10/24/2019 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – A Christian family in Lahore, Pakistan has been reportedly harassed and threatened by Islamic clerics over a business disagreement. According to the Christian family, they have been threatened with “consequences” if they do not follow the clerics’ “instructions” to convert to Islam.
Chand Masih and his wife started a small garment factory in Lahore. Masih became friendly with Muhammad Aslam, a customer and local cleric, and allowed Aslam to invest in the business in January 2019.
According to Masih, Aslam then withdrew from the business in March and left Masih alone to take care of the business. In April, Aslam returned and demanded that Masih return the funds he had invested in the business. At that time, Masih was unable to pay Aslam back his investment.
Aslam then demanded that Masih produce Islamic garments and supply these items in the larger market. These Islamic garments included, handmade sheets to wrap the Quran, wrist bands with Quranic verses, Islamic head caps, and floor-sheets for prayers. Masih, fearing a religious misunderstanding if the wider public discovered a Christian was producing Islamic garments, declined Aslam’s demand and offered to pay Aslam back in installments over a few months.
According to Masih, Aslam became upset and demanded that Masih convert to Islam if he was unable to pay back his loan. This demand soon became a religious dispute in which Masih replied, “I was born as a Christian and I will die as a Christian.”
Since this disagreement, Masih reports that Islamic clerics have been harassing him and his family demanding they convert to Islam. In August, three men broke into Masih’s home and attacked his wife. These men beat Masih’s wife, dragged her into the street, and threatened her with severe “consequences” if she and her husband did not follow the “instructions” of the cleric.
Living in fear, Masih and his family have abandoned their garment business and have gone into hiding. They report that they feel that they are in constant danger and rarely stay at their family home.
Due to widespread discrimination and persecution, Pakistani Christians are often treated as second class citizens. Because of this, their community has little access to police and local authorities to help manage disputes, especially between religious communities. For Christians that find themselves in situations similar to Masih, hiding and relocation are often the only way to keep safe.
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