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.
According to International Christian Concern, one Christian father was murdered on Aug. 2 in Lahore on his wedding anniversary for daring to ask one of his Muslim friends to pay him back the money he had loaned to him.
Advocate Tariq Zia explained that the Christian, Vicky Masih, was threatened by the Muslim man, Muhammad Ilyas, who called him a “choora” (a derogatory term used against Christians that denotes them as dirty and untouchable) and said he will be “teaching him a lesson.”
“Within no time, the party turned into an exchanging of harsh words, a physical clash, and ended with Vicky’s murder,” Zia said.
Masih, a father of three, was reportedly shot in the stomach and later died in hospital.
Sixteen days later, another Christian family, headed by father Alvin John, was beaten for refusing to allow their 19-year-old daughter to be forced into marriage to a Muslim man.
“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,” he added. “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.”
The family attempted to negotiate with elders of the area to settle the issue, but were attacked instead.
“A mob of Muslims, led by Muhammad Samad Zaheer, attacked me and my family around 11:00 p.m. on August 18,” the father added. “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. We cannot go back to the house as there is unrest in the neighborhood. We are now taking shelter with relatives.”
Christians have frequently suffered severe violence at the hands of Muslim mobs. In another attack on Aug. 2, a group of 50 Islamic hardliners beat a group of Christians who were protecting their church at Waran Chak Balyana village in Kasur.
The over 40 Catholics insisted that they had the right to build their church on the disputed piece of land, but the Muslims, led by a man named Mukhtar Ahmad, attempted to take it by force.