Religious persecution watchdog International Christian Concern (ICC) reported an incident in Pakistan involving Christians being denied humanitarian aid because of their religious identity.
Christian families seeking out food aid were told by a cleric at a local mosque that the food was only being distributed to Muslim families. This is the latest of reportedly several instances of targeted discrimination over aid distribution.
On Sunday, April 5, more than 100 Christian families from Sandha Kalan village, located in the Kasur district of Pakistan’s Punjab province, were excluded from a distribution of food aid. Shahakeel Ahmed, a local Muslim and human rights defender, told ICC that Sheikh Abdul Haleem Hamid, a cleric at the local mosque, decided that the food aid would be distributed to only Muslim families.
The aid, collected by a village management committee and mostly made up of foodstuffs, was reportedly designed to be distributed among all the deserving families of the village. However, when the aid was distributed, Sheikh Hamid did not allow even a single Christian family to receive aid.
In comments to ICC, Ahmed strongly condemned the “inhumane and discriminatory act” and announced they’re coordinating efforts to send food to these impoverished, “vulnerable” Christians.
Pakistan ranked 5th on Open Doors’ annual list of countries most difficult to be a practicing Christian. Open Doors reports that Christians in Pakistan “suffer from institutionalized discrimination, illustrated by the fact that occupations seen as low, dirty and derogatory are reserved for Christians by the authorities.” In addition, “many Christians are poor and some are victims of bonded labor. There are middle-class Christians as well, but this does not save them from being marginalized or persecuted.”
Please pray for Christians around the world who live in countries hostile to their faith!