bible blog 1162

This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:

Malala Yousafzai honoured by Harvard University for protest against Taliban Malala at Harvard

Matthew 8:18-27

New English Translation (NET)

Challenging Professed Followers

18 Now when Jesus saw a large crowd around him, he gave orders to go to the other side of the lake. 19 Then an expert in the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 Jesus said to him, “Foxes have dens, and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Stilling of a Storm

23 As he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And a great storm developed on the sea so that the waves began to swamp the boat. But he was asleep. 25 So they came and woke him up saying, “Lord, save us! We are about to die!” 26 But he said to them, “Why are you cowardly, you people of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it was dead calm. 27 And the men were amazed and said, “What sort of person is this? Even the winds and the sea obey him!”

Matthew cuts back on Mark’s account which he is using as his source. Mark’s is the more dramatic account, a kind of dream sequence that mimes Jesus conflict with evil, his death and the disciples’ fear, then his “awakening” that restores order and calm. Matthew pares down the detail so that it is less resonant and just continues the theme of risky discipleship in verses 18-22. The ship of faith may often struggle against evil forces; and Jesus may seem to be asleep; but disciples should remember that Jesus is Lord.

foxes have holes....

foxes have holes….

Scholars guess that much of the gospel material on discipleship is influenced by the struggles of the Christian communities (post 70CE)  to which the gospel writers belonged, when there were persecutions by the Roman state and a painful separation from the orthodox Jewish communities. From that perspective, Jesus’ teaching about the cost of discipleship would have seemed very relevant.  At times, the persecuted communities may have added to the remembered words of the earthly Jesus, words which their prophets gave them as from the risen Lord. Verses 18-22 however seem to me so radical that they could only have been spoken by Jesus himself. Matthew has quoted words about how God feeds the birds of the air. Now he quotes Jesus statement that the “Son of Man” (himself and his true followers) will not share in God’s goodness to his creatures but will lack all shelter. Because they represent God’s Way, they will live in the shadow of death, for which reason their task will be so urgent that they have to neglect the most sacred of human duties.

People who want to make Christian discipleship compatible with comfortable living ought to find these verses disturbing. Even the great calm of Jesus is promised only to those who have launched out on to the dangerous waters with him.

I have never suffered from my discipleship of Jesus. At times I have sidestepped when I saw trouble coming. At other times I have accepted the inconveniences of discipleship with a good humour. But thank goodness no serious threat to my well-being has ever come my way. If it had, I don’t know how I would have behaved. I’ve just been in correspondence with the British/ Pakistan Christian Association and have received their  report on the lives of Christian people in Pakistan. There Christian believers suffer unceasing pressure, daily humiliation, frequent and appalling violence, poor access to education, medicine and law. The recent suicide bombing of a church in Peshawar in which perhaps 150 people were killed and many more injured took place after police allowed the bombers past a checkpoint. 

These Christians are not convenient victims because they are citizens of a state which is an ally of the USA / UK in the spurious war against terror. Christian churches in these nations should petition their governments to insist that the Government of Pakistan provides adequate protection for Christians and all persecuted minorities in their country; and to refuse delivery of aid until there are signs of compliance. 

blood in the church courtyard after the bombing

blood in the church courtyard after the bombing

Above all, churches who enjoy safety and comfort should find practical ways of affirming their solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Pakistan who often have nowhere to lay their heads. Donations would be a good start. Here is a link to the British Pakistani Christian Association:

Here is a summary of their recent report. It makes hard reading.

Recently the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) released a 500+ page comprehensive report entitled ‘The Targeting of ‘Minority Others’ in Pakistan’, largely authored by BPCA researcher Nathanael Lewis and genocide expert Desmond Fernandes.    They have supplied this (shortened!) version of the report’s Executive summary to give a flavor of the report.  The say ‘The sprawling nature of the subject matter makes a traditional section by section breakdown impossible, so this is a somewhat scattergun summary that captures the main issues.’

 • Pakistan is the world’s fifth most populous country, and over its existence has shown an unbroken downward trend in the standard of its treatment of religious and other minorities.  The targeting of various minorities in Pakistan has grown through time, and in part can now be described as ‘genocidal’ in scope.

•Efforts to stem the flow of refugees and asylum seekers from Pakistan have led a number of Western countries, including the UK and Australia, into highly questionable relationships with Pakistani state agencies that are directly complicit in much of this targeted genocidal activity, notably the ISI.

