After months of threatening the execution of Youcef Nadarkhani (left), the Iranian government is backing away from putting the Christian pastor to death, and is claiming that news stories of the plan to execute him were “unsubstantiated.”
While the world is distracted by the spectacle of the assassination of Osama bin Laden, what remains unchanged in the ongoing Jihad is the brutal persecution of Christians in Pakistan and throughout the Muslim world. While the death of Osama is being greeted throughout the West with celebration, the attempt by Jihadist thugs in Pakistan to murder a Christian pastor and his family is being ignored.
A further sign of what America’s “victory” in Iraq truly means was witnessed in a brutal incident of mass murder in the city of Tikrit. The latest 56 violent deaths in a nation which has witnessed over 100,000 such civilian deaths since 2003 may be the latest signal that the carnage in Iraq is far from at an end.
The latest victim of Jihadist violence in Pakistan is the man who was the only Christian serving in that nation’s government. Until his murder on March 2, Shahbaz Bhatti was Pakistan’s Minorities Minister; when he accepted that office in 2008 he said that he was doing so for the sake of the “oppressed, down-trodden and marginalized” of Pakistan. Now he has given his life while fulfilling that responsibility.
Even as Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani (picture, left), was declaring his nation’s harsh blasphemy laws to be “categorically excluded” from any possibility of reform, those very laws were allegedly being used once again to persecute a Christian woman for the sake of private gain.
The campaign in Pakistan against Parliamentarian Sherry Rehman is emphasizing the same brutal aspect of Islamic law which was written in blood at the time of the assassination of Governor Salman Taseer: Any politician who opposes the imposition of the death penalty for blasphemy has "proven" that they too are guilty of blasphemy.
While Islamist extremism is advancing in Pakistan and Egypt, one of the bastions of the Jihadist ideology is facing a challenge its mullahs are having a hard time countering: the Christian Church is growing in Iran.
A Pakistani lawmaker who had worked to reform her nation’s harsh blasphemy law has abandoned that effort, at least for the moment. Sherry Rehman, a member of Pakistan’s parliament, had authored a bill for the National Assembly that would have removed the death sentence as a form of punishment for blasphemy against Mohammed.
In the three weeks that have passed since the governor of Punjab was assassinated, it has become clear that Islamic extremists are gaining influence in Pakistan. Governor Salman Taseer was murdered on January 4 by one of his own bodyguards because he had voiced his opposition to the imposition of the death penalty in blasphemy cases, and had called for a presidential pardon for Asia Bibi, a Christian who had been unjustly convicted and sentenced to death for blasphemy.
As Pakistan slides further in the direction of Islamic extremism, and anti-Christian violence is on the rise in Iraq and Egypt, Congress may soon consider legislation which may increase the level of American intervention in such conflicts.