Violent Incidents Embody Pakistan’s Growing Intolerance of Christians
By ICC’s Pakistan Correspondent
08/28/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In August, two Christian families became the victims of Pakistan’s ever-growing religious intolerance. In both incidents, the families were subjected to extreme violence due to the low social standing Christians are afforded in Pakistan’s Muslim-dominated society.
Anti-Christian discrimination is widespread in Pakistan. Christians are often viewed as the lowest of the low in Pakistani society. This view is exemplified by the extreme over-representation of Christians in Pakistan’s undesirable sanitation professions, including sewer workers and street sweepers. Some reports estimate that nearly 80% of sanitation positions in Pakistan are held by Christians, who make up only 1.5% of the country’s total population.
On August 2, this attitude of intolerance cost Vicky Masih, a Christian from Lahore, his life.
“It was the wedding anniversary of Vicky and his wife,” advocate Tariq Zia told International Christian Concern (ICC). “Vicky was asked by his Muslim friends to meet them at Muhammad Abbas’ house and celebrate with them.”
“Muhammad Ilyas, another one of Vicky’s Muslim friends, had to pay back a handsome loan to Vicky,” Zia continued. “When Vicky asked for his money back, Muhammad Ilyas abused Vicky and said that he will teach a lesson to the choora.” “Choora” is a derogatory term used against Christians that denotes them as dirty and untouchable.
“Within no time, the party turned into an exchanging of harsh words, a physical clash, and ended with Vicky’s murder,” Zia reported.
According to reports, Vicky was shot in the stomach and abandoned while at Muhammad Abbas’ house. He later died at the hospital, leaving behind a wife and three young children.
"This is a sign of prevailing intolerance against Christians in this Islamic society. It is a result of the hate-based curriculum taught in the educational institutions, hate speeches, and other unmonitored publications against Christians.”
Separated by only 16 days and 750 miles, Alvin John and his family were attacked and beaten by a mob in the Mehmoodabad neighborhood of Karachi after he refused to allow a Muslim to forcibly marry his 19-year-old daughter.
“I shifted my family to this rented house about 10 months ago,” John told ICC. “At first, we were asked to leave by some Muslim neighbors because of our Christian faith. But since Easter, we have been pressurized, threatened, and teased.”
“My 19-year-old daughter Aresha then became the target,” John explained. “They would follow my daughter in the streets and markets, offering her a bright and secure future if she converted, and often abused her for her Christian faith.”
When this harassment became too much to bear, John reach out for help. “Two week back, we tried to negotiate with the elders of the area to settle the issue,” John said. “However, this bounced back as an attack on all of us.”
“A mob of Muslims, led by Muhammad Samad Zaheer, attacked me and my family around 11:00 p.m. on August 18,” John told ICC. “They damaged the left eye of my son, Vickram John. Initially, the doctors have no hope for his eyesight.”
“The attackers also broke most of the house stuff, furniture, doors, and windows,” John continued. “We cannot go back to the house as there is unrest in the neighborhood. We are now taking shelter with relatives.”
Kashif Anthony, a coordinator for the National Commission for Justice and Peace in Karachi, condemned the “cruel attitude” shown toward Christians. “This is a sign of prevailing intolerance against Christians in this Islamic society,” Anthony explained. “It is a result of the hate-based curriculum taught in the educational institutions, hate speeches, and other unmonitored publications against Christians.”
Until Pakistan takes concrete steps to stem this tide of intolerance, widespread discrimination against Christians will continue to grow. With that growth of intolerance, there will be likely more attacks on Christians in Pakistan.
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