CESNUR - Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni diretto da Massimo Introvigne
www.cesnur.org

CESNUR 2005 International Conference
June 2-5, 2005 – Palermo, Sicily
Religious Movements, Globalization and Conflict: Transnational Perspectives

Problems of Religious Pluralism in China and Pakistan

Irene Briones (Complutense University of Madrid)

A paper presented at the 2005 CESNUR Conference in Palermo, Sicily. Preliminary version – do not reproduce or quote without the consent of the author.

The global social situation enforces to revise the political attitude on human rights. The reports of religious freedom reveal a deep worry about the violation of one the most important liberties for the mankind. The analysis of the legal framework and the exercise of the religious freedom in a society is an essential requirement to know the real health of the human rights in general.

I have chosen two countries where the religious freedom is being restricted seriously, China and Pakistan. In a geopolitical situation very different, with an opposite political approach, as a communist government and a confessional State, they have reached the same result, a dangerous and unfair combination of religion and violence.

I. CHINA.

A. Religions in China

China has a population of 1’3 billion. There are more than 200 million of people are adhered to any religion. There are five officially recognized religions: Catholicism, Buddhism, Islamism, Taoism and Confucianism.

Popular Chinese religions are also professed, their believers adore Gods, heroes and local ancestors. These religions are practised by hundreds of people, who mix these elements with  Buddhism, Taoism and other religions.

This is the religious Demography. Some people regard Confucianism and Taoism as religions, while others regard them as solely philosophies of life[1].

Buddhism was introduced from India during the Han dynasty and has been very popular among Chinese of all walks of life, admired by commoners, and sponsored by emperors. A Buddhist would have no trouble in viewing Jesus Christ as a Bodhisattva and incorporating Christian concepts into Buddhism.

Taoism is a Chinese indigenous religion. Its primary written work, the Dao De Jing is attributed to Lao zi. The philosophy is focused on “the way”, an understanding of which can be likened to recognising the true nature of the universe.

Islam was brought into China via the Silk Road in the 7th century. It is practised now by minority groups.

Christianity was spread by European or Middle-Eastern travellers who came to China in AD 635 (Annus Domini), as documented by the Nestorian Stone in Xi’an.

In 1289, Franciscan friars initiated mission work in China. This mission collapsed in 1368, as the Ming Dynasty abolished Christianity in China.

The first Jesuit attempt to reach China was made in 1552 by Francis Xavier. In 1582, Jesuits once again initiated mission work in China, introducing Western science, mathematics, and astronomy. One of these missionaries was Matteo Ricci.

There was in the 18th century a great controversy and a lot of difficulties with the idolatry to the Emperor. However, during 1840s, foreign missionaries spread Christianity rapidly, although the Christians have been persecuted throughout the 20th century, especially during the Cultural Revolution.

 

B.  Legal System of religious Freedom

1. Constitutional System.

The Constitution of People’s Republic of China, regardless official state Policy, establishes in article 33 that all citizens of the Republic of China,  are equal before the law.

Religion is regulated in the article 36. This provision declares that citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization, or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not believe in any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in.

Theoretically, the State protects normal religious activities. The restrictions of the religious freedom are imposed in the same Constitution, when exacts that no one may make use of religion to engage the disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination. In this words, we can check a hostile attitude towards religion.

The religious believers can not invade the educational system, and this means that parents don’t have the right to educate their children according to their believes. The state promotes the all-round moral development of children (art. 46), but the religion can not be a part of the education.

If any foreign domination is not well received in China, this circumstance avoids the entrance in the country of other religious communities or more power for the religions already established inside the territory.

 

2. Unconstitutional reality

The State Administration created a State Counsel in order to supervise and value the religious activities.

In the institutional aspect of the religious freedom, we should add that a religious group must be recognized so, and need to carry out six requirements: the ownership of a head office; believers attending religious services; a structure of government; the rules of the organizations; a minimum number of followers; a legal way to be a member of the religious group.

The Counsel hasn’t recognized any Protestantism denominations. Some of the recognized religions suffer serious restrictions too. The sensibility towards  Muslims is variable, depending on the area where they are settled can be more or less restricted. The Catholic People have also experienced some restrictions, so it’s forbidden to celebrate religious liturgies, and practise the own cult, some churches have been destroyed, and the Constitution is violated because of the catholic communities don’t enjoy freedom of meeting and association.

