Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, joined SiriusXM host Stephen K. Bannon on Breitbart News Daily Monday morning to discuss the horrific massacre of Christians in Pakistan on Easter Sunday. Shea is the author of Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians.
“On Easter, a local faction of the Taliban attacked a park where Christians were celebrating Easter by picnicking,” as Shea described the atrocity. “These are mainly poor people. Only about one percent, less than two percent of Pakistan’s population are Christians, but the Taliban is determined to eliminate them, and they attacked them with suicide bombers while they were picnicking. They claim responsibility for it, and made clear that they were deliberately targeting Christians for celebrating Easter.”
“The government did give them the day off from work,” Shea said of the celebration in the park. “This was in Punjab. This wasn’t in some backwater village. This was actually in the largest province in Lahore, the major cosmopolitan city of Lahore, in Punjab province.”
She recalled how the governor of Punjab was murdered in 2011 by one of his own bodyguards, for criticizing the Islamist blasphemy law, which “helps to fuel and inflame extremism in Pakistan,” and that when the murderer was convicted, lawyers from the local bar association showered him with rose petals. A conviction and death sentence against a Christian woman under the blasphemy law was the outrage that led the late governor to speak out. Seven years after she was convicted, that woman, Aasia Noreen (also known as Asia Bibi) remains in prison, while the governor’s murderer was executed last month, prompting a backlash from Muslim extremists. Shea noted that even rumors of blasphemy have led to mob violence and suicide bombings.
“This is a huge problem, and it’s more than a human rights problem, because Pakistan is the second-largest Muslim country in the world, after Indonesia,” she said. “It has 190 million people, and it has the nuclear bomb. So we are seeing an Islamization of this country, and it’s in large part due to this culture of blasphemy, where blasphemy is punished by vigilantes as well as the State, carries the death penalty, and there’s absolutely no due process. You don’t need evidence. To repeat the evidence in court, in fact, is to repeat the blasphemy, so there is no evidence.”
There also aren’t many acquittals, as Shea noted judges who acquit on blasphemy charges have been driven into hiding with death threats. She noted Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have been used to attack moderate Muslims, Hindus, journalists, and educators, as well as Christians. In essence, every moderating force in society has been crushed, allowing “extremist radical Islamists to control the discourse and learning within this country.”
“You’re seeing a Talibanization, if you will, of the entire country,” Shea warned.
She expected no significant pushback against these extremists from the government after the Easter bombing, as there has been no strong response after many previous Islamist atrocities. Shea argued that the wheels of Talibanization in Pakistan were greased with a good deal of political corruption, as some of the flimsier accusations of “blasphemy” leading to mob violence were just thinly-veiled efforts to seize property by killing off the rightful owners.
“Of course, this is the Taliban who deliberately wants to purify the land for Islam, to eradicate Christians, and that’s apparently the motive,” she said.
Bannon noted that American taxpayers thought the Taliban had been defeated, and should be horrified to learn they’re not only making progress toward recapturing Afghanistan, but transforming Pakistani society as well.
Shea said she believes we are seeing “a mainstreaming of the Taliban ideology.” She noted the leaders of the major moderate Sunni Muslim group in Pakistan had been assassinated – for advocating women’s rights, among other reasons.
And yet, Shea accused American politicians of assisting with this mainstreaming of Taliban ideology, most notably Hillary Clinton, who joined with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to sponsor a Pakistani initiative to “stop the defamation of Islam.”
“This ties into the Benghazi video that ‘insulted Mohammed,’” Shea explained, referring to the video falsely blamed by Clinton and President Barack Obama for the terrorist attack that killed four Americans in 2012.
“Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, partnered with Pakistan to introduce into the U.N. – and also to continue outside the U.N.- this sort of trans-national initiative, called the Istanbul Process, to really stop and punish, or prevent, the ‘defamation of Islam.’ The ‘defamation of Islam’ is another term for blasphemy against Islam,” she said.
Shea noted that moderate Islamic scholars have agreed that “the more you impose blasphemy laws, the more it feeds a sense of grievance, and demands more, and hands the discourse over to the extremists, and that’s what’s happening in Pakistan today.”
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You can listen to the full interview with Nina Shea below: