Pakistani Christians were reported to be worried about the potential persecution that would occur when a French Ambassador would be expelled based on calls of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan supporters.
The International Christian Concern said the political unrest in Pakistan could lead to persecution of Christians there after the TLP supporters have been protesting violently in the streets for days. The protest took place after the government arrested the TLP founder and leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi. The TLP is said to put to death anyone accused of blasphemy. The French ambassador is being pushed to be expelled from Pakistan by the TLP after stating matters that they found blasphemous.
According to Mission Network News, the TLP held 11 police officers as hostages that they released later on after negotiations with the government. TLP has been pressuring the government to remove the French diplomat but the latter refused to do so. The TLP's violent protests has already left two people dead.
France 24, meanwhile, said in its report that the TLP gave the government until April 20 to expulse the French ambassador. TLP has been conducting for months anti-France campaigns brought by the republication of cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad in the Charlie Hebdo magazine.
Mission News Network pointed out that Christians in Pakistan could be caught in the middle of this conflict since the TLP have "animosity" towards Western ideas and actually regard Christianity as one of them. MNN cited an interview of The Voice Of The Martyrs Media Relations And Message Integration Chief Todd Nettleton on the Pakistani Christians being in danger of persecution from all the unrest caused by TLP.
"Christians [could be] symbolically targeted in this unrest and in the violence that's going on. One of the challenges for Christians in Pakistan is that they are often seen as a Western religion," Nettleton said.
"They (TLP) have animosity towards Western ideas, so Christians could potentially be caught in the crossfire of that, or they could be targeted," he added.
"Pray that God will protect and watch over and encourage them during this time. Pray for peace to be restored in the streets of Pakistan. The second thing we can do is make sure our government leaders know that we care about religious freedom; we care about Pakistan protecting their Christian population," he stressed.
Nettleton pointed out that elected officials in America work for the Christians there even "at least in theory" unlike in Pakistan and this is why he often reminds American Christians o the need to let officials know "what our priorities are."
The International Christian Concern added that there are no reported incidents against Christians as of date with regards to the unrest but pointed out the need to pray for Pakistani Christians as called for by Nettleton.
UCA News previously reported that Pakistani Christians have experienced different treatments while working in Muslim offices where they are separated in glasses.
In addition, local Christians are actually referred to using a racial and abusive term reserved for sanitation workers. "Churha," which meant "low caste," is the term referred to local Christians. Despite local prejudices, local Christians reach out to Pakistani Muslims by engaging in "table friendships" with them during special seasons such as Lent.