In general, the protection of religious freedom and conscience is poor enough, and in special for the religions that haven’t been legally recognized, except in Taiwan and Hong Kong, where we could be more optimistic on human rights. Focusing on human rights, Bernardo Cervellera, director of AsiaNews, declared in an interview, that religious freedom is not in advance, and asked occidental people with businesses in China, the engagement and participation in the construction of a new civilization based in the human dignity[2].

The International Religious Freedom Annual Report 2004, advices about the serious restrictions of the religious freedom in China, in fact, for the last four years, the Commission has recommended that China is as “country of particular concern” (CPC).

 

3. Chinese legislative Resolution Banning Cults

 

The Chinese government has expanded a campaign against the evil cults and heretical sects. One of the first victims was the Falun Gong organization, the government declared that Falun Gong is a group like an evil cult in 1999. So a lot of followers of this group have been sent to labour camps, without a previous trial, or have been interned in mental health centres for their reeducation.

The governmental campaign is applied to maintain social stability, protect the interests of the people, safeguard reform and opening up and the construction of a modern socialist country, it is then necessary to ban heretic cult organizations and prevent and punish cult activities. With this goals, the new Chinese legislative Resolution Banning Cults is made [3].

 This Resolution was followed by Official guidelines for Enforcement[4]. These guidelines were judicial explanations on crimes by cults. The judicial interpretation about Article 300 in the Criminal Law referred to those illegal groups that have been found using religion, or other things as a camouflage, deifying their leading members, recruiting and controlling their members and deceiving people by moulding and spreading superstitious ideas, and endangering society.

Section 1 of Article 300 in the Criminal Law stipulates that "those who organize superstitious sects and secret societies or use superstition to violate laws or administrative regulations are subject to three to seven years imprisonment, and those whose cases are extremely serious are subject to seven years imprisonment or more."

Under Section 2 and 3 of the article, those who set up or use superstitious sects and secret societies or superstition to deceive people and cause death of others are subject to the same penalties.

Under the two sections[5], those who organize and use superstitious sects, secret societies or superstitions to sexually exploit women or swindle money or property will be punished according to Criminal Law articles on rape and swindling.

According to the judicial explanations, a case is regarded as "serious" if it involves any of the following actions while conducting the activities in the previous article:

I. Setting up organizations or recruiting members across provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities that are under the direct administration of the central government;

II. Collaborating with overseas groups, organizations and individuals for sect-related activities;

III. Publishing, printing, duplicating and distributing, either in terms of volumes or sales values, a large amount of publications spreading fallacious ideas and printing symbols of sects;

IV. Instigating, deceiving or organizing their members or others to violate State laws, administrative regulations, and resulting in serious consequences.

Organizing or using superstitious sects, secret societies or superstition to deceive people which may lead to their death in Section 2 and 3 of Article 300, refers to the cases of establishing or using sects to mould, spread superstition or fallacies, deceiving their members or others to practice fast, inflict wounds upon themselves, or prevent patients from taking normal medical treatment and resulting in their illness or death.

Moreover, these things will be considered a "serious offence" if all of them occurs at the same time:

I. Causing three deaths or more;

II. Causing fewer than three deaths, but injuring many people;

III. Those who have received criminal or administrative penalties for engaging in cult activities continue to establish or use sects to deceive people and result in deaths;

VI. Causing other special serious consequences like sexually exploit women or underage girls.

 

4. Report from the Commission of government in USA

The Commission of government in USA has been very active in its works to get a change in this situation. In March and July of 2003, that Commission organized two round tables about religion in China. In this event, representatives of the Administration, members of Congress, academic experts, leaders of religious groups and non governmental organizations were gathered.

It has also criticized the amendment of article 23 in the Constitution of Hong Kong, because the autonomy of Hong Kong remains undetermined.

The Assembly of representatives in that Commission of human rights issued the resolution H. 530, and was urged to take other resolution in the session 60 to make a call to order to China because of the violations of human rights, even the oppression. Later the commission met with Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, and Muslim leaders and several spirituals movements, including Falun Gong.

After this itinerary, it was recommended to China as CPC, the Commission proposed the government of USA some matters, and some of them are: A. Secure the efforts to promote the religious freedom in China, include measures against terrorism. B. Advise China to give up the Policy to close the religious and spiritual groups. C. Advise to the Chinese government to change the system of laws, policies and practices about religious activities and organizations. D. Prohibit the American companies with businesses in China that make easy the violations of religious freedom or actions of discrimination on the ground of religion or belief. E. Insist to continue the promotion of a high grade of autonomy in Hong Kong in respect of Chinese government. 