• In the UK, the treatment of ‘failed’ asylum seekers held in administrative detention is particularly poor, with racist and degrading treatment, including elements of physical and mental torture and other inhumane treatment of already traumatized rape victims and children.  Reports include women stripped naked and filmed semi-nude by private security guards.

• Pakistani minority refugees represent a massively increasing portion of those seeking asylum in the UK, and the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has a very poor record in assessing these claims, with a high proportion of refusals being overturned at higher tribunals.  A number of their rejections contain bizarre and sometimes outright self-contradictory justifications for refusing asylum, and a consistent pattern has emerged of UKBA grossly over-estimating the integrity and moral rectitude of Pakistani police as a whole, over-estimating the viability of internal flight as an alternative to seeking asylum, combined with a decidedly rose-tinted perception of the realities of life for minorities in Pakistan.

• Widespread and compelling evidence shows Pakistan’s notorious ISI intelligence agency is engaged in torture, lengthy detention without trial, and starvation of prisoners, both directly and by proxy, through various extremist groups, including the Pakistani Taliban.  Pakistan’s High Court has tried to take them to task for these kinds of abuse several times recently.

• US and UK pressure on Pakistan’s authorities in the ‘War on Terror’ effectively make those nations morally complicit in the ISI’s nationwide illegal detention infrastructure.  For instance claims that MI5 officers on the ground were unaware of such mistreatment are directly and robustly contradicted by the testimony of ISI officials.

• On occasion, the UK authorities have functioned within the UK itself as an extension of the ISI’s state terror campaign,in one instance, continuing to prosecute two Balochi activists for activities that a new Pakistani administration has long since publicly said were baseless and politically motivated.

•The concept of Genocide need includes deliberate and systematic targeting of the intended victims’ language, culture, social life, history, language and religious and cultural buildings and shrines, as well as deliberate and systematic wounding of target populations physically and mentally, and practices such as forced prevention of birth and forced transfer of children.  Anything that is organized with the goal of annihilating a population or culture and the imposing of the oppressor’s culture can be considered ‘genocidal’.

•Journalists are targeted by extremist Islamic groups with the silent complicity of state agencies.

• The Pakistani military and intelligence forces are engaging in an ongoing genocidal campaign in Baluchistan, an originally autonomous state in the West of the country that was invaded and occupied by Pakistan after only a year in the late 1940’s.  There are reports of widespread bombardment of villages and civilians.  Currently, the state forces, as well as acting directly, appear to be using some Taliban-linked groups as proxies.  Teachers, lecturers, politicians, poets, journalists, musicians, philosophers, human rights activists and other intellectuals are ‘disappeared’, some never to be heard of again, others whose bodies appear weeks later bearing marks of extreme torture in many cases.  Evidence suggests a network of detainment centres where the tortures occur, and those who have escaped confirm torture, including rape, and the forcing of Baluchi men to rape Baluchi women prisoners on pain of having their own genitals cut off.  Pakistan also connives with Iran against their common ethnic foe, handing some prisoners over to Iran to be hanged.

• The conflict in the Afghanistan border zone raises particular issues with regard to minority rights due to the emergency laws in place in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Provincially / Partially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA).  Another significant human rights issue in the area is the ongoing CIA and US military run drone strikes which result in disproportionate loss of civilian life.

•On top of extremist infiltration of both the armed and security forces as well as the legal community, among others, blasphemy laws and other systematically discriminatory legislation – largely based on Sharia law – provides a framework to nurture and grow ongoing and intensifying attacks on religious minorities and on freedom of religion and expression, to the point that Pakistani society and state as a whole can now be unequivocally described as undergoing a process of Islamicisation.  For instance, women’s testimony is legally worth half that of a man, and a non-Muslims testimony is half that of a Muslim, resulting in absolute legal discrimination that cycles into and from deep societal discrimination.   Denial of justice to minorities, already entrenched in Pakistani society, is growing rapidly in intensity.  Blasphemy laws trigger religious terrorism, lynch mobs and societally instigated genocidal practices – both spontaneous and organized.  Attempts to reform the application of blasphemy laws to reduce such abuses have fundamentally failed to do so.  In this area the Pakistani government seems to have bent over backwards to accommodate the worst kinds of Islamic extremism, even including officially banned terrorist groups.  Virtually every case of blasphemy is either as a result of mental illness or is fraudulent, ensuing on some personal or business dispute, or made out of religious hatred or a desire for gaining property or for the purpose of religious or ethnic cleansing of a neighborhood.  Mobs will routinely call for those arrested for blasphemy to be handed over to be hanged, stoned or burnt alive.  In the last twelve months in two separate incidents in different regions, vagrants accused of blasphemy and arrested – both of them believed to be mentally ill Muslim men – were beaten and burnt alive by mobs who stormed police stations and dragged them out into the road.  There were several similar assaults on police stations by gun wielding mobs with the same intent on other occasions.

