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Pakistani Christians told to Convert to Islam or Die


Convert to Islam or die. Those are the two options facing Christian residents of one Pakistani village. 

The violence reportedly started when a Muslim accused a Christian of blaspheming the Prophet Mohammed

The Christian man, Imran Masih, was severely beaten and then some members of the Muslim community reportedly planned to set him on fire. Masih, along with his family, are said to have left the village and are in hiding.

Now elders of the predominately Muslim village of Chak 44 are demanding to know his whereabouts and have issued a religious fatwa and a reward of about $1000 for his capture.

Shortly after the fatwa was issued, mobs of radical Muslims started torching homes of Christian villagers forcing many families to flee for their lives.

Saleem Iqbal, director of a human rights group in the area, told a German newspaper that Christians in the village are facing a perilous situation. "They are facing a complete social and economic boycott as no shopkeeper is selling anything to them," Iqbal said.

Local authorities have reportedly stepped in asking Christian and Muslim leaders to solve the problem peacefully but Christians in Chak are still on edge.

"We are totally unsatisfied with our lives and the fact of the matter is that despite the efforts of the police officials, extremists can attack us any time," Yaqoob Iqbal told German newspaper DW.

According to Open Doors, a group that monitors religious repression around the world, Christians and other non-Muslim faiths are routinely persecuted in Pakistan. 

In a report release earlier this month, the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) found that the Pakistani government has "continued to perpetrate and tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations".

The group recommended that Pakistan be designated a "country of particular concern" in a damning critique on its government's failure to tackle extremism. 

"For years, the Pakistani government has failed to protect citizens, minority and majority alike, from sectarian and religiously-motivated violence," the report stated. "Pakistani authorities also have failed to consistently bring perpetrators to justice or take action against societal actors who incite violence."

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