 

5. New Regulations on Religious Affairs.

Premier Wen Jiabao signed Decree No 426 of the State Council on November 30, 2004, to make public the new Regulations on Religious Affairs. The following paragraphs are a brief introduction to the regulations which comprise 48 articles with seven chapters. During the process of discussing and drafting the regulations, which lasted six years, the drafting department undertook deep investigation and research into religious affairs in China and conscientiously listened to comments from involved parties and experts in the fields of law, religion and human rights, especially comments from representatives of religious circles and those citizens who are religious[6].

In January 1994, the State Council of the People's Republic of China issued two separated administrative regulations concerning religious issues, namely the Regulations on Administration of Sites for Religious Activities and the Provisions on the Administration of Religious Activities of Aliens within the Territory of the People's Republic of China.

Ten years later, China's religious leaders and the vast numbers of religious citizens continue to look forward a convenient legal framework of religious affairs.

It is provided in the new regulations that Chinese citizens are able to enjoy the freedom of religious belief; the State shall protect normal religious activities, and safeguard the lawful rights and interests of religious bodies, sites for religious activities and citizens who believe in religion, and no one may infringe upon such freedoms and rights.

Furthermore, it is also provided in these regulations that anyone who compels citizens to believe in, or not believe in any religions, or who interferes with the normal religious activities of a religious body or site for religious activities, shall be ordered to make corrections by the religious affairs department. If such an act constitutes a violation of the public security administration, an administrative penalty according to law shall be handed down. Anyone who infringes upon the lawful rights and interests of a religious body, site for religious activities or religious citizen shall assume civil liability according to law; if a crime is thus constituted, it shall be investigated for criminal liability.

The new regulations establish some important systems. They establish the management systems of religious affairs involving State and public interests from the aspects of religious bodies, sites for religious activities, religious personnel and religious property.

Under the regulations, a religious body has the rights to:

• Carry out activities pursuant to its constitution.

* These regulations standardize the registration system for the establishment of a religious body or site for religious activities; and these provisions of registration say to be based on China's actual conditions and abundant experience from long-term practice.

Therefore, the crackdowns against unregistered groups, including underground Protestant and Catholic groups, shall continue.

In January 2005, a national work conference on religion organized by SARA (State Administration for Religious Affairs) was held to "strengthen religious work." According to official media, the conference recommended that officials guard against Christian-influenced "cults" and avoid negative influences, including "foreign infiltration under cover of religion." Conference attendees also raised concern about circulation of foreign religious materials addressing the growth of Christianity in the country, including a documentary film entitled "The Cross" and a book entitled "Jesus in Beijing."

* The internal Autonomy is recognized, however, it is provided in these regulations that a site for religious activities shall establish and improve the management systems for personnel, finance, accounting, security, fire control, cultural relics protection, sanitation and epidemic prevention, etc, and shall exercise a democratic management system.

These are the directives for the religious organizations in the framework of a democratic management, but this system has no sense because the majority of religious organizations don’t have an internal democratic organization as Catholic Church. This matter could cause conflicts of interference in the religious affairs.

 

• Organize religious activities.

* A religious body or site for religious activities may enjoy tax reductions or exemptions in accordance with the relevant provisions of the State on taxation.

* With a view to prevent any infringement on the economic rights and benefits of religious circles, these regulations provide that a religious body or site for religious activities may operate public undertakings and engage in business operation activities according to law, and the proceeds shall be subject to financial and accounting management and used for the activities that are commensurate with the purpose of the religious body or site for religious activities, or for public undertakings; that a religious body or site for religious activities shall implement the systems of the State for financial and accounting affairs and taxation administration; and that the remaining property after the cancellation or termination of a religious body or site for religious activities shall be used for the undertakings that are commensurate with its original purpose of establishment.

 

* The regulations include provisions on stopping illegal and criminal activities carried out in the name of religion. In order to safeguard State and public interests, maintain harmony among and between religions and preserve social concordance, and better protect citizens' rights to freedom of religious belief and normal religious activities, these regulations provide that anyone who engages in illegal and criminal activities shall be stopped and punished according to law if they makes use of religion to endanger State or public security, infringe upon citizens' rights of the person and democratic rights, obstruct the administration of public order, or encroach upon public or private property.

