Pakistan Christians Fleeing To Southeast Asia Amid Violence

Jul 15th, 2015 | By | Category: Featured
Pakistani Christians are being driven from their homes by Muslim fanatics.

Pakistani Christians are being driven from their homes by Muslim fanatics.

LAHORE, Pakistan, July 13 (News Lens Pakistan) — As violence worsens for Pakistan’s Christians, more than 100,000 of them have fled to U.N. refugee camps in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and the Philippines in the past several years, Lahore Bishop Alexander John Malik told News Lens Pakistan.

Pakistani Christians face discrimination and persecution by the state and fellow citizens. They are routinely accused of blasphemy and attacked or jailed. Their homes and churches are burned down. Christian girls are kidnapped and compelled to convert to Islam, then forcibly married.

Christians, along with other religious minorities, find it nearly impossible to get justice from the state when they are harassed or discriminated against, Malik said.

It has not proved difficult for those with means to make their way to other Asian countries. Speaking in Urdu, the bishop added, “People get entry visas at the airports of Sri Lanka and Philippines. To acquire Thai and Malaysian visas isn’t difficult. Moreover, traveling is also not very expensive.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has said that the number of Pakistani asylum seekers arriving in Sri Lanka had jumped to over 1,400, up from 102 in 2012. Another 8,000 Pakistani refugees and asylum seekers — those without official refugee status — were in Thailand. These groups are mostly made up of Christians and Ahmadiyya Muslims, a minority sect within Islam.

Zeshan Pervaiz and his family are living in a UNHCR refugee camp in Bangkok. Originally from Gojra in Punjab, they left Pakistan three years ago after the Gojra Riots of 2009. In those attacks, dozens of homes and a church in a Christian community were set on fire after two men were accused of desecrating the Koran. Eight people died in the fires.

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