Pakistani officials have banned 11 Christian television channels, leaving the country’s 2.8 million Christians with no public media presence for the first time in nearly two decades.
According to India Today, the Pakistani Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) this week banned the religious stations after accusing them of being “illegal” and “not having permission” to broadcast.
The report notes that most pro-Christian channels in Pakistan are based overseas since because PEMRA does not release licenses for religious broadcasting, and only allows the airing of Christian messages for Christmas and Easter.
Father Morris Jalal, who founded the now-illegal Catholic TV, condemned the ban and urged the national community to speak out against what he referred to as a “sweeping attack on religious freedom”.
“As citizens, Christians have the right to practice their religion, but if they block you, it means not all citizens are equal,” he said, according to Express UK. “We must protest this decision, and we hope the West does it as well.”
In addition to implementing laws intended to restrict the freedom of believers, Pakistan also enforces severe blasphemy laws, which have led to the lynching and jailing of increasing numbers of Christians.
Recently, Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore – the city where 42 adult Christians and 30 children were killed in a suicide blast while celebrating Easter last March – said that Christians were being wrongly accused of blasphemy at a rate of about one every two weeks.
“The blasphemy law is being misused against Christians and that must stop,” he said, and emphasised that the solution to ongoing persecution against believers was dialogue with the Muslim majority.
Speaking at a meeting on October 11th, the Archbishop revealed that he and other Christians recently met with senior Muslim scholars and imams in the hope of achieving change.
“We explained that [the meetings] were not to convert anybody, and it was not about a Western agenda, but to learn from one another – what you believe and what we believe,” Archbishop Shaw said.
“This is the beginning,” he continued. “But one thing is vital for this type of dialogue, and that is we should know what we believe. We must know who Christ is and what his teachings are.”
- Pray for Christians in Pakistan as they come under increasing pressure and oppression.
- Pray for this decision to close the Christian TV stations to be reversed, and for Pakistani Christians to have free access to programming, Bibles, and good discipleship and training materials.
- Pray for those who are being help on blasphemy charges, that these charges will be dropped and they will be able to return home to their families. Pray too for no recriminations from Muslim communities against their families.
- Pray for a rescinding of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan.
- Pray for good dialogue between Christian and Muslim leaders in Pakistan, to bring understanding between them and to pave the way to freedom of worship and belief for all.
Psalm 103 vs 6: “The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.”
Source: http://www.gospelherald.com/articles, http://www.persecution.org