 

• Determine the qualifications of religious personnel.

* Religious personnel are granted the rights to preside over religious activities, sort out religious scriptures, join the management organization of the site for religious activities, engage in religious and cultural study and participate in external exchange activities relating to religion. These provisions are not referring to a fundamental right, they seem to me only a concession of State.

* The  control is present again when the regulations stipulate that the qualifications of religious personnel shall be subject to the determination of religious bodies and be reported for the record to the religious affairs departments under the people's governments at or above the country level.

 

• Compile and print religious publications.

* The religious organizations only can sell or distribute the religious publications inside the sites for religious activities.

 

• Establish and run institutes for religious education, select and send students for religious study abroad or accept foreign students for religious study in China, and develop external exchanges on the basis of friendship and equality.

* These regulations provide for the conditions and the examination and approval procedures for establishing an institute for religious education since Article 82 of the Education Law of the People's Republic of China stipulates that regulations on education in religious schools shall be formulated by the State Council separately.

In the public or state educative space is prohibited the religious education. It cannot   intervene or influence in the general education system.

 

• Keep the legal property protected by law.

*  The regulations clearly provide that the legal property of a religious body or site for religious activities is protected by law, and no organizations or individuals may misappropriate, loot, privately divide up, damage, destroy, illegally seal up, impound, freeze, confiscate or dispose of such property, nor damage or destroy the cultural relics possessed or used by a religious body or site for religious activities.

* In the other side of the coin, under the regulations, in cases where the houses or structures of a religious body or site of religious activity need to be demolished or relocated because of city planning or key construction projects, the demolisher shall consult with the religious body or the site for religious activities concerned, and shall rebuild the houses or structures demolished, or make compensation pursuant to the relevant provisions.

 

• Not to be victim of  an unjust law or abuses of discretionary administrative actions.

* Administrative acts of governments are strictly standardized. These regulations explicitly define the limits of power, scope, conditions and procedures for granting administrative licenses pursuant to the Administrative Licence Law of the People's Republic of China, making the administrative acts of governments open and transparent.

These regulations provide for the legal liabilities for administrative organs and their staff if they commit any illegal act. Under the regulations, anyone who refuses to accept a specific administrative act taken by the religious affairs department may apply for administrative reconsideration according to law or institute an administrative lawsuit.

In addition, the regulations provide that people's governments at various levels shall solicit the views of religious bodies, sites for religious activities and religious citizens, and co-ordinate the administration of religious affairs.

 

C. Specific Aspects of Religion.

1. Marriage.

The matrimonial system[7] is based in the freedom, monogamy and the equality  between the male and the female, according to the article 2 of Marriage Act. However, the liberty is damaged, because the same mandate declares the birth control will be applied, and by the article 16 establishes that the husband and the wife will be forced to the birth control.

The monogamy is encouraged with the prohibition of bigamy as juridical as in fact, it is not allowed the cohabitation with a third individual not to be the wife or husband.

It is worth of mentioning the restriction of age to get married, since the male must be twenty two years old, and the female cannot be minor of twenty.

 If to get married to take note in the proper Register is enough, the same requirement is necessary to divorce by mutual agreement, and the competent authority in the Register will issue a certificate of divorce, except if the wife is in pregnant . In fact, in this case the dissolution of the marriage is not allowed, unless the same wife ask for the divorce, in opposite case, the Court should pass a resolution to decide on the justified ground to permit the dissolution, in spite of  the future paternity.

Under the country's family planning law and policies[8], citizens in 6 of the country's 31 provinces still were required to apply for government permission before having a first child, and the Government continued to restrict the number of births. Penalties for out-of-plan births still included social compensation fees and other coercive measures.

The Population and Family Planning Law, the country's first formal law on the subject, entered into force in 2002. The National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC) enforces the law and formulates and implements policies with assistance from the China Family Planning Association, which had 1 million branches nationwide.

The law delegates to the provinces the responsibility for drafting implementing regulations, including establishing a scale for assessment of social compensation fees. The National Population and Family Planning Law requires family planning officials to obtain court approval for taking "forcible" action, such as confiscation of property, against families that refuse to pay social compensation fees.

