The World Council of Churches (WCC) has called for the repeal of Pakistan's controversial Blasphemy Laws following the riots in the town of Gojra in early August in which eight Christians were killed.
At least eight Christians were killed in violent attacks in the Punjab region of Pakistan last weekend. The first attack took place in Korian village on Friday 31 July when a mob of over 500 Muslims burnt down 60 houses belonging to Christians.
Several Christian families who have returned to their homes in Kandhamal district are pretending to be Hindus by leaving the Hindu saffron flag flying from their houses.
The flags were placed there by Hindu extremists during the anti-Christian violence last Autumn in which 50,000 Christians were forced to flee for their lives.
A mob of over 500 Muslims attacked the homes of 100 Christians in Bahmaniwala village (approx. 65km from the city of Lahore) earlier this month.
The attacks occurred after the local Muslic cleric Qari Lateef announced through the mosque loudspeaker that Christians of the village had committed blasphemy. He said that Christians had made derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad and therefore they were liable to death.
There is a spirit of uncertainty among the Christian community in Orissa following the announcement that federal paramilitary police are to withdraw from the state by the end of June.
Hector Aleem, 51, remains in Adiyala Jail in Rawalpindi, near Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad – despite being declared innocent of charges brought against under the Blasphemy Law.
The judge in the case, Mustafa Tanveer, dismissed his bail application at a court session in late April. A crowd of 180 Islamist protesters gathered at the courthouse in a move described by Hector's lawyer, Malik Tafik, as designed to intimidate the judge into finding Hector guilty.
India, the world’s largest democracy, is a melting pot of diversity of race, language and ethnicity. Christianity has a long and honoured history in the country with its involvement in charity, schools and hospitals. The atmosphere of religious tolerance in the country has been disrupted in recent years by the growth of Hindu nationalism, encapsulated in the slogan “One Nation, One Religion, One Culture”.
India's general election is being held over the coming four weeks and voting in the state of Orissa (scene of anti-Christian campaign of violence last year) begins tomorrow (16 April).
Continued threats from Hindu extremists to "convert or die" have prevented thousands of Christians from returning to their homes in Orissa following last year's violence.
Christians in Pakistan have voiced serious concerns about the decision of the government in February allowing Sharia (Islamic) laws to be enforced in the SWAT valley in North West Frontier Province, noting that while not many Christians live in the affected areas there are thousands that live nearby.