• Targeted persecution of Christians and other minorities occurs in every area of Pakistan, both geographically and socially.  Kidnap, rape, forced conversion and marriage of minority women and girls occurs on a daily basis, sometimes as part of the sex slave trade, with a smaller number of teenage and prepubescent boys also targeted in abuse rings and prostitution rackets.  Muslim clerics and Islamic courts approve, routinely illegally converting and marrying off such under-age girls, as converting someone to the ‘superior’ religion of Islam is deemed a virtue.  Non-Muslim women are seen as lawful prey.  Some  Islamicist groups in Pakistan even teach that any Muslim man who marries or even just rapes a non-Muslim women will be rewarded with seventy virgins in heaven forever, thus making the reward for rape equal to that of a suicide bomber or martyr.   Commercial sale of kidnapped women as ‘wives’, or giving them to supporters and followers as wives is sometimes practiced by quite senior state and national politicians.  Sexual harassment and rapes without forced marriage and conversion are endemic and an entrenched routine in some villages.  Police are nearly always complicit with the kidnappers to some level, sometimes actively covering their tracks, more often than not mocking, pressuring or beating up victim’s families, and sometimes participating in rape themselves.  Pakistani police can quite often be accurately described as criminal gangs themselves.  Those police that do genuinely try to uphold law and freedom are often sidelined or outmaneuvered or outgunned.  Particularly in Karachi, police can function as proxy armies for political groups.  In one case, the police burned a Christian man alive and raped his wife in front of their children.

• Attacks on and desecrations of minority religious buildings, statues, shrines, religious clerics and buildings are common.  Death threats, extortion, fraudulent seizure of land and property, often in collusion with authorities or police, are routine.  Intimidation of impoverished minorities into selling their properties at dirt-cheap prices is routine in both urban and rural areas, further continuing the enforced impoverishment of such minorities.  In the worst attacks well trained gunmen open fire on Christians in churches.  In one such instance the attackers included a squad of burqa-clad female extremists toting – and using – powerful weapons.  Mosque loudspeakers are very commonly used to whip up religious lynch mobs to enforce suppression of minorities, particularly Christians.

• Christian hospitals, churches and orphanages are often targeted for forcible or fraudulent acquisition, on occasion abetted by corrupt church leaders.

• Rape and sexual assault of largely poor young Christian nurses in the hospital system are routine, and cover-ups are standard.  Prosecutions are virtually unheard of, and as for successful prosecutions, well…….  Vulnerable minority patients are routinely targeted for conversion by Islamicist groups who roam some hospitals freely, searching for such victims.

Christians and other minorities are routinely pressured to convert, including by financial inducement, offers of women to marry, promise of employment or promotion and/or threats of being laid off, threats or force and torture by neighbors, police, religious school students, converted family members and employers.  Sometimes simply refusing to convert is deemed as worthy of death or other severe sanctions.  In one case, a Christian farm laborer refused pressure to convert, and as punishment his two year old daughter was taken out into the fields and raped so badly that even after five rounds of reconstructive surgery, she will never be able to marry or bear children, and has to urinate out of a surgically constructed opening on her stomach.  Whilst these operations were going on the family had to live underground for years, moving from house to house to avoid Islamic extremist clerics hunting them down to kill them for the blasphemous act of daring to refuse to convert, until finally, after special pleading to a Canadian government minister, they were allowed to claim asylum in Canada.

• Disruption of church services is fairly common.  In one case last year, Muslims burst into a church whilst the children were rehearsing Christmas carols, smashed the church up and beat the children for daring to disturb the Mosque prayers.  There have also been grenades thrown at a children’s Christmas service, where the local media then accused the parents of the injured children, many of whom were injured themselves, of throwing the grenades.

• Non-mainstream and dissident Muslims are also routinely targeted.

• Violence between Shia and Sunni communities, as is usual through the Middle East, is in large part due to extremist groups on either side that are waging a proxy war funded by Iran and Saudi Arabia (with some other Gulf State support) respectively.  Elements of Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies also sponsor extremist groups responsible for violence against ‘other’ communities.