The one-child limit was more strictly applied in the cities, where only couples meeting certain conditions (e.g., both parents are only children) were permitted to have a second child. In most rural areas (including towns of under 200,000 persons), where approximately two-thirds of citizens lived, the policy was more relaxed, generally allowing couples to have a second child if the first was a girl or disabled. Local officials, caught between pressures from superiors to show declining birth rates, and from local citizens to allow them to have more than one child, frequently made false reports. Ethnic minorities, such as Muslim Uighurs and Tibetans, were subject to much less stringent population controls (see Tibet Addendum). In remote areas, limits often were not enforced, except on government employees and Party members.

The 2000 census enumerated the fertility rate at 1.3 births per woman, but later the Government adjusted the figure upward to 1.8 births per woman. According to the U.N., the fertility rate does not exceed 1.7. According to Chinese census authorities, the yearly growth rate of the population is 0.7 percent per year. Media reports indicated that some parts of the country had zero or even negative population growth, while the growth rate continued to increase elsewhere.

 

2. Education

The Constitution provides for 9 years of compulsory education for children. The goal of  the education and the culture is the development of the national spirit and the independence, the moral virtues of the population, the health bodies, the scientific knowledge and the ability to earn one’s living, according to the article 158 of the Constitution. In this framework, the education or religious instruction is not permitted at the public schools.

In 2003, the U.N. Special Reporter on the Right to Education visited the country. Following the visit, the Special Reporter informed that the Government failed to provide education to many children of migrant workers and prohibited children from receiving religious education, but the Government teaches atheism in schools. 

 

II. PAKISTAN

 

A. Religions

The country has a population about 150 million. According to the  most recent census, taken in 1998, the Muslim believers can be estimated in a 96% of the population; 1.69 per cent are Christian; 2.02 percent are Hindu; and 0.35 per cent belonging to other religions (including Ahmadis).

The majority of Muslims in the country are Sunni. It is estimated between 10% to 15% of the Muslim population are Shi’a, including 550,000 to 600,000 Ismailis. This last group is follower of Aga Khan, except 50.000, and known as Borahs.

Punjab is the biggest province of the country, and the majority of them are Muslims, however the most peculiar fact is that more than 90% of the Christians reside in this land.

Christian and Hindu People live in Sindh y Baluchistan.  There is a population of approximately 7,000 Parsis in Karachi, and 2% are Christian believers.

Ahmadi group live mainly in Punjab and Sinkh. They consider Muslim to themselves, but they don’t accept Muhammad as the last Prophet. Their spiritual Centre of Ahmadi community is the town of Rabwah in Punjab.

 

B. Legal System of the religious Freedom.

1. Constitution.

The Constitution establishes the fundamental human rights en Charter I, Part II.

The article 31 refers to religion, and proclaims the following content:

1.Steps shall be taken to enable the Muslims of Pakistan, individually and collectively, to order their lives in accordance with the fundamental principles and basic concepts of Islam and to provide facilities whereby they may be enabled to understand the meaning of life according to the Holy Quaran and Sunnah.

2. The State shall endeavour, as respects the Muslims of Pakistan:

(a)   to make the teaching of the Holy Quaran and Islamic compulsory, to encourage and facilitate the learning of Arabic language and to secure correct and exact printing and publishing of the Holy Quaran;

(b)  to promote unity and the observance of the Islamic moral standards; and

(c)   to secure the proper organisation of zakat, auqaf and mosques.

The free exercise of the religion has constitutional guaranties in several articles of the Constitution. So the article 19 establishes that all citizens have right to freedom of speech and freedom of press, but they can be subjected to reasonable restrictions, imposed by law in accord with the interest of the glory of Islam, or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan, or any part or country abroad which being keeping friendly relations, to maintenance the public order, the decency or morality.

According to law, the public order and the morality, every citizens will have the right to profess and practise the own religion, and all religious denominations and sects will have the right to establish, maintenance and manage other own institutions (article 20).

In one hand, nobody will be compelled to pay an special taxation for the propagation and affording any religion diverse that is not one’s own (article 21). In the other hand, the religious communities will not suffer discrimination in the concession or exemption of taxes (art. 22.2).

 

B. Real Status of Religious Freedom

The religious freedom in Pakistan continues suffering restrictions, and due to this social and legal situation, the Religious Freedom International Act of 1998 (in USA) has designed this country like of particular concern several years ago.

