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ICC Note:

On August 27, the third day of the start of the new school year, Sharoon Masih, a 17-year-old Christian boy, was killed when a Muslim classmate beat him in the classroom. According to Sharoon’s family, their son was killed because of widespread discrimination faced by Christians across Pakistan. Often, Christians are relegated to the lowest rungs of Pakistan’s social ladder. Considered low caste and dirty, many Christians are forced to endure daily discrimination that is intended to remind them of their “rightful” place in Pakistan. Did that stigma of low status contribute to the beating that ultimately led to Sharoon’s death? 

10/23/2017 Pakistan (Religious News Service) – On their son’s third day of high school, the parents of 17-year-old Sharoon Masih learned that he had been in a fight, had suffered a serious injury, and been taken to the hospital.

They rushed to the hospital and there found him dead.

“The boys from his class who had brought him there told us that he died in the classroom,” said his mother, Razia Bibi, a Christian woman in a predominantly Muslim country.

Police said that on Aug. 27 another student at the school — in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province — kicked Sharoon in the stomach and that he died of internal injuries. The student charged in his death now awaits trial, but police are not calling the attack a hate crime.

However, many Christian Pakistanis, who make up less than two percent of the country’s population, suspect the teenager was targeted because of his religion. Christians, they say, are often forced to occupy the lowest rungs of the social ladder, and are regularly discriminated against in education, employment and housing.

Advocates for Christians in Pakistan note that another Christian boy was killed violently this year: On Oct. 9, police killed a 14-year-old Christian boy in an incident still under investigation.

Pakistan is fourth on the list of 50 countries that the U.S.-based nonprofit Open Doors — which advocates for persecuted Christians — lists as the most difficult in which to be a Christian.

Christians, while one of the largest religious minorities in Pakistan, are far from the only group to suffer for their beliefs. The Ahmadiyya, who consider themselves Muslim but are widely labeled heretics, are forbidden by law from calling themselves Muslims, and have long been persecuted. Sunni Muslim extremists in his mostly Sunni country have launched lethal attacks against the Shiite minority.

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