“For Christians Living In Rural Punjab, It Is Best To Abandon The Holy Cross And Biblical Names,” by Rebecca Gill, Friday Times, March 15, 2022:
wearing it because Muslims would ask weird questions on seeing it around
Punjab is a highly populated
province where most Christians reside. There are many Christian
institutes, schools, and churches in the region. Yet, the community
becomes a victim of persecution, blasphemy, abduction, killing, and
murder. The discrimination faced by Christians in rural Punjab is
Christians are the second largest minority group in Pakistan. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, 1.59
percent of the total population of Christians are living in Pakistan, a
majority are living in Punjab (2.31 percent) out of which 1.87 percent
live in Rural Punjab, and 3.27 percent live in the urban part of Punjab.
recently met some Christian families in Sheikhupura, Punjab, who
shockingly deny being Christians and identify as Muslims. They have
abandoned their Christian names and have adopted the Muslim ones. “I
changed my name because I faced discrimination by the instructors of
Islamiyat classes in school,” says forty-year-old Saba Kamran*. “I have
started to wear a hijab so people can’t find out more about me. My life
has become much easier,” she adds.
Her husband, Asmat Ullah*,
worked in a cement factory where all the employees were Muslims. He was
the only Christian. “I was always discriminated against because of my
faith, and some of the Muslim employees used to harass me and make
slogans to tease me. I resigned from the job in 2012,” he says. Thereafter,
Asmat Ullah adopted a Muslim lifestyle. “I wear shalwar kameez on Jumas
and pretend to be a ‘fake’ Muslim, so that my office staff feels I’m a
Saba and Asmat have given their three children Muslim
names. “We have strictly instructed them to never disclose their
religion,” he says.
“I was always discriminated against
because of my faith, and some of the Muslim employees used to harass me
and make slogans to tease me. I resigned from the job in 2012,” he says.
Sohail* started wearing an abaya and hijab when she was in school. “My
mother suggested I cover myself in school and college like other Muslim
girls. Since then my life has been free of discrimination and
harassment, as no one in my class knows I am a Christian. I take Islamic
Studies classes with them and pretend to be a Muslim,” she adds.
young Christian boy, who works in a clothing factory, says that he is
proud to be a Christian, “But because of my faith, I often face
challenges.” He used to wear a cross till some time ago.