Pakistani Christians worried about potential persecution as government expels French ambassador: World: Christianity Daily
Pakistani Christians are said to be worried about the potential persecution that would occur when a French ambassador was expelled based on appeals from supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan.
the International Christian Concern said political unrest in Pakistan could lead to the persecution of Christians there after TLP supporters violently demonstrated in the streets for days. The protest took place after the government arrested TLP founder and leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi. The TLP would put to death anyone accused of blasphemy. The French ambassador is being pushed to be expelled from Pakistan by the TLP after declaring facts he considers blasphemous.
According to Mission Network News, the TLP held 11 police officers as hostages which they later released after negotiations with the government. The TLP pressured the government to dismiss the French diplomat, but the latter refused to do so. The violent TLP protests have already claimed two lives.
France 24, meanwhile, said in his report that the TLP has given the government until April 20 to expel the French ambassador. TLP has been leading anti-France campaigns for months, prompted by the republication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in Charlie Hebdo magazine.
Mission News Network pointed out that Christians in Pakistan could be caught in the midst of this conflict as the TLP has “animosity” towards Western ideas and in fact views Christianity as one of them. The MNN cited an interview with The Voice Of The Martyrs’ media relations and message integration chief Todd Nettleton about Pakistani Christians at risk of persecution due to all the turmoil caused by the TLP.
“The Christians [could be] symbolically targeted in these disturbances and in the unfolding violence. One of the challenges for Christians in Pakistan is that they are often seen as a Western religion, ”Nettleton said.
“They (TLP) have animosity towards Western ideas, so Christians could potentially be caught in the crossfire, or they could be targeted,” he added.
“Pray that God will protect, watch and encourage them during this time. Pray for peace to be restored to the streets of Pakistan. The second thing we can do is make sure our government leaders know we care about religious freedom; we care about Pakistan protecting its Christian people, ”he said.
Nettleton pointed out that American elected officials work for Christians there even “at least in theory” unlike Pakistan and that is why he often reminds American Christians of the need to let officials know “what our priorities are.”
The International Christian Concern added that there were no reported incidents against Christians to date regarding the unrest, but stressed the need to pray for Pakistani Christians as Nettleton requested.
UCA News previously reported that Pakistani Christians had undergone different treatments when working in Muslim offices where they were separated in glasses.
Additionally, local Christians are actually referred to using a racial and abusive term reserved for sanitation workers. “Churha”, which means “low caste”, is the term for local Christians. Despite local prejudices, local Christians reach out to Pakistani Muslims by engaging in “table friendships” with them during special seasons such as Lent.