It is good to often remind myself that as frustrating as things can be here in the United States when it comes to religious liberty and related matters, there are Christians in other parts of the world who face the very real possibility, on a daily basis, of violence, rape, and murder—often, or even solely, because they are Christians. Two stories from Pakistan recently caught my attention; they both come from the Fides.org website. First:
Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – Roshan Masih, a 45 year old Christian, was shot dead after an argument over religion in Lahore, capital of Punjab Province. Fides learned that the episode, on 16 February, brought bewilderment and grief ito the local Christian community : it was an act of murder in cold blood: Roshan’s defence of his Christian beliefs compared to Muslim beliefs, may have been considered ‘blasphemous’. Roshan Masih had converted from Hinduism to Christianity and about 20 ago settled in Lahore. Days before the murder he had a heated argument over religion with a local Muslim, Sohail Akhtar. The latter waited for his opportunity, and, on 16 February, seeing Roshan sitting outside a shop run by Sadiq Masih, another Christian, Sohail Akhtar, armed with a rifle, shot him dead there and then. The case was reported to the “Legal Evangelical Association Development” (LEAD), which in turn filed an official First Information Report with the police, accusing Sohail Akhtar of premeditated homicide. The assassin was arrested and taken into custody by the local police which has undertaken a serious investigation, after which the case will probably pass to the Legal Courts.
Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – A Christian minor girl was kidnapped, raped and tortured by two influential Muslims. Fouzia Bibi, 15 years old, and a resident of the village of Roday, near Kasur (in Punjab), comes from a very poor family, and works as a farm laborer with her father, Malooka Masih, and with her brothers., On 25 January Fouzia Bibi had gone to do a commission, on behalf of the owner of the company, in a nearby location. On the way back two Muslims armed with pistols, Sher Muhammad and Shabir Ali, influential people of the territory, kidnapped and, imprisoned her in a room, raped and tortured her repeatedly. The girl was then left unconscious in the street. She was able to return home, Fouzua’s family went to the police station to file for a complaint. Due to the police’s refusal not to listen to what had happened , Fouzia’s father turned to Rev.Saleem Gill of the “Church of Pakistan” (Anglican) and Bishop Irfan Jamil, who sought proper legal assistance.
Even the NGO LEAD (Legal Evangelical Association Development “) has been involved which is dedicated to promoting social commitment of Christians in Pakistan. Four days later, with the help of the NGO, First Information Report was presented against the rapists. Malooka Masih said that the perpetrators also threatened her family to avoid protruding complaint. Fouzia’s family is now “terrified and under threat,” says to Fides the LEAD.The NGO notes that Christians are often victims of abuse by powerful Muslims, who deny them any dignity or human rights.
Visit the Fides.org site for more information about Christians around the world.