04/10/2019 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – On April 4, Kenneth Johnson, a 27-year-old Christian from Pakistan’s Khanewal District, was attacked and beaten by local Muslims after he attempted to open a small grocery store in Chak 136/16-L (North). According to Johnson, the attack was instigated because of his religious identity.
Speaking with International Christian Concern (ICC), Johnson explained that he is a poor agricultural laborer and takes care of three of his children through the daily wages he is able to earn when he gets work. Speaking about the small grocery store, Johnson said, “It took about a year for me to save and arrange the required funds to establish a grocery store. However, Christians in this Islamic society are not allowed to initiate a business.”
“I had customers in my shop when Fiaz Khattak led an armed group of about a dozen Muslim,” Johnson continued. “They attacked my shop, damaged the stuff, thrashed me, passed derogatory remarks against Christians and Christianity. However, I managed to escape from the scene and protected myself from major injuries.”
According to Johnson, Khattak verbally abused him by saying, “How dare you, a Christian, initiate a business of a grocery store in the village. You are born to clean the roads and our houses, not to do businesses.”
“The police did not reach the scene on time when we called the helpline,” Johnson continued. “Instead of a legal course of action, the police officer referred the case to the community leader. However, the community leader is even more helpless in front of an influential Muslim, therefore, I have not got any relief.”
“It is very hard for Christians to uplift themselves,” Johnson explained. “They are deprived and discouraged at different levels and face discrimination. Muslims often resist to provide opportunities to Christians. Rather, they create hurdles to keep them at lower positions.”
The local reconciliation committee reportedly has resolved the issue in favor of Johnson; however, he lacks the courage to reopen the shop because he is continuously receiving threats. According to a local representative, he is being pressured and advised to avoid legal action against the attackers and to quit the idea of small business.
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