Pakistan: Persecution against Christians included murder and forced marriage in second half of 2020

Monday, February 22, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Murder and forced marriage are included in at least 38 documented incidents of persecution against Pakistan’s Christian population in the second half of 2020, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports.

Documenting 38 cases of persecution against Pakistani Christians between July 1 and December 31, 2020, ICC reports that in addition to murder and forced marriage, the attacks also included sexual assault, kidnapping, forced conversions, discrimination, and blasphemy accusations.

Among those accused of blasphemy was Arshad Masih, a Christian factory worker from Sheikhupura, ICC reports. Mr. Masih was stabbed to death on December 14, by Atif Ali, his Muslim coworker at Pakistan Spring Factory.

ICC documented at least seven cases between July and December last year, in which Christian women and girls were abducted by Muslims and forced to marry and convert to Islam. In one high-profile case, Arzoo Raja, a 13-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped from her home in Karachi by Ali Azhar, her 44-year-old Muslim neighbor, and was forced to marry him. However, Arzoo’s parents fought for her release and took the case through the courts. On November 2, after Pakistan’s minister for human rights intervened, the High Court in Sindh ordered police to rescue Arzoo and arrest Azhar.

ICC also noted that a number of high-profile cases in which Christians were accused of blasphemy against Islam were ultimately resolved and the accused were released from lengthy periods of imprisonment. Pakistan ranks 5th on the Open Doors USA World Watch 2021 List of countries where it is most dangerous to be Christian.