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2019: another difficult year for Christians in Pakistan

The year 2019 proved to be another challenging year for Christians in Pakistan. Despite lofty claims made by the PTI-led government, the country’s Christian community continued to suffer discrimination, intolerance, and instances of outright persecution. As a result of this continued trend, Pakistan was designated as a Court of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

 

Since the country’s formation in 1947, Christians and other religious minorities have been treated as second-class citizens. Pakistan’s constitution legally bars religious minorities from high government offices and requires that all laws are compatible with Islamic teachings.

Throughout 2019, International Christian Concern (ICC) documented at least 92 incidents of persecution against Pakistan’s Christian community. These incidents included instances of discrimination, sexual assault, abduction, forced conversion, forced marriage, beatings, torture, false blasphemy accusations, and even murder.

False blasphemy accusations continued to negatively affect Pakistan’s Christian community. ICC documented at least 10 Christians accused of blasphemy in 2019. This included Sunaina Amjad, Sophia Amjad, Soneha Amjad, and Sophia Qamar, who were falsely accused of desecrating a Quran by a Muslim neighbor in Karachi in February 2019. The four Christians and their families remain displaced from their homes despite being exonerated by police.

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