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Pakistan Civil Rights groups protest to seek justice for recent attacks on religious minorities

In Pakistan, civil society groups called for an end to “unabated attacks on people belonging to religious minorities” in Pakistan. They were speaking at a peaceful protest staged by a Christian-led rights organization at the Karachi Press Club on February 6 against the January 30 killing of Christian Pastor William Siraj in Peshawar.
Christian protest killing of Pastor in Peshawar, Pakistan. (Photo: Supplied)

In Pakistan, civil society groups called for an end to “unabated attacks on people belonging to religious minorities” in Pakistan.

They were speaking at a peaceful protest staged by a Christian-led rights organization at the Karachi Press Club on February 6 against the January 30 killing of Christian Pastor William Siraj in Peshawar.

They demanded the attackers’ arrest and that the perpetrators be convicted for their crimes. “However, the sad reality is that attacks on religious minorities usually go unpunished,” they noted.

“The feeling of insecurity within the Christian community and other religious minorities increases when such incidents take place in Pakistan. We feel left alone, unprotected, and in danger,” said Noel Ijaz, chairman of Muttahida Masihi Council Pakistan.

Though Christians are beaten,  persecuted, attacked, again and again, they have not lost hope, stated Christian human rights activist Asif Bastian, from  The Voice of Justice group. He said Christians are “repeatedly attacked by Islamic fanatics and criminals with impunity.”

“We demand justice for our pastor martyred in Peshawar and demand the arrest of the assailants to duly prosecute them. And we also pray for peace, harmony and unity in Pakistan,” he added.

On January 30, two attackers on a motorcycle opened fire on the car of  Pastor Patrick Naeem and Pastor William Siraj as the clerics drove home from church, killing Pastor William and wounding the other.

They also demanded justice for killing Hindu trader Sattan Lal on January 31 in Daharki, in Sindh province.

Sattan Lal was killed when his new cotton factory and flour mill were officially opened. He had previously been threatened and told to leave the country and go to India as he was a Hindu.

Sarran refused to be cowed down in a video that went viral a few months ago. He said “I belong to this country, and I will prefer to die here and will not surrender.”

 “It is terrible. We also demand justice for him. These terrorists only bring shame and a bad name to our beloved homeland by attacking the religious minorities living in Pakistan,” Joseph Jansen, chairman of The Voice for Justice, told the media.

According to UCA News, last week, the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) and Archbishop Benny Mario Travas of Karachi called on the whole Christian community to unite in prayer after the attack on the pastors.  

The archbishop condemned the attack and appealed to the government to bring the killers to justice and work for the peace and security of all the religious minorities living in Pakistan.

The murder of the pastor has instilled fear among Christians and has disturbed the peace and religious harmony all over Pakistan, the prelate said in a statement.

The gruesome killing is yet another incident of atrocities faced by the minority communities in Pakistan. Christians have suffered brutalities like abduction and killings and have been convicted of blasphemy, facing a death sentence, according to an IANS report.

After the latest killing of Pastor William Siraj, there are fears among minority Christians in Pakistan that Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan or Pakistani Taliban would target them again. In recent years, Christians have been targeted by the militants, and violence has increased since the Pakistani Taliban ended a ceasefire with the Pakistan government recently, the report said.

Pakistan had the second-highest number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Nigeria, in Open Doors' 2022 World Watch report, with 620 slain between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021. The nation also had the fourth-highest number of churches attacked or closed, with 183, and ranked eighth on the list of the 50 countries where it is most challenging to be a Christian.

 

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