Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, February 17, 2006

Christians targeted for persecution in Palestine, Pakistan and Kosovo

February 16, 2006

At the Congressional Working Group on Religious Freedom this week, experts gave testimony on three regions where Christians are victims of religious persecution.

Justus Reid Weiner, author of Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society, said that “finding religious freedom where I come from is like a blind man finding a black cat in a dark room when the cat isn’t there.” He spoke about how the election of Hamas has stoked fears among non-Muslim Palestinians, who have been victimized by “trigger happy thugs” who burn their churches and harass them in many ways. According to Weiner, Hamas is seeking a “dhimmi tax,” or a tax for all non-Muslims living in Palestinian territory. The implementation of Shari’a law as the paramount source of legislation is another major concern for non-Muslims there. Weiner showed posters taken from the region exulting suicide bombers, some of them clearly minors.

“[Palestinian] Christians have received little protection from anyone since the Oslo peace process,” Weiner said. “We [the West] are abandoning Christians to radical Islam.” He added, “This is not only a Christian issue, but a human rights issue.”

Cecil Chaudry, Board Director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, echoed Weiner's sentiments about religious minorities living in Pakistan, specifically focusing on blasphemy laws. Chaudry said that while Pakistan was formed as a secular country, religious parties have since risen to power, allowing for the creation of discriminatory laws. Pakistan’s blasphemy law in particular targets non-Muslims; anyone who is not a follower of Islam is under threat of being targeted by it. Now, Chaudry said, Muslims are using the blasphemy law against each other as well as against non-Muslims, which makes him hopeful that it will be repealed.

Chaudry also addressed the injustice of Hadoud laws, which mandate that rape victims must produce five male Muslim witnesses to verify their testimony. If a victim cannot do this, she goes to jail for immoral behavior. These laws are particularly punitive to non-Muslim rape victims.

The Bishop of Kosovo, Artemije Radosavljevic, spoke last, testifying that giving the Kosovo region of Serbia independence would create a Muslim dominated state and be a “sentence of extinction” for Christians living there. He called Kosovo a “black hole of corruption,” and said that in addition to the persecution of non-Muslims that continues to occur there, the area is also a hub for organized crime and human trafficking.


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