Minority Christians Keep Faith in Pakistan

February 5, 2008

Author: John M. Glionna

Source: Los Angeles Times


Followed by a gaggle of children, Julius Salik walks a muddy dirt track in one of this city's squalid Christian slums, past open sewers and ramshackle homes with stick roofs.

With a weary sigh, he motions to a row of neat brick apartment buildings just a few hundred yards away.

"Muslims live there," says the 60-year-old social worker and former federal minister. "Good construction. Big houses. Big cars."

Pakistan, he says, is a place of extremes. Muslims represent the vast majority of this Islamic homeland's 162 million residents. They control the legislature and economy, often leaving minorities to endure second-rate status.

For years, Salik has waged an unorthodox human rights campaign of public protests he says is necessary to get the attention of a neglectful government.

He has gone on hunger strikes, cut himself, burned his clothes and furniture and even lived in a cage -- all in an effort to improve the lives of Ahmadis, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and especially Christians like himself.