Christians in Bangladesh and Pakistan are rallying to support Rohingya Muslims, a fellow persecuted minority in South Asia.
Since August, Rohingya refugees have fled targeted violence in Myanmar, the predominantly Buddhist country (formerly known as Burma) where they have long been denied citizenship or official government recognition.
The “Muslim community is not alone in their hard times,” Chaudhry Amon Emmanuel, a Pakistani Christian social activist and youth leader, told Christians in Pakistan. “We stand by them for their basic right to live. We urge [the] Myanmar government to stop these atrocities on [an] immediate basis.”
An estimated half million Rohingya have left Myanmar to move to Pakistan, most from a former exodus back in the 1960s and ’70s.
Dozens of Pakistani Christians met in front of the National Press Club in Karachi last month to protest Myanmar’s treatment of the mostly Muslim minority. Another event was held in Islamabad for pastors and Christian leaders to address the crisis. Asiya Nasir, a Christian politician, said:
Our Christian leadership and community stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters in Rohingya. Our prayers are with them in this difficult time. Daily prayers will be offered for protection and safety of innocent lives. Christian leadership of Pakistan requests the international community and human rights leaders to speed up the efforts to save our Muslim brothers and sisters in Rohingya.
Fellow Christian groups, familiar with defending their own against religious persecution, spoke up with similar messages. Sheheryar Shams, chairman of Pakistan’s Christian Citizens Forum and a lawyer, condemned Myanmar’s decision to classify the Rohingya population as foreigners and demanded on behalf of the Christian community that the Pakistani government provide security to the group.
The All Pakistan Christian League decried the “inhumane treatment” of the Rohingya population, saying, “We stand with our brothers and sisters in this hour of persecution. We urge the world leadership to unite and put an end to these atrocities.”
Of course, Pakistan has its own ongoing legacy of persecution against minority faiths, including Christians themselves. As one commentator wrote, “What tolerance can Pakistan expect from Myanmar for its Muslim minorities when it is unwilling to apply similar concepts itself?”
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SOURCE: Christianity Today, Morgan Lee