04/25/2021 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – According to Mission Network News, Christians in Pakistan are concerned they will be the targets of religiously motivated violence following days of protest by supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
TLP supporters took to the streets in protest after the government arrested Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the party’s founder and leader. The conflict between the TLP, which believes anyone accused of blasphemy should be put to death, and the government stems from a demand that the French ambassador should be expelled from the country over statements made by French officials TLP leaders found to be blasphemous.
When this demand was refused, Rizvi threatened mass demonstrations. In reaction, government officials arrested Rizvi and ban the TLP. This ignited mass protests across Pakistan and led to deadly clashes between police and TLP supporters.
After days of violence, the Pakistani government released Rizvi and introduced a resolution that would call for the expulsion of the French diplomatic mission in Pakistan.
According to Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton, the unrest over the expulsion of the French diplomatic mission could have significant consequences for Pakistan’s Christians.
“Christian could be symbolically targeted,” Todd Nettleton told Mission Network News. “One of the challenges for Christians in Pakistan is that they are often seen as a Western religion.”
While there have been no anti-Christian incidents reported in connection with the unrest, many Pakistani Christians remain on edge. Nettleton called for the Global Church to pray for Pakistani Christians to experience peace and security in the wake of the protests.