On March 15, over a dozen Christians were killed and nearly a hundred injured in two separate church bombings. The attacks took place in the Christian neighborhood of Youhanabad in eastern Lahore. Several guards and police, who also died in the suicide bombings, tackled the bombers before the explosives detonated, thus preventing even further casualties.
Unfortunately, these incidents are not isolated ones. In Pakistan, a dispute over a drink of water can lead to a death sentence. A fight about an outstanding debt can result in a mob attack.
Asia Bibi, one of Pakistan’s most well-known Christians, is a mother who was sentenced to death under Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law. It appears that she and some of her co-workers got into a fight because they were angry at her, a Christian, for drinking from a common cup and thus “contaminating” it.
Pakistan holds the third largest Muslim population in the world. Even though the country claims religious tolerance, its laws against blaspheming Islam or Muhammad have led to the imprisonment of many Christians like Asia Bibi. In other cases, charges of blasphemy have incited mobs to murder Christians, like Shehzad Masih and his wife, Shama, who was pregnant when the couple was burned to death in Punjab province. The husband and wife had been arguing over a debt with a man who told mosque leaders they burned a copy of the Koran. The loudspeakers at the mosque called on all faithful Muslims to avenge their holy book, and even though police and some kind neighbors tried to intervene, there was no saving the couple, who left behind three children in addition to the one who died in the womb.
It is improbable for religious conditions in Pakistan to improve until the government becomes more stable. Let’s pray today for Christians who face persecution (especially former Muslims who convert to Christianity), as well as for the government to grow more tolerant.