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By Michael Terheyden

10/6/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

The wave of anti-Christian violence has not stopped in Pakistan. Abuses continue to be perpetrated in the name of the blasphemy law

Just about the time that the demonstrations over the infamous video clip about the prophet Muhammad seem to be dying down, I am reminded of the degradation that Christians suffer in Muslim countries and the hypocrisy of it all.

Pakistani Woman

Pakistani Woman


By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (

10/6/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Christian, Persecutions, Rape, Muslim, Video, Demonstrations, Pakistan, President Obama, Michael Terheyden

KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - Just about the time that the demonstrations over the infamous video clip about the prophet Muhammad seem to be dying down, I am reminded of the degradation that Christians suffer in Muslim countries and the hypocrisy of it all.

Ever since the attack on our embassy in Benghazi, Libya and the murder of four Americans on September 11, the news has been flooded with pictures of mobs burning American flags and effigies of President Obama throughout the Muslim world in protest of a video, which we are told hurts the feelings of the Muslim people.

Days after the "Love the Prophet Day" demonstrations in Pakistan, where the largest, most violent, week-long demonstrations occurred, I read a headline article in Asia News that says, "The wave of anti-Christian violence has not stopped in Pakistan. Abuses continue to be perpetrated in the name of the blasphemy law and acts of sexual violence are carried out against underage girls from religious minorities. . . ."

Allah Rakhi is 10 years old. She is from a poor Christian family in Yousafabad, Madina Town, Faisalabad in Pakistan. In late August she went to a store to sell some things. It was there she met Muhammad Nazir. He lured the trusting 10 year old to his house under the pretense that he was interested in buying her things, but the money was at his house. When Allah's father found her, she was unconscious on the floor, naked and bleeding. A porno movie was playing on the television.

The vicar general of the Diocese of Faisalabad, Father Khalid Rashid Asi, said, "The lack of justice in Pakistan means that the rich and powerful think that they can commit such acts and get away with it." If a Muslim girl had been raped, he went on to say, "It is likely that all the Christian homes in the area would have been torched."

According to another Asia News article, about 11:00 A.M. on September 20, 16-year-old Shumaila Masih was walking through the streets of Faisalabad when the Christian girl encountered three young Muslim men: Iftikhar Hussain, Shahid Munir and Muhammad Imran. They tried to get her to go with them but she refused, so they forced her. She cried for help as they dragged her through the streets, but no one helped her. Once they got her to Hussain's house, they took turns raping her until her father and cousins found her hours later and rescued her.

Father Bonnie Mendes, the former Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace for the Church in Pakistan, said she has not gotten justice because of her poverty. Echoing similar sentiments, Father Khalid Rashid noted that "religious minorities and marginalized groups are easy targets for wealthy landowners in rural areas." But Shumaila is not just another statistic to him: "I personally know the victim because I was pastor in that area. They are a very poor family, but rich in the Catholic faith. They deserve justice."

These are not isolated instances. The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child has documented numerous attacks against children in Faisalabad, Pakistan for the first five months of 2012. The breakdown for some of their statistics is as follows: at least 40 sexual assaults, 14 murders, 22 kidnappings, and six forced marriages.

In addition, when a woman is raped in Pakistan, she can be put in jail for "unlawful sex." Furthermore, her release from jail is contingent upon her agreeing to marry her rapist. To further complicate matters, according to sharia law, it is not lawful for a Muslim to marry a Christian. Therefore, if the victimized woman is a Christian, she must not only be willing to marry her rapist, she must also renounce her faith and convert to Islam.

Christian women and children do not live in peace in Pakistan; they live in fear. Their world is truly a "culture of death." When I read about the rapes of 10-year-old Allah Rakhi and 16-year-old Shumaila Masih at a time when Muslims are demonstrating and attacking American embassies because they claim their feelings have been hurt by a video, I see the height of hypocrisy, and it is evil!

As a Catholic, I believe that God created all people. I also believe that God loves us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die for our sake. Because of this belief, I see all human beings (born and unborn, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian, as well as disabled, dying and comatose) as having incomparable dignity and worth. All persons have a capacity to receive the gift of eternal life and love.

Thus, I do not hold ill will for the Muslim people. But I can not and will not ignore the hypocrisy and the evil that has been laid bare for all the world to see. I do not believe any decent person can ignore this evil without sacrificing part of their own humanity and their capacity for that which is divine and eternal.

Consequently, I am deeply concerned with the way President Obama has responded to the attacks on our embassies and the demonstrations. Many people have been concerned that by blaming the Libyan-embassy attack on the video and excessively condemning the video in relation to the attack, the President inadvertently helped Islamists use the video as an excuse to cause unrest throughout much of the Muslim world. In the process, the hidden evil associated with persecution and the rape of Christian girls was trivialized.

To make matters worse, according to articles by The Daily Beast and the Associated Press, the American embassy in Libya had been bombed prior to the anniversary of 9-11, and our people asked the State Department for increased security. It was refused. Yet the President repeatedly said the attack on the embassy that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans was caused by the video. It was not. It was almost certainly a premeditated attack by al Qaeda.

Some people are now suggesting that the attack on our embassy in Libya made President Obama's Middle-East policies look bad, so he lied about the attack to provide political cover while campaigning for re-election. When President Obama attacked Libya in order to unseat Muammar Gaddafi, he enabled Islamists to gain a foothold in parts of Libya, including al Qaeda. And it is believed that he either armed some Islamists or allowed them to hijack stockpiles of Gaddafi's armaments. It has even been suggested that these weapons may have been used in the attack on the embassy.

I do not expect the President of the United States to view the world through Catholic eyes, but I do expect him to act within the parameters of objective reality and common decency, and not to put politics or ambition above the lives of innocent children like Allah Rakhi and Shumaila Masih.

As Catholic Americans, we cannot turn our eyes from the hypocrisy and the evil that has been laid bare for us to see. Our brothers and sisters in Christ need our help. And we can give them that help by raising our voices in prayer and by making our voices heard when we vote in November.


Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.


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