Christians protest lack of protection

By August 5, 2009

Pakistan (MNN) — Pakistani Christians want better
protection following Saturday's deadly rampage in eastern Punjab. Although over 100 are in custody, this makes
the third attack in a month. 

President Asif Ali Zardari promised financial compensation
for the victims and families, but the promise feels empty to the victims. It took five hours for authorities to respond
to calls for assistance as the riots escalated.

More chilling is a report from an independent Pakistani investigation. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says the
rioting that killed eight Christians last week was not spontaneous but was planned
by the attackers.

In some areas, Christians and Muslims have co-existed
peacefully, but that's changing with the rise of extremism and the Taliban. Today, believers in Pakistan face severe
opposition from militant Islamic groups, including imprisonment, torture and
even death.  

Todd Nettleton with
Voice of the Martyrs says, "What the Christians want is some
protection. They also want to see the blasphemy laws to end in Pakistan–the
blasphemy laws which are so often used against believers."

Under Law 295c, many Pakistani Christians have been falsely
accused of blaspheming Mohammed or the Quran–a crime punishable
by death.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Christians make up less than five percent of Pakistan's 175
million people. Even so, the church is
strong. 

There is risk to being in ministry, but Nettleton says their
team accepts it. "If you're  a church planter, if you're a witness for
Christ, you know you're putting your life on the line. But when whole
villages are rampaged, it really does raise issues of safety and
protection."

Christian schools closed this week to protest the
killings.

Nettleton encourages prayer that good will come
from this. "The radical Muslims
see how the Christians respond, and if they are able to respond with love and
forgiveness instead of anger and hostility, that can be an incredible witness
for Christ; that can plant some amazing seeds."

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