Religious Influences: Religious Freedom

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ProtestArticle 20 of Pakistan's Constitution states that public order and morality are subject to law, but "every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice and propagate his religion; and every religious denomination and every sect shall have the right to establish, maintain, and manage its religious institutions" [16]. Articles 21 and 22 go on to state that no person shall have to pay taxes for the advancement of another religion, be required to receive religious instruction or take part in a religious ceremony that is not of their own religion, and that no educational institution funded by public aid can deny admission based upon "race, religion, caste or place of birth" [17].

However, Pakistan is an Islamic state and all laws must be in accordance with the Qur'an. The result is laws that contridict each other and cause de facto discrimination against minority groups. For instance, Section 298(c) declares that Ahmadiyya Muslims are prohibited from "calling themselves Muslims, referring to their faith as Islam, preaching or propagating their faith, inviting others to accept the Ahmadi faith, or insulting the religious feelings of Muslims" [18]. A person can be jailed up to three years and in extreme cases be given the death penalty for violating Pakistan's blasphemy laws [19]. There are also laws propagating the spread of Islam which give greater rights to Muslims. Article 31, the Islamic Way of Life, states that in respect to Muslims, the government will "make the teaching of the Holy Qur'an and Islamic Studies compulsory... to promote unity and the observance of Islamic moral standards" [20].

A concern of the Pakistani government is the recent takeover by the Taliban in much of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The Taliban in these areas have imposed harsh religious laws that punish women and religious minorities. Extremist groups have blown-up businesses they believed to be anti-Islamic (e.g. a movie store) and have shot numerous Shi'a Muslims and other religious minority groups [21].

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