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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_custom_heading text=”By ICC’s Pakistan Correspondent” font_container=”tag:h6|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1524746114971{margin-bottom: 22px !important;}”][vc_single_image image=”96435″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]08/17/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a group of Muslims beat a group of Christians, including children, for attempting to protect their church property in Kasur, a city near Lahore, Pakistan.

Bashir Masih, one of the victims, shared with ICC, “A charged mob of over 50 Muslim men, led by Mukhtar Ahmad, a local Muslim, attacked the Christians at Waran Chak Balyana village in Kasur on August 2, 2018. Ahmad, a local landlord carries a dispute with the local Christians over a piece of land for years…The lower court of Kasur has already issued ‘stay-order’ for the piece of land for both the parties in January 2018 which will expire on 17th of the next month. However, the Muslim family wanted to grab the church property using their social and religious pressure.”

St. Mathew’s Catholic Church is currently under construction, but it serves approximately 40 Catholic families in the village. The community built the church with their own money, without any financial help from the bishop or international community.

On August 2, 2018, Ahmad tried to cultivate a piece of land with a tractor which belongs to the church. The local Christians requested him not to violate court orders, however, Ahmad abused the Christians and passed derogatory remarks against [the] church, stating, ‘Building a church is nonsense.’…Within no time, Ahmad’s armed companions attacked the Christian men, women, and children with arms and sticks. They left two seriously injured and other with minor injuries. The mob stoned the under-construction church as well,” Barkat Masih told ICC.

Anand Masih (18) and Sagar Masih (10) were severely injured during the attack. Anand needed eight stitches on her lips and Sagar broke his left arm and is receiving medical treatment.

While meeting the community leaders, ICC learned that the local police officers refused to register a First Information Report (FIR) against the Muslim group and reportedly warned the Christians not to mention the issue to the media.

When the Christians complained [to] the police about the attack, the police officials ordered them to keep quiet and avoid mentioning it as a religious issueThe police were unfair in the matter,” one of the locals said.

While speaking with ICC, Shamoun Qaiser, a former legislator, expressed her concern: “The government officials think that religious freedom means celebrating Christmas and Easter eves only, however it’s much more than going to churches and celebrating events.  During [the] last decades, our social fabric has been torn in such a way that the space for religious minorities has been reduced. Our kids in schools face discrimination on the basis of religion. The church [property] graveyards are often grabbed with impunity. One could only hope for the good time. However, attacking a poor and downtrodden segments of the society should be condemned.“[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”“When the Christians complained `{`to`}` the police about the attack, the police officials ordered them to keep quiet and avoid mentioning it as a religious issue.”” font_container=”tag:h5|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1534538532080{margin-top: 50px !important;margin-bottom: 60px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;}”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1534538475885{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

During the first six months of 2018, ICC reported numerous violations of religious freedom against Pakistani Christian communities. Some of these violations included blasphemy accusations, multiple kidnappings, rape, forced conversions to Islam, and religiously motivated murders. For example:

  • A property that had two churches was reportedly taken by Muslims in Gujranwala city and Narowal in 2017.
  • In January, local authorities shut down six house churches, claiming that they could not provide security for worshippers.
  • In April, unknown assailants set a church on fire in Lahore.
  • In June, local Muslims forcefully closed a church in Toba Tek Singh after deciding that a church was inappropriate in a primary Muslim village.

As hostility toward Christians in Pakistan continues to increase, Christians are left feeling unprotected. Unfortunately, the authorities are reluctant to enforce justice and instead condone many of the offenses that target Christians.

For interviews with William Stark, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]