• Ahmahdi’s are a particularly targeted group.  The notorious blasphemy laws include sections banning the group from describing themselves in Muslim terms, and the community is regularly faced with blasphemy charges, violent attacks and intense discrimination.  For instance, recently the Lahore Bar Association banned certain brands of drink from court premises because they are made by an Ahmahdi owned firm.

• During recent floods, religious minorities faced widespread discrimination, being denied food and medical treatment by both Mosque based and government distribution centres at many locations, unless they converted to Islam.  There are also reports of discrimination in the compensation and recovery processes, particularly pertaining to the granting of agricultural land to those whose fields had been destroyed.

• A number of measures designed to reduce discrimination in practice are subverted to perpetuate discrimination.   For instance, there are reports that land-mafia grabs evade rules designed to prevent communally owned minority property being seized by marrying minority girls and then using the marriage as a basis for seizing property by force or by legal stratagem.  Quotas designed to reserve 5% of government jobs for minorities to encourage minority graduates in practice perpetuate discrimination by forcing educated minority members into low-grade sanitation and cleaning jobs, whilst all too often illiterate Muslims are given supervisory posts.

• In addition, efforts to try and improve minority political representation by allowing minorities to have an extra vote for a certain number of minority seats designated in accordance with official figures for minority populations have had some impact, but have also raise issues.  There is considerable evidence to suggest that census figures have been systematically manipulated through the history of the Pakistani state to hide the true size of minorities in Pakistan, particularly the Christian population, and given the way minority voting is organized this effectively amounts to a partial political disenfranchisement of considerable parts of the population.  Perhaps more seriously, these minority candidates are selected by the political parties which are dominated by Muslim interests, not by free election.  This means that the candidates are beholden to their political sponsors more than the minority communities they are supposed to serve, leading to a widespread perception that many minority politicians – with a number of noble exceptions – are disconnected from the concerns of the community.

• The Presidency and several other top-level positions are explicitly denied to non-Muslims, and in most cases non-Muslims are not allowed to be judges, or else have extreme restrictions in what cases they are allowed to handle.

• Other groups targeted have included the Jewish population  – there are now no openly Jewish people in Pakistan, although there is believed to be a few hundred left who survive by pretending to be Christians or Muslims.

• Police are trained in Sharia laws and practice.  The legal code actually outlines laws of evidence follow Sharia principles, in that the testimony of a non-Muslim is worth half that of a Muslim, and that of a woman is half that of a man.  This is especially problematic in the frequent occurrence of cases of kidnap, rape, forced conversion and marriage of minority women and young girls to Muslim men.  Already intimidated by death threats or threats of blasphemy charges against their family, even when they do dare speak out, female minority victims of such crimes testimony is worth a quarter of their abusers, even if you leave aside the fact that their accusers are often powerful and influential businessmen or politicians, and have sympathetic Islamic scholars backing them up.  Hindu and Scheduled Caste women are particularly vulnerable as the state does not recognize their religious marriage ceremonies and contracts.  The police and legal system in Pakistan is notoriously corrupt, and as well as the normal societal prejudice and discrimination, minorities face an additional hurdle in that they are usually the poorest, and the least able to bribe their way to justice.

• In addition, traditional tribal elder councils are a parallel system of justice in Pakistan, to whom police often defer.  Islamic courts also have a huge influence on the practice of law and order, and this is enshrined in the constitution.

• Further discrimination is found over the issue of intra-faith marriage.   Because Islam is seen as the superior religion, it is perfectly acceptable for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman – the act of marriage is seen as automatically converting her to Islam in many circles – because it is the man (dominant) who is the Muslim and the more powerful in the relationship.  However, it is socially utterly anathema for a non-Muslim man to marry a Muslim woman as it is seen as a non-Muslim demonstrating dominance over a Muslim, and an affront both to Islam and the woman’s family, and it will usually occasion violence.  The whole non-Muslim community or family is held responsible, and the elopement almost automatically considered a kidnap.  Muslim women will sometimes demonstrate, saying it is literally impossible for a true Muslim woman to consider such a relationship.

• Domestic and sexual violence against women and children is extremely common, even normal and normative in much of Pakistani society.  Street children are almost always sexually abused within a couple of days of going on the streets, and the majority of both boys and girls on the street have been sexually abused by police officers.  Gangs often target children, especially minority children, for enforced prostitution.   For instance, this is a particular problem facing the beleaguered Christian slum of Essa Nagri in Karachi, a community which also faces regular violent attacks by Taliban groups.  Similarly, Muslim run brothels are routinely placed in minority neighborhoods, leading to sexual harassment of local woman, who are seen as ‘easy women’.  Another tactic is to induce poor minority men with beautiful wives or daughters into drugs, then blackmail them with threats of blasphemy or death into handing over the women into prostitution.

