By Kaleem Dean
Daily, in Pakistan, horrific incidents of persecution of Christians occur. Most are not reported; the few that are get picked up by local media. Christian human rights organizations try to support the victims and publicize the atrocities. The following are two recent incidents that were publicized:
A young Christian man had his arms chopped off in Pakistan for refusing to convert to Islam.
Aqeel Masih was working at a gas station in the Lahore LDA Quarters area. Masih had been continually subjected to pressure by his Muslim co-workers – including senior management — to leave his faith and convert to Islam.
Frustrated that Masih insisted on refusing to convert, the workers kidnapped him and held in a secret location increasing their tactics. In a rage due to Masih’s steadfast refusal to accept Islam, three to four Islamist extremists chopped off both of his arms and left him in the road to bleed to death.
Masih was discovered by a group of people who, unaware that he had been attacked because of his refusal to convert of Islam, took him to the hospital where he remained recovering for the next three weeks.
When he was released from the hospital, Masih, along with family members went to the police. By that time, newspaper reporters had heard of the atrocity and were already at the police station trying to get information on the incident, however the police prevented them from asking any Masih any questions.
Noting the seriousness of the case, the police dutifully registered the complaint against the owner and employees of the gas station. However, to date, no arrests have been made. The police have forbidden Masih from talking to the press.
Although the incident was not reported in the national media, it has been picked up by local Christian media and human rights groups.
In another case, Jhura Masih, a Christian father of 10 children was working for a Muslim landlord Muhammad Naveed from whom he took a loan of equalling $540. After six months, when the load was due, Masih was only able to pay back a little over half of the loan.
After requesting a week’s extension on the due date for the balance, which Naveed refused, Masih returned home to discuss the situation with family members.
That same evening, Naveed appeared with a group of men armed with guns. After destroying his house, torching his donkey cart and other belongings, they started firing. The gunmen targeted Masih’s son, who survived unharmed, but Masih sustained a serious bullet wound in his hand.
The angry mob tried to lynch Masih’s daughters, but local villagers protected the girls. When Masih reported the incident to the police, they refused to register the complaint telling Masih to first heal his hand and then settle the debt.
However, because of the seriousness of a gunshot wound, the police were forced to register the case. However, as is all too common when Christians are attacked in Pakistan, no arrests have been made.
Kaleem Dean is human rights activist and journalist from Pakistan. He currently lives in the UK. He was the publisher of Christian Monitor in Pakistan, a leading Christian newspaper which covers minority issues. He presently writes for various Pakistani papers. Write to him at [email protected]