Naeem Rafiq is Christian. His wife is muslim. That love proved too dangerous in Pakistan
Naeem Rafiq came from Pakistan to Denmark with his two daughters and wife in 2011. Naeem, from a Christian family, has been married for eight years to his Muslim wife Asma. They both have looked death in the eyes many times because of the love they have for each other and the main reason for their problems is that they are from different religions.
“I married a Muslim woman in Pakistan, which caused me problems every day and many times there were attempts on my life and the lives of my family but thanks to God we were saved and managed to flee the country. I can remember once or twice when we were stopped in the center of the marketplace and they stoned my car in front of the police. No one one did anything. Second incident was when they threw a treat letter in my house that they would kill me and my whole family. We were unable to go to work or send my daughter to school for weeks until we arrived in Denmark”
Why do you think this happened to you?
“Christians in Pakistan have no rights. They are not understood to be human. They cannot live by their own free will because there is always a sword hanging over their heads that is known as 295 B & C (the Pakistani blasphemy laws, ED). Anyone who tries to live their lives freely will have this sword dropped on them. Soon false allegations will be made against their families and they will be destroyed.”
How do Pakistani minority groups and leaders deal with the treatment of Christians?
“The Pakistani minority leaders are puppets to the higher ranking Muslim party leaders. When they come into power they will only talk about the current affairs of the country. They will refuse to discuss the situation of minorities and God forbid if they do, than they are removed from the government party or killed. They never talk about the Pakistani minority problems”.
How can Christians live a happy and normal life in Pakistan?
“Christians in Pakistan can never be happy or safe in Pakistan. Their only chance could be if they converted to Islam which many Christians have done in the past to save themselves and their families from persecution. Or they can flee the country”.
Naeem was granted asylum with the help of the United Nations after receiving rejections from Danish immigration and the board of refugees.
Even with all of the problems that Naeem and his family continually face in their daily lives, he spends a lot of time reflecting on all of the Christians back in Pakistan and the persecution that they face day to day.
295 B & C are Blasphemy laws that can sentence a person to death or life imprisonment without bail. If a person is accused of speaking abruptly about their Holy Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him (PBUH). Or if anyone speaks abruptly about the Holy Quran. In many cases it could be if a Christian man marries a Muslim man.
Naeem continued, “ I would like to make an appeal to the European Union saying that any Christians who come from Pakistan should be granted asylum according to human rights and religious rights laws. In Pakistan minorities are tormented and then trapped in different kinds of problems – the biggest example is 295 B & C which does not allow minorities to live a normal life. Christians are often forced to convert to Islam or flee from their homes. Minorities in Pakistan are even being killed and there is no one to question the murders.”
Then Naeem spoke about the Christians who managed to escape from the persecution of these laws. They would come to Europe with just the clothes on their backs after spending all of their money on smuggling agents. Yet, if caught, their stories of oppression are not believed and they are often deported back to the same peril from which they had risked their lives to escape.
At the end of the interview, I asked Naeem a series of questions regarding his life in Pakistan as a Christian man and his perspective on the minority situation.
What kind of difficulties did you face in Pakistan while living there?
I have two clear examples for you: One is the late minority leader (may his soul rest in peace) Shahbaz Bhatti who wanted the world to know about the persecution of Christians in Pakistan but he was killed by a Taliban member. Second is the late Governor of Punjab (may his soul rest in peace) Salman Taseer who was killed by his own guard because he was defending Asiya Bibi, a jailed Christian woman, and he spoke about changing the blasphemy law 295 B & C, which falls under sharia law. Abdul Qadir, the man who killed the Governor of Punjab, is still in jail though there are hundreds of lawyers who want to fight for his release. After he assassinated Governor Taseer in the open streets of Islamabad, less than one kilometer from the Parliament, lawyers and pedestrians came over and put flowers on him. Qadir was congratulated for killing Governor Taseer and he still has not been officially convicted.”
As an example: On the 6th or 7th of March 2014, a young Christian man named Sabbir Mashi was arrested for robbery and was beaten to death. The Pakistani media did not acknowledge this incident, not even a small line in the newspaper or on TV. What justice can we expect from a country like this where the cancellation of a cricketer’s license is considered breaking news yet a young man losing his life has no effect on the media? What kind of justice is this?
Another horrific example of the persecution of Christians can be seen from 2005. In Rawalpindi, a 38-year-old Christian man named Arshed Masih began working for a rich Pakistani businessman. He was a driver and his wife was the maid of the house. The employer demanded that the couple convert to Islam.
Police were sent to the home and proceeded to rape Arshed’s wife in front of her children and then set Arshed on fire.”
What kind of life can Christians lead in a country like Pakistan? Europe and the United Nations are overlooking the problems that the Pakistani Christians are facing.