• Homosexuality is deeply frowned upon, although an underground community exists under the radar.  However, in parts of Pakistan there is a traditional acceptance of pederasty, and minority boys and teens are especially vulnerable to homosexual rape.  In Karachi, a number of Christian teens were seized in a series of incidents by police and never seen again, but the body of one was found the next day in the sewer, and after the Christian community forced police to conduct an autopsy, was found to have been raped and to have been killed by police bullets.    There is also a traditional class of transgender, known as hijras, who also face grave discrimination, although the government is taking some steps to recognize them.

• Hazaras, particularly the Shia Hazaras, who form the majority of this ethnic group, are often targeted, and their strikingly different appearance mean they can be easily identified.

• Sikh’s, Bahai’s, Zoroastrians, and traditional tribal religions also face similar general discrimination, as do many Afghan refugees.  Agnostics and atheists are known to exist in Pakistan, but keep generally underground and don’t express their beliefs openly.

• Some of those minorities who convert to Islam do so for safety and freedom from fear.  Some have gone on record as saying that, even though officially most Imam’s say this is not an acceptable reason for converting, and it can be safely assumed that fear and safety is at least a partial factor behind a good number of conversions where those converting do not openly state this.

• Some of these converts find they are still badly treated and so want to return to their original faith, but given that every school of Sharia law deems such apostasy as a capital crime, at least for men, this is problematic.  Any Muslim-born convert faces the same issue.  In this area, Pakistani law does not actually follow Sharia (although there was an attempt in 2006 to make it so, with death for male converts and imprisonment until ‘repentance’ for women, and all property and children removed to Muslim relatives or the state) but social attitudes generally do.   Converts from Islam face discrimination and violence, sometimes from their own families.  The convert can face being divorced and their children being permanently taken away from them, sometimes even by the courts.  Converts generally have to live underground and in fear of their lives.  In one instance, a convert from an extremist family was beaten badly, and hospitals completely refused him medical assistance out of fear of the extremists.

• Problems of discrimination against minorities, and against converts in particular, are made far worse by Pakistan’s system of ID cards which designate a persons’ religion.  This means that minority citizens can be easily identified (in fact, ID cards with race or religion or other such ID markers are seen by experts as one of the pre-conditions for future genocide).  The system is set up so that it is easy for someone to change their entry to Muslim, but impossible for someone to change their entry from Muslim to another religion, meaning that someone who calls themselves a Christian, but has Muslim on their ID card is easily identifiable as an apostate and vulnerable to being lynched.  Even when Muslim has been put on the ID card in error, it is virtually impossible to change, as one Christian politician with a Muslim sounding name found to his very great political detriment recently.

• Discrimination manifests in other areas of society.  In the prison system, time can be taken off sentences for successfully memorizing the Quran, but no such opportunity exists for minority members to gain freedom by memorizing their own sacred writings.  Similarly, extra marks are awarded in schools for memorizing Quranic material.

• Minority students can face a great deal of discrimination in the education system, even in private schools.  They can face harassment and pressure to convert from both teachers and fellow students.    Christians students are sometimes schooled by the parents never to mention Jesus or get into religious debates, or to give pat answers like ‘I am a Christian, I don’t know about your prophet, I can only talk about Jesus’.  Minority teachers are often afraid to teach material that has Islamic content in case they are accused of blasphemy.  Islamic content is not confined to religious studies, but spills over into a great many subjects.  Minority children are often forced to clean the toilets, and even do teachers personal cleaning, like their houses or underwear.  There are also reports of Christian and other minority students completing their school courses successfully but being denied their certificate of completion so that they cannot enter college education.

• Pakistani textbooks routinely overlook the contributions of minority communities and personalities to the history and social and cultural life of Pakistan, and use defamatory and untruthful language about the beliefs and practices of minority religions.   This attitude is shared by many teachers, and the problem appears to be getting worse, not better.  There is concern that the UK taxpayers money is being used to subsidize this discriminatory education via the literacy program sponsorship.

