Reading Corinthians in Karachi

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http://Tolerance%20seems%20to%20be%20in%20short%20supply%20%20in%20Pakistan%20these%20days.%20In%20the%20self-proclaimed%20"land%20of%20the%20pure,"%20a%20cleric%20%20last%20month%20accused%20a%20mentally%20disabled%20teenage%20girl%20of%20burning%20the%20%20Quran,%20sending%20her%20to%20jail%20and%20raising%20the%20possibility%20of%20%20the%20death%20penalty.%20This%20week,%20in%20a%20strange%20twist,%20the%20cleric%20was%20accused%20%20of%20fabricating%20the%20case,%20and%20now%20the%20charges%20may%20be%20dropped.%20All%20the%20same,%20the%20%20hubbub%20has%20brought%20much%20attention%20to%20a%20previously%20ignored%20segment%20of%20Pakistani%20%20society%20--%20Christians.%20%20%20%20%20%20About%201.5%20percent%20%20of%20Pakistanis%20identify%20%20as%20Christian%20--%20a%20little%20less%20than%203%20million%20people.%20Although%20some%20Pakistani%20Christians%20have%20risen%20to%20prominence%20in%20business%20and%20government,%20many%20%20have%20been%20politically%20and%20economically%20marginalized.%20They%20have%20faced%20worsening%20persecution%20over%20the%20last%20%2030%20years,%20with%20terrorist%20attacks%20on%20churches%20and%20schools%20killing%20%20dozens%20since%201989.%20Despite%20the%20violence,%20many%20%20have%20continued%20to%20practice%20their%20faith.%20%20%20%20%20%20Above,%20Pakistan%20Christians%20attend%20an%20%20Easter%20Sunday%20service%20at%20the%20Sacred%20Heart%20Church%20in%20Lahore%20on%20April%208,%202012.

Tolerance seems to be in short supply in Pakistan these days. In the self-proclaimed "land of the pure," a cleric last month accused a mentally disabled teenage girl of burning the Quran, sending her to jail and raising the possibility of the death penalty. This week, in a strange twist, the cleric was accused of fabricating the case, and now the charges may be dropped. All the same, the hubbub has brought much attention to a previously ignored segment of Pakistani society -- Christians.

About 1.5 percent of Pakistanis identify as Christian -- a little less than 3 million people. Although some Pakistani Christians have risen to prominence in business and government, many have been politically and economically marginalized. They have faced worsening persecution over the last 30 years, with terrorist attacks on churches and schools killing dozens since 1989. Despite the violence, many have continued to practice their faith.

Above, Pakistan Christians attend an Easter Sunday service at the Sacred Heart Church in Lahore on April 8, 2012.

http://All%20told,%20Christians%20and%20%20non-Muslim%20minorities%20form%20around%203%20percent%20of%20Pakistan's%20150-million%20person%20population.%20Above,%20Pakistani%20Christians%20offer%20prayers%20during%20a%20Christmas%20function%20at%20the%20cathedral%20in%20Lahore%20on%20Dec.%2020,%202009.

All told, Christians and non-Muslim minorities form around 3 percent of Pakistan's 150-million person population. Above, Pakistani Christians offer prayers during a Christmas function at the cathedral in Lahore on Dec. 20, 2009.

http://Pakistani%20Christians%20frequently%20earn%20less%20than%20Pakistan's%20%20minimum%20wage%20of%20$75%20a%20month,%20according%20to%20AFP.%20Many%20live%20in%20destitute%20slums,%20%20often%20called%20"Christian%20colonies."%20Here,%20Mingha%20Messih%20and%20his%20wife%20Ghris%20Bibi%20%20sit%20outside%20their%20house%20in%20an%20impoverished%20Christian%20district%20of%20Islamabad%20on%20%20Dec.%2031,%202009.

Pakistani Christians frequently earn less than Pakistan's minimum wage of $75 a month, according to AFP. Many live in destitute slums, often called "Christian colonies." Here, Mingha Messih and his wife Ghris Bibi sit outside their house in an impoverished Christian district of Islamabad on Dec. 31, 2009.

http://The%20accusations%20against%20the%20teenage%20girl%20are%20not%20the%20only%20%20recent%20inflamatory%20allegation%20targeting%20Christians.%20In%202009,%20another%20Christian%20was%20accused%20%20of%20defacing%20a%20copy%20of%20the%20Quran%20--%20a%20crime%20under%20Pakistan's%20blasphemy%20laws.%20%20Though%20that%20case%20was%20dismissed,%20members%20of%20a%20banned%20extremist%20group%20responded%20%20to%20the%20charges%20with%20violence,%20burning%20the%20homes%20of%20more%20than%20100%20Christians.%20Riots%20%20continued%20for%20several%20days%20afterward,%20leaving%20seven%20dead%20and%20sparking%20protests.%20Here,%20%20a%20child%20is%20held%20aloft%20as%20he%20chants%20during%20one%20of%20the%20protests%20in%20Islamabad%20on%20%20August%204,%202009.

