A 17-year old Christian boy in Pakistan was beaten to death in Pakistan by his fellow Muslim students in their classroom, reported the British Pakistani Christian Association.
A gifted intellect and head of his class, Sharoon Masih was the only Christian student in his grade. He had faced isolation and bullying from the first day he entered the school in Verahi District in Punjab.
His mother said he was warned from the beginning not to mix with the Muslims at school, with one fellow classmate saying, “You’re a Christian. Don’t dare sit with us if you want to live.”
Repeated attempts were made to convert Sharoon, but he refused. His family reported that he used his isolation to concentrate on his studies and reached the top of his class – a position which infuriated his fellow students even more.
“Sharoon and I cried every night as he described the daily torture he was subjected to,” related his mother. “He only told me about the abuse and violence he was facing. He did not want to upset his father because he had such a caring heart for others.”
Sharoon’a father, a laborer at a brick kiln had saved money to send his gifted son to the best school in the area.
While the instigator of the beating was been arrested, many other boys took part in the murder remain at large as witnesses to the horrific beating refuse to come forward.
There are varying reports about why no teachers stopped the fight. Initial reports out of the classroom allege the teacher ignored the fight. Others say it occurred between classes when the teacher was not present. Still, there was no teacher at the school that responded to the noise of the melee.
The headmaster of the school was dismissed, but to date, all the teachers remain in their positions.
“Christians are despised and detested in Pakistan they are a constant target for persecution,” said Wilson Chowdhry, chair of the British Pakistani Christian Association.
“This killing of a young Christian teenager at school serves only to remind us that hatred towards religious minorities is bred into the majority population at a young age, through cultural norms and a biased national curriculum. However by no means is such treatment an anomaly – it is an expectation that Christians will face abuse and violence during the years in the educational system.”
Choudary charged that culpability for the crime goes all the way to the Pakistani government, which has failed to remove materials with the national curriculum that teaches and reinforces this attitude toward Christians.
Notably, the curriculum was flagged by the United States Commission for International Freedom as a potential bar to foreign aid.
“Such poor governance has inculcated generations of Pakistani citizens with false stereotypes that undermine the basic human rights of the non-Muslims in their midst,” Choudary said. “This mis-education has reciprocally also made Muslims more susceptible to the hate ideology espoused by the many rogue Imams following hardline sects of Islam.
“Sharoon was bright and intelligent young boy who had a potentially good future has now been killed. Yet once again in Pakistan, the debate is not on who is culpable but who is not culpable of a most heinous crime.”
The association is calling on the Pakistani government to reform of the educational system to remove the biases which openly demonize minorities. To sign the petition, click here.