A Christian family’s home in Pakistan, burned by rampaging Muslims
A Pakistani judge has released six more of the suspects in a series of attacks on Christians in Gojra, Pakistan, and rights activists say the decision just adds to the victimization of the members of the religious minority.
The Sessions Court Judge for Toba Sek Singh recently released the suspects, who are accused of the murders of 11 Christians and with burning down more than 40 Christian-owned houses in Gojra.
The action follows last month’s order by a Lahore judge releasing 13 other suspects in the case.
Ahmad Amasa is an Israeli-born Arab who specializes in human rights law at Harvard Law School and he says these types of abuses are not unusual.
“This happens a lot when there is one prevailing religion in a country. The system is normally geared to help the religious majority,” he said.
That explanation, however, doesn’t satisfy those who are concerned by the human rights violations in the situation.
International Christian Concern’s Central Asian expert Jonathan Racho said it is true that the laws are discriminatory.
“The laws in Pakistan are … biased against Christians. The laws protect Islam,” he said. “Muslims use the laws to support violence and attacks against the Christians.
“The release of those six men is very serious and a cause of great concern by Christians in Gojra,” he said.
“The leaders in Pakistan say that these six men and the others will resume their acts of violence against Christians. The release isn’t punishment. It tells any Islamic extremist that they can do whatever they want to.”
The Gojra attacks are the latest in a series of increasingly violent acts against Christians.
A Muslim mob attacked Murree, Pakistan, resident Rafiq Mashi Bhatti and his family, threatening to kill them if they didn’t convert to Islam.
Burned, looted home in Korian village (Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement)
The threats began five months ago and involved a series of letters, phone calls and verbal taunts.
Other recent attacks in Pakistan include the murder by burning to death of eight Christians near Lahore. The Muslim mob accused the eight of insulting Islam and “desecrating” a copy of the Quran.
Also, a Muslim mob attacked and looted more than 50 houses in Bahami Wala in the Kasur district of Punjab Province and another mob burned a church in the Sialkot district of Punjab Province.
Terrorism and Pakistan scholar Animesh Roul is the executive director of the Society for the Study of Peace and Conflict in New Delhi, India, and he says the increase in attacks is due to the powerful emergence of the Taliban.
“Portions of Pakistan are actually lawless and controlled by the Taliban. They give control to local warlords who answer to them,” he said. “The increase in violence is also because of Pakistan’s ISI and army helping the Taliban.”
WND reported recently when the European Centre for Law and Justice filed a petition with the U.N.’s special rapporteurs seeking prosecutions in Pakistan for those responsible for the attacks and killings of Christians.
“We have expressed in the strongest terms possible that the Pakistani government must prosecute acts of violence based upon religion,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the organization, as well as the U.S.-based American Center for Law and Justice.
“Christians are being singled out and murdered because of their faith. Only when the Pakistani government effectively prosecutes those responsible for the acts of violence will attacks against Christians end,” he said.
The ECLJ is seeking for the U.N. to call on Pakistan to prosecute those guilty of the deadly attacks on Christians, which have claimed the lives of at least 60 Christians in recent years.
The ECLJ is an international firm that focuses on protecting human rights and religious freedom in Europe and worldwide. It has handled a number of cases before the European Court of Human Rights and has been designated as special Consultative Status with the United Nations.
It reported just a month ago when a false rumor of desecration of a Quran, which is punishable under Pakistani law, sparked attacks by “mobs of thousands of religiously-motivated Muslims.”
“Mobsters equipped with automatic weapons looted and set fire to … homes and a church in Christian Town, Gojra,” the petition cited.
At least seven charred bodies of Pakistani Christian men, women and children who had been burned alive were found in the rubble, officials reported. The authorities did not file any charges against the assailants until after the Christians protested by not burying the ones who died in the attack.