There have been two recent developments in Pakistani law that further threaten the freedom of religious minorities in the country. On Wednesday, the Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs passed the Ehtram-e-Ramazan (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which governs behavior during Ramazan. The punishment for hotels that violate the law rose from Rs 500 to Rs 25,000 (about $5 to $238.) People who smoke or eat openly during the Islamic holy month of fasting can now face a fine of Rs 500 and 3 months in jail. These developments affect non-Muslim Pakistanis who do not follow the Islamic traditions of Ramazan.
A further threat concerning religious minority members came in the form of a text message to millions of Pakistanis. Acting on a court order, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority sent a text to cell phone users stating that the “uploading & sharing of blasphemous content on Internet is a punishable offense under the law” and encouraging people to report such material to the government. Blasphemy laws have long been used as a trap against Christians and other religious minorities. With the government’s rally to catch anyone who speaks out against Islam, many fear that more religious minority members may be targeted. As a college student was lynched by peers just last month for his opposing views to Islam, people fear deadly attacks such as this could increase.
Jubilee Campaign condemns these recent developments in Pakistan that seek to constrict the liberties of religious minorities.
Many Pakistani Christians are forced to flee Pakistan due to social and legal persecution against them. Our organization has committed to financially support these refugees. Without outside assistance, they often cannot afford food for their families or education for their children. If you would like to support a refugee family in need, please donate here.