Pakistani Christian Brutally Beaten over Arm Wrestling Match

By ICC’s Pakistan Correspondent

08/07/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – On August 2, Vishal Masih, an 18-year-old Pakistani Christian, was severely beaten by a group of Muslims after winning an arm wrestling match in Nabipur village. Located in Sheikhupura District, 27 miles away from Lahore, Nabipur has become the latest site of religiously motivated violence in Pakistan.

Waris Masih, Vishal’s cousin, described the violent incident to International Christian Concern (ICC) days after it occurred. A day before the incident, Vishal was reportedly involved in an arm wrestling match with a Muslim boy who belongs to the influential family of Wirk Jutt.

Vishal defeated the Muslim boy several times which infuriated his opponent. During the match, the Muslim opponent began to verbally abuse Vishal and insulted the Christian community as a whole, saying, “How could a man of a dirty community defeat me?” He continued, “A Choora (Untouchable) defeats a Muslim is unbearable, I will teach him a lesson.

Following the match, while Vishal was on his way home, a gang of over a dozen young Muslims followed him and attacked. The gang brutally beat Vishal, attacked his family’s house, and beat his family members.

Local elders tried to intervene and resolve the issue, but, after a short period of time, another gang led by Khalaq Wirk, Hassnain Wirk, and Mehboob Alam assaulted Vishal again. Waris told ICC that although Vishal survived the attack, it was as if they left him for dead.

“The Christian community is already living in a constant fear and these sorts of incidents develop insecurity and detachment from this Islamic country or society which is sad to note.”

The gang then kidnapped the severely injured Vishal, locked him in a room at their residence, where they repeatedly beat him for the third time.

After the assaults, Vishal was reportedly admitted to a hospital. His family is being pressured by influential Muslims to withdraw the case, otherwise they could be in more danger.

Pastor Mushtaq, a Christian leader from Nabipur, told ICC, “The Christian community is already living in a constant fear and these sorts of incidents develop insecurity and detachment from this Islamic country or society which is sad to note.

In Pakistan, incidents of religiously motivated violence are becoming more common. It seems that it is very difficult for the majority Muslim population to accept people of different religious backgrounds and live harmoniously with them. Growing religious intolerance and the normalization of religious extremism has contributed significantly to this proliferation of violence. Unfortunately, this trend shows no signs of changing in the near future.

For interviews with William Stark, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

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