Pakistani bishop gives up citizenship to protest discrimination

Published October 1, 2006

A bishop in Pakistan has renounced his nationality in protest against discrimination and hatred he says is suffered by the minuscule Christian minority in the world’s second largest Muslim nation.

“In Pakistan, Christians, including me, are facing extreme hate, discrimination and detestation by Muslims. We are unwanted people in Pakistan,” Bishop Timotheus Nasir, who heads the United Presbyterian Church of Pakistan, wrote in an August letter to President Pervez Musharraf.

Bishop Nasir told the president: “It is not possible for me to carry the burden of my limited, crippled and meaningless citizenship of your Pakistan. Therefore, I surrender my Pakistani citizenship.” Along with the letter, Bishop Nasir attached a copy of his National Identity Card requesting the president to give him and his family a “Non-Pakistani Resident” identity card. If this request cannot be accepted, Bishop Nasir asked the government to declare him “persona non grata” and to expel him to a non-Muslim country so that “I don’t face any more insults of my religion, the Holy Bible and the holy personage of Christ.”

Bishop Nasir said in an interview with ENI, “there was no other option left … The persecution of the Christians has been worsening in recent years. But the government is doing nothing to improve the situation.”

Bishop Nasir is a retired army major who heads the UPCP, which is not a member of the National Council of Churches of Pakistan, which groups the four major Protestant churches.

Churches have been burnt down and Christians face discrimination “at all levels and even physical attacks,” lamented Bishop Nasir, who says his denomination has more than 100,000 members. Christians are said to number up to three million among Pakistan’s 162 million people – more than 95 per cent of whom are Muslims.


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