran and of defiling the Prophet Mohammad.
Bibi has been in jail since January and the High Court in Lahore recently turned down her appeal to have the charges quashed.
It is estimated that it takes about seven to ten years for those convicted in such cases to be freed once the case reaches the Supreme Court.
Mughal said that although, no one found guilty of blasphemy has been hanged so far, some of those charged under the legislation have been killed while in police custody.
Many of those convicted of blasphemy are believed to be Christian.