The religious minorities are victims of violent attacks from Sunni militants. The Government has not taken the necessary measures to avoid this actions, neither has controlled these activities of the religious schools, called madrassas, that usually perturb the minorities, in special a sector of Muslim people, against Christian believers.

The Ahmadis Muslim Community consider that they are addressees of the divine revelation and they are Prophets of God. These peculiar believes are declared a violation of basic Islamic Law and the Government decides officially that the Ahmadis don’t belong to Muslim Religion, by an constitutional amendment in 1974, with criminal provisions in the eighties decade against the Ahmadis when they considered themselves like Muslim people[9].

The Hudood Ordinances in Pakistan originated a lot of executions and amputations, with the charge of violations of Islamic Law. Moreover, the not Muslim citizens are Simmis, citizens of second category.

The Acts of Blasphemy 295 B and 295 C, have caused serious restrictions on religious freedom of Pakistan citizens, and other rights and freedoms.

The Blasphemy implies the death Penalty. This punishment was imposed by an amendment of an Act II, in 1986, Section 295 C, and it can be applied include before a proper trial. The defence Lawyers are victims of intimidations and threats, in addition a judge who denied to impose a death Penalty was assassinated by an extremist Islamic person.

In this re-Islamic process, there is a great percentage of women who have been prisoners, by adultery crime. The religious minorities suffer this serious situation, and a lot of Ahmadis, Christian, Hindu, and Muslim individuals have been accused.

In 1998, the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif imposes the Taliban style with the goal to eliminate the corruption of Islamic Law, and he restores the Sharia.

In March of 2003, two Christian persons accused of Blasphemy crime, were confined for tree years in prison, later they were condemned to thirty five years of prison, but other Christian people had lived the similar circumstances.

Christians and Ahmadis were the targets of religious violence. On August 21 of 2003, unknown assailants shot and killed Barkatullah Mangla, an Ahmadi advocate, at his residence in Sargodah. No one was arrested in the case.

 

On May 2 of 2004 in a Faisalabad hospital, Javed Anjum, a 19-year-old Christian, died. Anjum had drunk water from a tap at a local madrassa and was held by the teachers and students for 5 days and allegedly beaten. Subsequently, he was transferred to police and charged with theft. Because of his injuries, police later transferred him to the hospital in Faisalabad where he died. No arrests had been made by year's end.

On August 3 of 2004, a Christian, Tasneem Dean, and his family relocated from their home in Asafabad for fear of violence from the local Muslim community. Dean's 11-year-old daughter had accidentally thrown her father's antique copy of the Koran in the garbage. While the community's Islamic religious leaders accepted the Deans' explanation that the incident was an accident, local authorities advised Dean to depart, as they could not ensure his safety from extremist elements.

 

C. Specific Aspects of Religion

1.Education.

In the educative sector, the legislation is different to the reality. So, according to Constitution, no person attending any educational institution, shall be required to receive religious instruction, to take part in any religious ceremony or attend religious worship, if such instruction, ceremony or worship relates to a religion other than his own.

No citizen shall be denied the admission to any educational institution receiving aid from public revenues on the ground of only of race, religion, caste or place of birth. (article 22.3). 

No religious community or denomination shall be prevented from providing religious instruction to pupils of that community or denomination in any educational institution maintained wholly by that community or denomination. The social reality is opposite to this constitutional provisions, "Islamiyyat" (Islamic studies) is compulsory for all Muslim students in state-run schools. Students of other faiths are exempt from such classes; however, in practice, teachers induced many non-Muslim students to complete Islamic studies.

The religion is a reason to be a second class citizen, including in this sector of education. The Ahmadi, Christian, Hindu, and Shi'a Muslim communities reported significant discrimination in access to education, including at government institutions.

 

2. Family and women

The Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex; however, in practice, this provision is not enforced. Women face discrimination in family law, property law, and in the judicial system (see Section 2.c.). The Hudood Ordinances create judicial discrimination against women. Women's testimony in cases involving proposed Koranic punishment was considered invalid or discounted significantly. In other cases involving property matters or questions of future obligations, a woman's testimony is equal to half that of a man.

Family law provides protections for women in cases of divorce, including requirements for maintenance, and lays out clear guidelines for custody of minor children and their maintenance. In practice, many women were unaware of these legal protections or unable to obtain legal counsel to enforce them. Divorced women were often left with no means of support and were ostracized by their families. While prohibited by law, the practice of buying and selling brides continues in rural areas. Women are legally free to marry without family consent, but women who do so are often ostracized or are the victims on crimes of honour.

