Thursday, February 28, 2008

The oppression of Pakistani Christians

I've just seen the following:

    Friday, February 15, 2008

    Christian man loses eye over attempts to ‘rectify’ Muslims’ morals

    By Sheraz Khurram Khan
    Special Correspondent for ASSIST News Service in Pakistan

    SIALKOT, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- A Muslim mob robbed a Christian man of his eye with the help of a dagger and left another Christian man critically injured in village Sabz-kot in sub-division of district Sialkot on February 6.

    The incident took place after the Christian residents of the village put up opposition to a couple of Muslim men who used to harass Christian girls on their way home from Church after Sunday services, the Pakistan Christian Post (PCP) has reported.

    According to the story, announcements from the village mosques demanded the Muslim residents to teach a lesson to the Christians, who according to the story were referred as “infidels” in the calls from mosques. Most of the semi-literate Muslim clerics frequently use the word “infidel” for Christians and the other religious minorities of the country during their sermons with a view to inflame sentiments of local Muslims.

    The story said that the Muslim mob, armed with guns, axes and clubs, attacked the Christian residents of the village. Tension erupted there after two Muslims, who have recently purchased houses in the Christian neighborhood, started claiming the courtyard of the Church as their own property. The story also said that the Muslims in question also threatened to erect a wall in front of the courtyard.

    The Christian elders, according to the story, urged the Muslim elders of the village to stop the Muslim youth from drinking liquor publicly and using drugs in the common courtyard.

    Mr. Basharat Masih, an elected member of the Union Council also took up the matter with the Muslim leaders but laying claim to the courtyard the Muslims insisted that nobody could stop them from consuming liquor in the courtyard.

    Pakistani Christians are allowed to obtain a liquor permit, but a large majority of Pakistani Muslims are defacto consumers of liquor, as most of Pakistani Christians cannot even afford to consume liquor due to their poor-socio-economic conditions.

    The Muslim mob in question fired a shot in the air and forced John Masih, a Christian resident of the area, to kneel down. Masih's refusal to obey cost him his eye as an unidentified Muslim dug out his eye with the help of a dagger.

    “We will take out eyes of every infidel who shall dare to look straight in our eyes,” the PCP quoted one of the Muslims as saying.

    Khariat Masih, who advanced to release John from the mob's clutches suffered injuries to his head, abdomen and legs after he was attacked with an axe.

    The area Christian Councilor, Basharat Masih, rushed to defuse tension and to prevent attackers but he was brutally beaten with sticks. His mother Salima Bibi fell to save his son Basharat Masih from attackers but she was also dragged by hair in courtyard, said the story.

    Later, Muslim mob broke out doors, which have been closed in fear of attack and dragged out children, men, women and elders. In gunfire, mob disgraced women and tortured men before their families, the story said.

    The police came after attack and arrested Christians instead to registering any case against the Muslims. The police officials later started inquiry of incident in light of a property dispute between the two groups, the story maintained.

    On the intervention of senior officials, John Masih, Khariat Masih, Basharat Masih, Salima Bibi, and three other were admitted in hospital. John Masih and Khariat Masih are said to be in critical condition.

Its the last part that is most depressing ( though the horror is earlier ). The police will not act. This is appears to often be the case in Pakistan.

The issue appears to be Christians daring to complain about the drunken behaviour of a Muslim. ( You would think the local Muslims would have been angry with the youth for drinking ).

It is again the issue of the dominance some see as their right, and shows how religious minorities are treated by some and the state in a Muslim country. Notice the role played by the Inmans and local mosques.

Perhaps the Archbishop of Canterbury would like to intervene ?

The good news is that with the results of the Pakistani elections some of the more oppressive laws, such as their blasphemy laws may be repealed. This is the real test to those who say that Islam and other cultures can coexist.

But I also think that Christians should be more aware of the suffering and oppression of our fellow believers in countries which lack reel religious freedom. There is perhaps always a danger that such minorities are used as hostages if they are seen to be important to westerners. However I think they make a good case to bring up with Muslims in county's like the UK which has such close and strong relations with Pakistan.

After all don't Christians have human rights also ? ( Try to imagine the outrage if the reverse situation had happened in England.)

Finally let me wish John Masih well, I will remember to pray for him.

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