ASIA/PAKISTAN - Bishops: concern over the increase in violence against religious minorities

Wednesday, 8 July 2020 human rights   religious freedom   religious minorities   islam   hinduism   christianity   violence  

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "Despite the current Covid-19 pandemic, which is posing its share of challenges in Pakistan, religious intolerance and discrimination in recent months have increased": is the complaint of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), within the Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference.
The statement sent to Agenzia Fides states: "Recently, Nadeem Joseph, a Christian from Peshawar, and his mother-in-law Elizabeth Masih were brutally attacked by the Muslim Salman Khan and his sons a few days after Nadeem Joseph bought a house in the Colony in Peshawar, Pakistan on June 4, 2020, in a Muslim dominated neighbourhood and his neighbors did not tolerate the presence of a non-Muslim in their neighborhood". Police arrested several members of Salman Khan's family in connection with the incident.
NCJP strongly condemns this act of violence. In a joint statement, Archbishop Joseph Arshad, Chairman of the Commission, National Director Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf and Executive Director Cecil S. Chaudhry declare: "Pakistani society has become increasingly intolerant and living as a religious minority is becoming more and more difficult. There are many similar incidents that are not reported. Religious minorities continue to face discrimination as part of their daily lives", it stresses, citing refusal to give food supplies or provide relief to non-Muslims during the pandemic, or that of poor personal protection for health workers, who are at the forefront. Bishops call on law enforcement agencies to do everything possible to catch the main culprit who brutally killed Nadeem Joseph and bring him to justice, noting the "clear violation of human rights" and "an act against the law that cannot go unpunished". "Nadeem's family is in difficulty and in danger after this attack. The government must ensure security and protection for them and for all religious minorities", said Archbishop Joseph Arshad, Bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, and Chairman of the NCJP.
The Commission also highlighted the recent issue of building a Hindu temple in Islamabad, blocked by some extremist Muslims. Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf National Director of the NCJP, said: "This move certainly reflects the lack of acceptance for religious minorities who have been part of this country for centuries. This act undermines the guarantees provided for in article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan which allows religious minorities the freedom to profess religion and manage their own religious institutions. The government must work to safeguard the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan enshrined in our Constitution". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 8/7/2020)