The accusations against the teenage girl are not the only recent inflamatory allegation targeting Christians. In 2009, another Christian was accused of defacing a copy of the Quran -- a crime under Pakistan's blasphemy laws. Though that case was dismissed, members of a banned extremist group responded to the charges with violence, burning the homes of more than 100 Christians. Riots continued for several days afterward, leaving seven dead and sparking protests. Here, a child is held aloft as he chants during one of the protests in Islamabad on August 4, 2009.

http://Even%20prominent%20Christians%20have%20faced%20persecution.%20In%202011,%20%20Pakistan's%20Minority%20Affairs%20minister,%20Shahbaz%20Bhatti,%20was%20assassinated%20%20by%20militants%20in%20Islamabad.%20Bhatti,%20one%20of%20the%20few%20Christians%20in%20the%20Pakistani%20%20government,%20had%20been%20an%20outspoken%20critic%20of%20the%20country's%20blasphemy%20laws.%20Above,%20%20Pakistani%20Christians%20march%20during%20a%20rally%20in%20Islamabad%20following%20Bhatti's%20death%20%20on%20March%2012,%202011.

Even prominent Christians have faced persecution. In 2011, Pakistan's Minority Affairs minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, was assassinated by militants in Islamabad. Bhatti, one of the few Christians in the Pakistani government, had been an outspoken critic of the country's blasphemy laws. Above, Pakistani Christians march during a rally in Islamabad following Bhatti's death on March 12, 2011.

http://Christians%20in%20Pakistan%20have%20added%20their%20own%20cultural%20flair%20to%20conventional%20Christian%20songs%20and%20passages%20from%20the%20Bible,%20singing%20them%20in%20Punjabi%20and%20accompanying%20with%20traditional%20Pakistani%20musical%20instruments.%20Above,%20Pakistani%20Christians%20prays%20as%20they%20attend%20a%20special%20Good%20Friday%20service%20%20at%20the%20Saint%20Anthony%20Church%20in%20Lahore%20on%20April%202,%202010.

Christians in Pakistan have added their own cultural flair to conventional Christian songs and passages from the Bible, singing them in Punjabi and accompanying with traditional Pakistani musical instruments. Above, Pakistani Christians prays as they attend a special Good Friday service at the Saint Anthony Church in Lahore on April 2, 2010.

http://In%20the%20days%20leading%20up%20to%20Christmas%20and%20other%20major%20Christian%20holidays,%20Christian%20families%20in%20Lahore%20and%20Islamabad%20are%20%20full%20of%20activity,%20preparing%20festive%20food%20items%20and%20decorating%20homes.%20Above,%20Pakistani%20Christians%20offer%20prayers%20during%20a%20Christmas%20ceremony%20at%20the%20cathedral%20in%20Lahore%20on%20Dec.%2019,%202010.

In the days leading up to Christmas and other major Christian holidays, Christian families in Lahore and Islamabad are full of activity, preparing festive food items and decorating homes. Above, Pakistani Christians offer prayers during a Christmas ceremony at the cathedral in Lahore on Dec. 19, 2010.

http://Despite%20the%20violence,%20the%20Pakistani%20Christian%20community%20%20celebrates%20its%20holidays%20openly.%20Above,%20a%20group%20of%20Muslim%20women%20walk%20past%20a%20%20window%20display%20in%20Rawalpindi%20on%20Dec.%20%2021,%202006.

Despite the violence, the Pakistani Christian community celebrates its holidays openly. Above, a group of Muslim women walk past a window display in Rawalpindi on Dec. 21, 2006.

http://A%20Pakistani%20child%20stands%20in%20an%20Islamabad%20alley%20decorated%20for%20%20Christmas%20on%20Dec.%2024,%202009.

A Pakistani child stands in an Islamabad alley decorated for Christmas on Dec. 24, 2009.

http://Pakistani%20Christians%20buy%20Christmas%20gifts%20at%20a%20stall%20in%20%20Karachi%20on%20Dec.%2024,%202009.

Pakistani Christians buy Christmas gifts at a stall in Karachi on Dec. 24, 2009.

http://The%20conservative%20trends%20in%20Pakistan%20as%20%20a%20whole%20haven't%20escaped%20its%20Christian%20community.%20This%20Christmas%20service%20in%20%20Lahore%20in%202008%20was%20segregated,%20with%20women%20and%20children%20standing%20on%20side%20of%20the%20aisle%20and%20men%20on%20the%20other.

The conservative trends in Pakistan as a whole haven't escaped its Christian community. This Christmas service in Lahore in 2008 was segregated, with women and children standing on side of the aisle and men on the other.

http://Christian%20women%20have%20borne%20the%20brunt%20of%20persecution,%20%20as%20targets%20%20of%20forced%20abductions%20and%20marriages.%20Here,%20Pakistani%20Christian%20women%20pray%20under%20strands%20%20of%20tinsel%20hung%20from%20the%20columns%20of%20Cathedral%20Church%20in%20Lahore%20on%20Dec.%2025,%202008.

Christian women have borne the brunt of persecution, as targets of forced abductions and marriages. Here, Pakistani Christian women pray under strands of tinsel hung from the columns of Cathedral Church in Lahore on Dec. 25, 2008.

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