Pakistan Bans 11 Christian TV Channels

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According to reports, all 11 of Pakistan’s Christian TV channels have been banned by Pakistan's television regulatory body due to a crackdown that began on October 15. Legally speaking, the government has a right to pull down channels without “landing rights,” the right to broadcast foreign TV content in Pakistan, or a PEMRA license. The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, or PEMRA, doesn’t grant landing rights for religious content and it allows the airing of Christian messages only for Christmas and Easter.

Landing rights aren’t granted for program that broadcast religious content. However, the Christian channels had been operating for more than two and a half decades, just as many Islamic channels still do. Christians make up one of the two largest (non-Muslim) religious minorities in Pakistan, along with Hindus. Christians in Pakistan generally face discrimination from both the populace and the government and this is just another proof in support of this fact.

PEMRA has now formally declared the Christian channels illegal and at least six cable operators have been arrested. All the Christian channels, except for two, are operated from outside Pakistan. Father Morris Jalal, founder and executive director of Catholic TV, was quoted as saying, "What is the future of church media in Pakistan? It is a very difficult time for us. We were just trying to reach our own community who are generally ignored by other TV channels."

According to Jalal’s speech to the U.K.’s Daily Express, Christians also have right to practice their religion, but if this fundamental right is banned, there is a persecution.

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Saleem Iqbal, director of Pakistan's oldest Christian satellite broadcaster, Isaac TV, hopes that Christians in Pakistan will still be able to watch their content on the Internet. He is optimistic and he believes that a ban on cable transmission will not stop people from watching Christian content.

There are numerous examples of discrimination towards Christians in Pakistan and surely one of the strictest is the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five who was sentenced to death in 2010 on accusations of blasphemy and now she is awaiting her appeal. One day in June 2009, she was picking berries with a group of Muslim women. The women got upset that she drank from the same water bowl as them. An argument ensued, and the women went to police and accused her of saying something along the lines of "My Christ died for me, what did Muhammad do for you?" She was promptly arrested.

There are about 2.8 million Christians in Pakistan.

Photo Credits: Wikimedia

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