Inheritance law discriminates against women. Female children are entitled to only half the inheritance of male children. Wives inherit only one-eighth of their husband's estate. Women often receive far less than their legal inheritance entitlement. In rural Sindh, landowning families continued the practice of "Koranic marriages" in an effort to avoid division of property. Property of women married to the Koran remains under the legal control of their fathers, or eldest brothers, and such women are prohibited from contact with any male over 14 years old.

 

3. Social Attitude.

The Government's human rights record remains poor; although there were some improvements in several areas, serious problems remain. In 2002, citizens participated in national government elections, although many observers found serious flaws in their legal framework. Local police used excessive force and committed or failed to prevent extrajudicial killings. Sectarian killings continued to be a problem. Police abused and raped citizens. Prison conditions remained extremely poor, and police arbitrarily arrested and detained citizens. Some political leaders remained imprisoned or in exile abroad. Case backlogs led to long delays in trials, and lengthy pretrial detention was common. The judiciary was subject to executive and other outside influence. Corruption and inefficiency remained severe problems. The Government violated due process and infringed on citizens' privacy rights. The press was partly free and in some instances, the Government took retaliatory actions against media outlets and journalists; however, media criticism of security forces and the Government continued to increase during the year. The Government imposed some limits on freedom of association, religion, and movement. Governmental and societal discrimination against religious minorities remained a problem. Domestic violence against women, rape, and abuse of children remained serious problems. Honour killings continued; however, new legislation stiffens penalties for honour killings; and criminal procedures for the blasphemy laws and Hudood Ordinances were changed to prevent abuses. Discrimination against women was widespread, and traditional social and legal constraints generally kept women in a subordinate position in society. Trafficking in women and children for the purposes of forced prostitution and bonded labour, and the use of child labour remained widespread. Workers' rights were restricted, and debt slavery remained a problem.

International Amnesty reclaims, in 4 and 12 February 2004, the adoption of measures against homicides in ground of honour, and the arbitrary detentions to be implied for citizenship security, with a secret summary. 

 

III. CONCLUSIONS

 

1)                Religion and violence are two words with a strong significance in the life of a person and in the society in general.

These terms should not be united because the religion is an instrument of peace, but the persons who profess any religion use their believes like a weapon to impose the “truth”. John Paul II, died recently, said: The truth must be proposed, not imposed.

If a democratic society live a right concept of freedom, the disparity of opinions in religion and in any matter produce a free market of ideas. The religious pluralism is a good in the system of public liberties because it is a development or exercise of human rights.

2)                We are observers in a world of confessional policies. The confessional state attitude does not have the same orientation, the content of the state policies can be religious (Pakistan) or atheist (China), in both cases, the religious freedom is seriously restricted.

If a Religion is a culture, and the State adopts it as a national religion, it is complex to have a healthy legal system. Probably, the Constitution or any Act protect the religious freedom, but this juridical guarantee will be always a mere tolerance, not an authentic freedom and it will be difficult to reach the religious pluralism.

In addition, in these countries the religious approach is more important than the universal human rights. So, in the case of Pakistan, the legal and social position of Pakistan’s women is not balanced with the situation of men, because an interpretation of the Koran originates this negative consequence for women.

If the atheism is a state policy, the attitude towards religion is always aggressive. In China, for example, is permitted a limited tolerance to official religions, but the religion in general is considered an enemy.

Others countries are only secular States, but they admit religion as a private matter of conscience. When the neutral state policy stops the development of the religion in the public space, the government really seeks to impose the neutrality in the social behavior of the citizens and it’d be a violation of the religious freedom, principal constituent of the religious pluralism.

The secular States feel fear towards the violence of the fundamentalism and they protect their security with a battle against religion, with an attitude of extreme neutrality or indifference in religious affairs. In fact, it constitutes a comfortable way to avoid problems, but it is not the best political method to protect correctly the religious freedom.

3) In my opinion, the Constitutional System in Europe has not neither the best concept of religious pluralism. When the European Community decided not to  mention Christianity in the European Constitution, the members of the European Union ignored the history. We can not promote the religious freedom if we are blind before the reality. The mention of one religion is not a violation of the religious pluralism, is only the reality of Europe where several religions have had an important role, but the Christian roots are deep, and recognize a historic fact with a well-known social and cultural repercussion, it is not an illegal discrimination, it is a just mention only.

