ASIA/PAKISTAN - A documentary about Christians? No thanks: foreign journalists unwelcomed

Islamabad (Fides Service) - Visa applications have been lying in the folders for several months. The Pakistani government shows they do not like foreign journalists who want to document and make inquiries about the lives of Christians in Pakistan, delaying and in fact denying - without giving any reasons - entry visas in the country. This is what Fides learns from some Italian journalists who for months have applied to enter the country in order to carry out service information on the life of the Christian community. It is possible that the same treatment is reserved for journalists from other countries, observe Fides diplomatic sources.The case of Asia Bibi (Christian unjustly sentenced to death for blasphemy), the recent case of Farah Hatim (the Catholic girl kidnapped and forcibly Islamized), the assassination of Minister Shabhaz Bhatti in recent months and the great attention given by the international community , are causing damage to the image of the Pakistani government - and therefore some discomfort - clearly because they raise the issue of respect for human rights and, in particular, the rights of religious minorities. This is why the current approach is to prevent or hinder in any way communication professionals who, through their work are not free from risks, intend to remain vigilant on these sensitive issues.To create a tightening of visa measures is also a recent publishing event: the Pakistani government did not like the work of the freelance French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet that, after spending some months in the country, in collaboration with some local TV stations, once returned back home wrote the book “blasphemous”, which tells the story of Asia Bibi. The book was published in France but also in Great Britain, in Italy and other European countries, attracting great attention. In the book Asia says: "I am just a woman in the ocean of women of this world, but I am convinced that my calvary is a mirror of many others. I wish my torturers opened their eyes and that the situation of my country changed ". The wish expressed by Asia Bibi is shared - note sources of Fides - by many Pakistani Christians who feel “second class citizens”: ask the government for equality and equal dignity, and to continue to count on the help of the international community. In particular it is hoped that economic aid and cooperation for the Pakistani government by the Western governments are somehow “conditioned” to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country, especially for minorities. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 06/25/2011)

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