A municipal government in the Punjab province of Pakistan has destroyed the homes of 13 Christian families after they refused to become bonded laborers and work without pay.
According to a report from Pakistan Christian Post, the homes of Christian families were demolished by the local government under the pressure of other people from the village. The Christians worked at a brick kiln owned by Muslims.
"Houses of 13 Christian families have been demolished by the Town Municipal Administration Samundri under the pressure of the influential people of the village just because they refused to bonded labor without any penny," the report stated. "These poor Christian people work in the brick kilns."
The report also added that the influential Muslims wanted the government to build a hospital on the site of the demolished homes. However, the village already had a hospital, which had been transformed into cattle shed and lacked "boundary walls, window and doors."
"The lives of the Christians are in miserable conditions as the Muslims planned to disturb the lives of these marginalized Christians," the report stated. "There are 72 Christian families in the village."
According to Pakistan Christian Post, the Christians' houses were located in a corner of the village to prevent the mixing with "people of the majority religion."
The chairman of the Pakistan Minorities Teachers Association, Professor Anjum James Paul, condemned the municipal government for destroying the Christian homes.
"Shame on such elements who destroy the peace of mind and properties of the marginalized Christian community," Paul told Pakistan Christian Post. "The Christians are awakened now."
Paul added that even illiterate Christians have demanded for "minority elected members" as opposed to having the government select their representatives.
"Muslim members always say, 'Go to your member of the parliament,'" Paul said. "They do not take any interest in the minority issues and favor only their Muslim community."
Paul then told the Pakistan Christian Post that it was the state's responsibility "to provide shelter to all citizens as guaranteed in the constitutions of Pakistan."
"These helpless people need the support to construct their houses as they are leading their lives in severe cold without any shelter," he said. "Let us see when they are granted equal rights and shelter in their homeland."
In a separate incident in another village within the same area of Pakistan, Aleteia reported that Christians were forced to leave after a Christian, Shahab Masih, married a Muslim woman, Ruksana Kosar, which enraged the local Muslim population in the village and led to threats.
"When the news of the marriage was learned, the Muslims in Sahiwal attacked Shahab's family as well as other Christian families in the village," Aleteia's report stated. "The Muslims demanded that Ruksana be returned immediately, according to Sharia which prohibits Muslim women from marrying a man from another religion."
Aleteia later reported that local Pakistani police refused to help both the couple and the Christian families. Human rights activists have condemned this incident, noting that "members of the Muslim community are immune from all prosecution, yet there is a complete absence of protection for Christians."
According to the CIA World Factbook, Pakistan's Muslims make up about 96 percent of the population. This has led to religious minorities such as Christians and Hindus being targeted for persecution by the majority Muslim population.