4) We need to make an effort to understand the religion as a human right in a scenery of violence, regardless we must respect the right to profess a religion, and we should work to get a world where the religion has a role as an instrument of peace.


[1] Some examples of them: Exploring the old and deducing the new makes a teacher; To learn without thinking is labour in vain, to think without learning is desolation; Men live with honestly, the dishonest live, spared by fortune; Knowlege is not equal to devotion; Devotion is not equal to joy.

[2] Vid., www.zenit.org. 28 April 2005

[3]  1. Heretic cult organizations shall be resolutely banned according to law and all of their criminal activities shall be dealt with severely.
Heretic cults, operating under the guise of religion, Qigong or other illicit forms, which disturb social order and jeopardize people's life and property, must be banned according to law and punished resolutely.
People's courts, people's procuratorates, public security, national security and judicial administrative agencies shall fulfil their duties in carrying out these tasks.
To be severely dealt with according to law are those who manipulate members of cult organizations to violate national laws and administrative regulations, organize mass gatherings to disrupt social order and fool others, cause deaths, rape women, swindle people out their money and property or commit other crimes with superstition and heresy.  2. The principle of combining education with punishment should be followed in order to unify and instruct the majority of the deceived public and to mete out severe punishment to the handful of criminals.
During the course of handling cult groups according to law, people who joined cult organizations but were unaware of the lies being spread by the group shall be differentiated from criminal elements who organize and take advantage of cult groups for illegal activities and/or to intentionally destroy social stability.
The majority of the deceived members shall not be prosecuted, while those organizers, leaders and core members who committed crimes shall be investigated for criminal conduct ; those who surrender to the authorities or contribute to the investigations shall be given lesser punishments in accordance with the law or be exempt from punishment. 3. Long-term, comprehensive instruction on the constitution and the law should be carried out among all citizens, knowledge of science and technology should be popularized and the national literacy level raised.
Banning cult organizations and punishing cult activities according to law goes hand in hand with protecting normal religious activities and people's freedom of religious belief.
The public should be exposed to the inhumane and anti-social nature of heretic cults, so they can knowingly resist influences of cult organizations, enhance their awareness of the law and abide by it. 4. All corners of society shall be mobilized in preventing and fighting against cult activities, and a comprehensive management system should be put in place.
People's governments and judicial bodies at all levels should be held responsible for guarding against the creation and spread of cult organizations and combating cult activities. This is an important, long-term task that will ensure social stability.

[4] http://www.cesnur.org/testi/falun_005.htm

[5] Those who organize and use sects and commit one of the following activities should be penalized according to Section 1, Article 300 of the Criminal Law:

I. Gathering people together to besiege and charge government organizations, enterprises or institutions, and disrupt their work, production and teaching and research activities;

II. Holding illegal assembly, demonstrations to incite or deceive, or organize their members or others to besiege, charge, seize, disrupt public places or places for religious activities, or disrupt social order;

III. Resisting departments concern to ban their groups, resuming the banned groups, establishing other sects, or continuing their activities;

IV. Instigating, deceiving or organizing their members or others to refuse fulfiling their legal obligations;

V. Publishing, printing, duplicating or distributing publications spreading malicious fallacies, and printing symbols of their sects;

VI. Other activities that violate the State law or administrative regulations.

 

[6] Vid., Asian News in http://www.chinadaily.com.

[7] Vid. Tan Shen, The Process and Achievements of the Study on Marriage and Family in China, in Intercultural Variation in Family Research and Theory: Implications for Cross-National Studies. Marriage and Family Review, Vol. 22, numbers ½ 1996, pp. 19-53.

[8] Cfr. The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004. Released by the Bureau of Democracy Human Rights, and Labor. February 28, 2005.

[9] Provisions of the penal code prohibited Ahmadis from engaging in any Muslim practices, including using Muslim greetings, referring to their places of worship as mosques, reciting Islamic prayers, and participating in the Hajj or Ramadan fast. Ahmadis are prohibited from proselytizing, holding gatherings, or distributing literature. Government forms, including passport applications and voter registration documents, require anyone wishing to be listed as a Muslim to denounce the founder of the Ahmadi faith. Ahmadis were frequently discriminated against in government hiring and in admission to government schools. Cfr. http.//www.informe de derechos humanos.

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