The roiling social currents in Pakistan, in which even Shiite and Ahmadi Muslims are under attack from the majority Sunni Muslim population, are making life difficult for Christians, Hindus and other religious minorities, The Huffington Post reports.
Religion writer Jaweed Kaleem, reporting from Karachi, Pakistan's largest and most populous city as well as its financial center and main seaport, details the struggles — and successes — of people who lived together in relative harmony under British colonial rule before the 1947 partition and for the next 30 years, before the rule of Zia-ul-Haq, a military dictator who began a process of Islamization in the country. Now, accusations of blasphemy against religious minorities are rampant, with Christians and others living in fear of attacks from Islamists.
"Though Pakistan's constitution guarantees freedom of religion, reports of forced conversions to Islam, kidnappings of non-Muslims, job discrimination, blasphemy arrests and razings of minority houses of worship are frequent, Kaleem reports. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 34 people were charged with blasphemy in 2013. The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch reports that at least 16 people are on death row in the country for blasphemy, and 20 are serving life sentences."
Kaleem also reported the recent kind words from Pope Francis to the world's Muslim community might have a positive effect on the ground in Pakistan. According to Rev. Francis Gulzar, a priest at St. John's Catholic Church in Youhanabad, "while international gestures are not the solution to problems among Pakistan's minorities, 'if [Pope Francis] keeps speaking kindly about Islam, it could resonate to make Muslims have a better view of Christians in their own nation.' "
Read the complete article on The Huffington Post.