Thu, 24 Oct 2019

Geneva, [Switzerland] Sept 21 (ANI): A large number of Pakistani Christians, including women and children, living in Europe have held a protest march in Geneva to demand equal rights in Pakistan.

They raised their voice against the blasphemy law, forced conversion of Christian and Hindu girls and a lack of education.

Holding banners demanding "Stop Human Rights Violations Against Christians in Pakistan" and "Abolish Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan", they started protest march from Palais Wilson, the headquarters of the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, and concluded it at Broken Chair, in front of the UN office in Geneva.

The protesters were later joined by Member of European Parliament and other human rights defenders.

Robinson Asghar, a Pakistani Christian leader said, "Be it Christian persecution in Pakistan or any kind of persecution anywhere in the world, we condemn that. The main reason for persecution is blasphemy laws which are misused in Pakistan and the misuse of laws has naturally been a great concern for all Pakistanis and we are here to protest against that."Speaking about Christian girls in Pakistan being allegedly forced into prostitution by the Chinese, Asghar said, "We have raised voice against that as it is a sort of prostitution which they are forced into. They (Chinese) come here and offer some money to the poor Christian families and then those girls are taken away as married and then forced to persecution. Many cases have been highlighted and the government has taken action against those. Now incidents have slowed down, but we are still concerned about thousands of girls been already taken away".

Mario Silva, Former Member of Canadian Parliament, who joined the Pakistani Christian protesters said, "Christians have not been safe for many decades now in Pakistan. The Blasphemy Laws that came into place through section 295-C of Pakistan Penal Code has really targeted all minority groups be it Christians, Hindus or Ahmadians, they have been targeted".

"Before the change in Section 295, there were very few cases, at least 14 cases of people being targeted under Blasphemy law in Pakistan. Now, there are thousands of cases of the blasphemy law. It is designed to target minority group to force them to convert to Islam and to silence those who are preaching their faith," he added.

Herve Juvin, the Member of European Parliament also addressed the gathering at Broken Chair. He said, "Reducing the number of Christians in Pakistan is picking for itself. In the past few years, some 15 per cent of Pakistani citizens from religious minorities - Christians, Shiites and Hindus have now reduced to only 3 per cent. They are leaving the country because of being discriminated against. They are persecuted, sometimes injured, sometimes killed. The situation is deteriorating every year".

The MEP said, "I strongly ask the government of Pakistan to win support on safety to every religious community. They are full citizens of Pakistan and must be granted full support by the government of Pakistan".

The women protesters from the Christian community also participated in large numbers. Many believe that Christian girls are facing challenges because of illiteracy.

Angel Christian, one of the protesters said, "We are now focusing on education of Christian girls. If they are educated, they must be aware of their rights. They are underprivileged and have no access to facilities like books. We also want boys to avail education". (ANI)

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