• Minorities also face discrimination in employment.  Even for menial jobs, they will usually have to pay a bribe, and then usually face considerable pressure to convert.  Some are denied promotion or fired after refusing to convert.  Nationalization programs forced many Christians in particular out of educated jobs, impoverishing the communities further, and trapping many in menial cleaning jobs.  Christians are routinely described as ‘chuhras’ or ‘sweepers’, a derogatory term equivalent to ‘dirty nigger’.   Their very touch is often seen as contaminating, and they and other minorities are sometimes required to have separate drinking and eating utensils and to drink from separate water containers.  Sanitation jobs are often advertised as for Christians / non-Muslims only.  Even though many in such jobs work for the state, they are deliberately denied civil servant status and associated benefits by the device of firing them and rehiring them at regular intervals so they are forever ‘temporary’ workers.  Another stratagem to stop minority workers gaining permanent status in state jobs is to accuse them of theft and get them fired.

• Many minority women work as maids in the homes of Muslim families, and they are pretty much always the first to be accused when items go missing.  They are also very vulnerable to rape and sexual assault by their male employers, as well as general abuse and maltreatment.  In one case, the entire Christian population in a village was only allowed to remain on the condition that the women maids did not withhold sex from their Muslim employers, and were expelled when some Christian men complained.

• In the private sector, minorities are often systematically denied full pay and otherwise treated in a discriminatory fashion.  Demanding full rights is likely to get you fired.  In one case, Christian brothers demanding full pay and other promised bonuses were fatally poisoned by their employer.  One corrupt bus company made it a practice to force minority staff to do illegal acts, to the point of trying to force Christian managers to assassinate former directors in dispute with the current directors, and it also made it a practice to fire those who refused and then bring charges of theft, blasphemy and other crimes to keep them quiet.

• In rural areas, employers are often also effectively landlords, making minorities especially vulnerable.  Employers often loan money to employees for necessities such as medical care or weddings.  It is common practice to charge high rates, but there is often one rate for Muslim employees and an exorbitantly higher rate for non-Muslims.  Changing of conditions and increasing interest rates by orders of magnitude are also common, and this discrimination is also practiced by general money lenders.  In rural areas, this has led to Christians and other minorities to be seen as slaves, who are sometimes ‘sold’ along with agricultural property and their debts to new owners.  In fact, in some cases, Muslim landlords and farmers expect and try to force Christians to work for free for them, even when they have no debt.  Refusal can have dire repercussions.  In some cases, outstanding loans have been ‘redeemed’ by kidnapping and raping the women in the family, and in a few cases partially met by forcing the ‘debtor’ at gunpoint to ‘donate’ a kidney to the growing black market organ donor business.

• The widespread practice of bonded labor facilitates this attitude.  Bonded labor is technically illegal, but is still widely practiced, particularly in the brick-making industry, and religious minorities form a high percentage of bonded laborers – effectively slaves.   Loans for medicine and survival turn into chains of servitude, with such victims being kept in private prisons often, given virtually no food, and families can be kept enslaved for whole many generations in this way.  In some cases, ‘owners’ – and this applies to more mainstream landlords who have given loans – have abused their position by seizing other family members or family property and not deducting it from the debt, or not accounting for pay withheld against the debt.

• Minority communities are often targeted economically.  Discrimination in and of itself has economic effects, but extremist groups also target minority groups for funds, extorting protection money under the guise of ‘jizya’, a Sharia concept whereby minority religions are deemed to enter into a covenant with the Islamic administration whereby they pay a tax that guarantees certain levels of religious freedom and safety.  Criminal gangs use this concept to justify their extortion of money from vulnerable minority communities.

•The concept of Jizya is closely linked to a concept of communal responsibility.  The actions of just one member that are considered to violate the agreement, the whole community is held responsible and liable for the consequences.

• Such a concept means that events, particularly blasphemy charges, ca be staged or manipulated to spark a kind of pogrom or economic warfare.  Other causes can include a minority religious person standing up for their rights.  In general, these attacks are more likely when a community is deemed to get above itself – either Christians attracting converts and interest from Muslims, or a community or family becoming more prosperous than the Muslims around them, thus upsetting the social order and ideology where Muslims must be dominant, or an Imam wanting to suppress a local church that has services at the same time as Muslim prayers.   Christian communities seem to be a particular target of these kinds of attack.  Typically, Islamic Madrassas and mosques will organize the attacks using mosque loudspeakers to call for Muslims to defend Islam against the infidels, and whole communities are burned, vandalized, looted and destroyed, with especial care taken to destroy all means of economic livelihood and wealth generation or retention, as well as religious books and items.

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