Pakistan Church condemns violence, discrimination against minorities

The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (PCBC) releases a statement following the death of a Christian after a brutal attack.

By Vatican News

The Catholic Church of Pakistan has denounced the religious intolerance and discrimination against the country’s minorities that continue even amid the hardships of Covid-19 and its restrictions. 

The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (PCBC) raised its concern in a statement, a copy of which was sent to the Vatican’s Fides news agency.

Nadeem Joseph and family

The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (PCBC) particularly condemned the brutal attack by Muslims on June 4 on Nadeem Joseph, after his family recently moved to a house he bought in Peshawar’s TV colony, whose residents did not want non-Muslims as their neighbours. 

Nadeem’s wife said the residents threatened her family and created problems to force them to leave.  Since they refused, the Muslims brutalized her husband, dragged him into the street and shot him. 

The woman’s mother and brother went out to rescue Nadeem and one of the bullets hit the mother in the shoulder.  Nadeem died of injuries in hospital on June 29, after he was operated for the fifth time.  “My mother and brother are still recovering from their wounds,” Nadeem’s wife said.

NCJP – “violation of human rights”

A joint statement by NCJP chairman, Archbishop Joseph Arshad Bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, national director Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf and executive director Cecil Chaudhry, called on law enforcement agencies to do everything possible to bring the culprit to justice.  Calling it a “clear violation of human rights” the NCJP said it is “an act against the law that cannot go unpunished”.  

Police arrested several members of Salman Khan’s family who are said to be behind the murder.

The NCJP urged protection for the family of Nadeem that is in difficulty and in danger of reprisal. “My children and I have lived in fear since that day,” Nadedem’s wife said.

Intolerance and discrimination continue

The Commission of Pakistan’s Catholic bishops expressed regret that society has grown intolerant and life has become more difficult for members of minority communities.

Noting that many cases go unreported, the NCJP said, “religious minorities continue to face discrimination as part of their daily lives.”  As examples, it cited the denial of food aid and relief material to non-Muslims during the lockdown and the lack of adequate safety equipment to health workers fighting the pandemic.   

The Commission also pointed to the recent episode in Islamabad in which some extremist Muslims stopped the building of a Hindu temple.  Fr. Yousaf noted the incident reflects the lack of acceptance of religious minorities who have been part of the country.  He said such acts go against Article 20 of the Constitution, which allows religious minorities the freedom to profess their faith and manage their own religious institutions. “The government must work to safeguard the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan enshrined in our Constitution,” the NCJP statement said. (Source: Fides)

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