03/24/2021 Canada (International Christian Concern) – Canada calls for the Resurrection of the Office of Religious Freedom. Proponents say the Liberal shutdown in Canada’s Parliament has left the country with no strong response to targeted kidnapping, rape, and forced conversions of young Christian and Hindu girls in Pakistan. The office closed in 2016 and was replaced by the new Human Rights and Freedoms Bureau, which the Liberal government said would allegedly include all human rights violations more closely.
Conservative Party Deputy Leader Candice Bergen said the atrocities in Pakistan require a stronger response from the liberal government, which has largely overlooked ongoing violations of religious freedom and minority rights in Pakistan.
“Reports from Pakistan that Christian and Hindu girls are kidnapped, raped, forced into marriages and forced to convert are deeply worrying and need to be addressed,” she said in an email to Canadian news outlet National Post.
Bergen called on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to re-establish the Office of Religious Freedom and work with Canadian allies to end targeted abuse of women and girls in Pakistan. Garnett Genuis, a Conservative MP, echoed similar views, saying that the complex dynamics of religious persecution are often overlooked by Western governments because religion is not as ingrained in the West as it is in places like Pakistan.
Many argue that the problem with the Canadian approach to the situation lies in misguided government priorities, which has underscored its commitment to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. However, experts have said that Pakistan is not about gender equality or women’s empowerment, but rather religious persecution based on deeply ingrained religious intolerance and accepted violence. The targeted rape, kidnapping, and forced conversions of over a thousand women and girls each year are merely symptoms of these ingrained ideas, which, according to Reverend Andrew Bennett, former Ambassador for the Office of Religious Freedom, are being reinforced by the Pakistani media and religious leaders, the people incite violence against religious minorities by pouring out what he calls “persecution ideology”.
Aaron Rhodes, President of the Forum on Religious Freedom in Europe, made a similar statement. “Such acts are committed by extremists who operate in an environment that generates extremism, does little to discourage or punish extremism, and indeed reward these acts of violence, as the perpetrators are often valued by the media and political leaders,” he said.
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