Page 4 - Persecution Trends 2023
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Zafar Bhatti
Another partner also highlighted
the fear of physical attack, which is heightened at Christmas and Easter, as well as the day-to-day discrimination and intimidation such as in education and employment. It added: ‘The introduction of a heavily Islamic national education curriculum has caused a lot of confusion. It diminishes the status of non-Muslims.’
Christians in Afghanistan and the northern areas of Pakistan will continue to run the risk of discovery. Muslim-background believers (MBBs) especially have the constant fear of discovery, betrayal, exposure and attack.
• For converts who experience isolation and lack of Christian fellowship and struggle to access the Bible. They cannot share their faith with others for fear of reprisal, while the pressure to return to their former faith communities can be intense.
Religious minorities in Pakistan are continuing to face frequent attacks and threats, including blasphemy charges, targeted killings, mob violence,
forced conversions and destruction of worship places and graves. After the release of Asia Bibi, the Christian imprisoned on blasphemy charges, in 2018, extremist religious parties started to pressurise government institutions to enforce the blasphemy laws. Pakistan’s judiciary is also
The effects of the Taliban takeover in August 2021 were felt much more keenly in 2022 as its hardline stance became ever more apparent and violence increased. (For example, the denial of women’s education and rights, and seemingly turning a blind eye to attacks on the minority Shia.) This hardline attitude flows over to those who are ‘different’ and may be Christian, both local and foreign.
• Pray that the ban on Afghans travelling to neighbouring countries is lifted.
‘The pressure of the blasphemy law and political discrimination continues and we have to face it every year’
Many Afghan Christians have fled
the country or are living temporarily in neighbouring countries such as Pakistan or Iran, while those who remain have gone into hiding. Once again, the church has been decimated in Afghanistan while a massive earthquake, economic woes and
an impending famine continue to
Our partner said: ‘Release’s financial and prayer support is part of the reason why our ministry is able to continue and develop. The level of suffering in the region is huge... yet in the midst of it all, our ministry is flourishing — and seeing an increase in responses. This has to be answered prayer. Thank you for your support and prayers, especially for the vulnerable seekers and believers we minister to.’
under pressure as witnessed by the amending of a life sentence for blasphemy-accused Christian Zafar Bhatti to the death sentence.
Our partner reported an armed attack on a Christian colony in Balochistan in August in which three children were among those seriously injured. Sadly, it seems that, even after such incidents, the Government has taken little action.
• For protection for believers especially those from non-Christian backgrounds.
exacerbate hardships for all.
  ‘We thank Release International supporters for their prayers and passionate love for us. They always fill the gaps in our ministry and encourage us.’
Some national Christian groups, working quietly, have been able to help Afghan refugees; and some believing Afghans in Pakistan have found an unexpected though cautious freedom in their faith. However, even here the threat of persecution is never far from their minds.
 ‘Pakistan is an Islamic state. The pressure of the blasphemy law and political discrimination continues and we have to face it every year,’ said our partner.
• That peace conferences between Christians and Muslims will reduce the pressure that many believers experience.
The presence of the Taliban has caused many to flee Afghanistan

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