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It seems not a week goes by without a truly shocking story emanating from Pakistan, one that shines a light on the reality of being the minority in an Islamic majority country. It is hard to think of many of the dozens of Islamic states around the world where being a minority would be a pleasant and free existence. In fact, there isn’t a single muslim majority country that has an IHRRI (International Human Rights Rank Indicator) rating of more than 62%. So spare a thought for the lives of Christians living in Pakistan, even the Pope doesn’t seem to care – he’s had enough appeals for help – so will you?
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, recently took time off from criticising Donald Trump to undertake a tax payer funded trip to Pakistan to ‘promote London’. Surely, someone so vocal about the ‘victimisation and oppression of muslim minorities’ would take this golden opportunity to take the dignitaries in Lahore to task for their country’s appalling treatment of the 2% Christian minority? After all, he had demanded the British Government apologise for an atrocity a hundred years ago in India (Khan is descended from Indian Muslims). Sadly, he didn’t.
We have Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother on death row (in solitary confinement) since 2010 for the crime of drinking water from a well intended for muslims. A group of muslim women reported her, and angry mobs regularly take to the streets calling for her to be killed, incensed at the delays in her execution. She is sentenced to be hung. I repeat,
she drank water from a well not intended for a Christian. There is a $10,000 bounty on her head for the person that kills her. Where’s the outrage from Khan and the rest, demanding her release? Shahbaz Bhatti, a minister for religious freedoms who supported Bibi and tried to help her was murdered by extremists. The Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was murdered by his own bodyguard for planning to revise blasphemy laws and showing sympathy for Bibi.
Last week we heard how Sajid Masih, a Christian, was arrested and taken in by the Federal Investigation Agency, on the basis of being the cousin of Patris Masih, prime suspect in another ‘blasphemy’ case. Taken into the FIA buildings with his brother, he was beaten, then in an effort to completely degrade him, the government officials demanded he perform oral sex on his relative. Refusing, he then lept from the building and remains in a critical condition in hospital.
Social media reveals alarming support for such abhorrent behaviour by the state against minorities such as Christians and atheists.
In February 2018, 800 members of a Christian community were forced to flee their homes in terror after an 18 year old Christian shared an image on Facebook that his mobile phone repairer took a dislike to. Mosque loudspeakers whipped up a mob of 3,000 who threatened to burn down all the Christian homes – something that has happened on a number of occasions before in Pakistan. The baying mob demanded a public hanging of the illiterate teen, and could only be dispersed when the police told them the boy had been arrested and accused of blasphemy.
It’s an uncomfortable reality we have to talk about. This isn’t ‘a tiny minority’. Government officials are part of this persecution. Imagine Trump treated the muslim minority in the USA this way, then we would hear it endlessly. But that won’t happen because we know the USA would never behave in such a way, the bar is set much lower for some countries and cultures it seems.
Why didn’t Khan mention any of this on his trip, and why is the media so unwilling to tackle this culture that has no place in the 21st Century? The feigned shock of Rochdale, Rotherham and all the rest highlighted in the Quilliam report that told us ‘we have a serious problem with British Pakistani communities’ shows a blind spot that displays moral cowardice. It is much easier to sneer at President Trump for wishing to tackle these issues head on than lose face and votes isn’t it Mr Khan? As Asia Bibi deteriorates in prison, and Sajid Masih lies in a hospital bed, I wonder if you can look at your selfies and photo ops without a twinge of uncomfortable guilt at your missed opportunity?