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4:20 PM, Nov 17, 2010 • By LELA GILBERT
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Asia Bibi’s case is reportedly the first conviction and death sentencing of a woman in Pakistan, under laws that declare blasphemy against Islam, the Koran or the Prophet Mohammed a capital crime. Nearly 30 people, at least a fourth of them Christians, have died because of blasphemy accusations since the laws went into effect in 1980. And vigilantes often take action while the state turns a blind eye. In July 2010, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that two Christian brothers accused of writing a blasphemous pamphlet critical of the Prophet Muhammad were shot dead outside a court in Punjab.

In 2010, Christians have been killed for their faith by Muslim terrorists in Nigeria, Pakistan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Philippines and Bangladesh. The threats against Christians in these countries continue to multiply. Al Shabab in Somalia, for example, has threatened to kill every Christian in the country. The number of Christians fleeing these nations and other Muslim lands is impossible to calculate. Many if not most such refugees leave in secret to protect their families and co-believers. Christians continue to flee from the Palestinian territories, where persecution persists, and the proximity to Israel leads to accusations of collaboration with “Zionists,” particularly in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

In fact, the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population is increasing is Israel.

The Catholic Bishops’ focus on Israel, rather than on radical Islam, as the root cause of abuses against Christians is both disingenuous and counterproductive. Without a clear and honest analysis that addresses radical Islam, there can be no effective policy enabling besieged Christians to live in peace and safety in their historic homelands.

Lela Gilbert is an Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute and has authored and co-authored numerous books, including the award-winning Blind Spot: When Journalists Don't Get Religion (Oxford University Press, 2008).  

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