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Pakistani Police Open Fire on Christian Protest
Police Rob Widow, then Violently Suppress Crowd Protesting the Theft

02/19/09 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Pakistani police robbed a Christian widow on February 9. When the widow’s Christian neighbors flooded the streets to protest, the police returned and fired on the crowd, sparking a three-hour standoff.

Police Inspector Muhammad Afzal Lalli, a radical Muslim, was leading a drug bust in Sargodha, Pakistan, when two suspects hid in the home of a Christian widow. The raid occurred on February 9, and the widow’s son, Arif Masih, told ICC, “At that time, none of us was at home, because a close relative of us had passed away and all of our family members had gone to their residence for mourning.”

Police followed the suspects into the house, breaking open the door without a search warrant. “In our absence, Factory Area Police not only broke door locks of our residence, but they took my wife’s gold jewelry and 20,000 Rupees cash [$283],” said Arif, an employee of the Pakistan Air Force.

When news of the police raid spread through the largely Christian neighborhood, approximately 300 young men flooded the streets to protest, burning tires on a main road and shouting slogans against the police.

The police Inspector and several policemen returned and opened fire on the Christian protest. When the crowd did not disperse, the officers charged the Christians and began beating protesters with their batons. The officers seized Arif and another young man, Azher Masih, and dragged them to the police van. The two men were later released.

At this, the crowd lost control and began throwing bricks and stones at the police. The officers called for backup, and an additional law enforcement team known as the Elite Force arrived to help put down the protest. An ICC correspondent overheard one of the members of this Elite Force say, “How dare these Chooras [literally, “street sweepers”; a pejorative term for Christians] protest against the police.” For three hours the police went back and forth with the infuriated mob.

Finally, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Malik Manzoor Awan and a Christian representative, Mr. Farrukh Tanvir, intervened and appealed to both the police and the angry mob of Christians to cool down. DSP Awan promised the Christians that justice would be served and that the police officers responsible for the raid would be prosecuted. Police then formed a committee to investigate the incident.

In reporting this incident, however, all the Pakistani print and electronic media portrayed the event in a prejudiced manner by concealing the facts and claiming that “all Christians are drug runners.”

Samuel Wallace, ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia, said, “While we cannot condone everything this Christian mob did, it is important to understand how pervasive Pakistani society’s oppression of Christians is. Christians are constantly harassed, pushed down, and mocked, and rarely get justice from the authorities. It is the Pakistani government’s responsibility to ensure that such riots do not happen by treating minorities fairly.”

Please contact the Pakistani embassy in your country and ask them to take action to ensure that Christians in Pakistan receive justice.

Pakistan Embassies:

USA: (202) 243-6500, [email protected]
Canada: (613) 238-7881, [email protected]
UK: 0870-005-6967, [email protected]