The Christian community organizes a demonstration demanding an end to the violence

Several Christian rights activists and organizations staged a protest calling on the government to better protect the lives and property of religious minorities in Pakistan. The group has called for the arrest and prosecution of the attackers who shot and killed Pastor William Siraj and injured Pastor Patrick Naeem in Peshawar last week.

During a protest outside the Karachi Press Club on Monday, Muttahida Masihi council chairman Noel Ijaz said feelings of insecurity among the Christian community had increased following the violent murder.

“We would feel better protected if the police succeeded in arresting the attackers and if the perpetrators were convicted for their crimes. It is a sad reality that perpetrators involved in the persecution of minorities generally enjoy impunity,” he observed.

One protester, Alyas Samuel, said that whenever minorities are attacked, the perceived inaction of the police and government makes minorities seem like second-class citizens and not treated equally.

Another, Asif Bastian, lamented the government’s response, which some say encourages terrorists and extremists to oppress and attack minorities, especially Christians, with impunity.

“Religious minorities are repeatedly beaten and we find no protection. If we retaliate, the police put us in jail, but the elements behind the mob attacks on minority settlements get away with their crimes,” he commented.

Voice for Justice President Joseph Jansen cited the government’s response to the killing of two Muslims in 2015 in retaliation for attacks on the church in Youhanabad. In this case, the police took direct action and arrested 200 Christians, ultimately charging 47 members of the Christian community. At least 41 Christians spent five years in prison until they were finally acquitted, Jansen said, noting the government’s swift action on the matter.

Last week, a Peshawar priest was murdered in broad daylight as he was returning home from mass. In another incident a few days later, a Hindu shopkeeper was shot dead by assailants in Sindh, despite his previous pleas for police help.

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