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Blasphemous Oppression in the Name of Islam: Hold Pakistan Accountable for Persecuting Religious Minorities

July 14, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The world is aflame. Religious minorities are among those who suffer most from increasing conflict. Pakistan is one of the worst homes for non-Muslims. The U.S. government should designate that nation as a “Country of Particular Concern” for failing to protect religious liberty, the most basic right of conscience.

Religious persecution is a global scourge. Many of the worst oppressors are Muslim nations. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Bahrain, Iraq, and Egypt are all important international actors. All also mistreat, or acquiesce in the mistreatment of, anyone not a Muslim. Some of them even victimize Muslims—of the wrong variety. (In Syria it is opponents of the government which do most of the persecuting.)

Islamabad is another frequent offender. The most recent State Department report on religious liberty in Pakistan noted that “The constitution and other laws and policies officially restrict religious freedom and, in practice, the government enforced many of these restrictions. The government’s respect for and protection of the right to religious freedom continued to be poor.”

Minority faiths face violent attack. Believers are killed, churches are bombed, buses are attacked, homes are destroyed, social gatherings are targeted. Warned the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in its recent report: “In the past year, conditions hit an all-time low due to chronic sectarian violence targeting mostly Shia Muslims but also Christians, Ahmadis, and Hindus.” Last year the Commission cited a spike in violence against Shiites as well as “numerous attacks against innocent Pakistanis” of other religions.

A state which fails to protect the right of individuals to respond to their belief (or unbelief) in God is more likely to leave other essential liberties unprotected.”

Although Islamabad did not launch these assaults, it did little to prevent or redress them. Even when scores or more are killed at a time there often is no effective response. Explained State: “The government’s limited capacity and will to investigate or prosecute the perpetrators of increasing extremist attacks against religious minorities and on members of the Muslim majority promoting tolerance, allowed the climate of impunity to continue.” Indeed, top government officials have been gunned down for defending freedom of conscience.

The most common tool of persecution may be a charge of blasphemy. Said USCIRF: “The country’s blasphemy laws, used predominantly in Punjab province, but also nationwide, target members of religious minority communities and dissenting Muslims and frequently result in imprisonment.” Two years ago a mentally …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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