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Muslims Expel All Christians From a Village in Pakistan

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© RIZWAN TABASSUM / AFP

PAKISTAN-RELIGION-CHRISTIAN-PROTEST Minority Pakistani Christians chant slogans against the murder of a Christian couple during a protest in Karachi on November 9, 2014. A Christian bonded labourer and his pregnant wife were killed November 4 for allegedly desecrating pages of the Koran in the eastern village of Chak 59, sparking condemnation from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. AFP PHOTO/Rizwan TABASSUM

Aleteia - published on 11/26/14 - updated on 06/08/17

Christians forced to leave because a Christian married a Muslim woman.

Pakistan/Aleteia (Aleteia.org/ar) – In a Pakistani village in the Punjab province, Christian families are being forced to leave because a Christian married a Muslim woman. The Muslims in this village became enraged when this occurred and began threatening them.

This event is happening as little was two weeks after the atrocious crime wherein a Christian couple was burned in a brick kiln by a Muslim mob. The couple had been working there when they were accused of blasphemy; a crime they did not commit. The Punjab has once again become the scene for a new tragedy.

All of the Christian families in one of the villages of the Sahiwal region were forced to flee from their homes due to these threats from Muslims. They condemned one of the Christians for getting married to someone from their group. ‘Abid Masih, a friend of the couple, revealed to Press Trust of India news agency on the 13th of November that, “They were married in October and once the Muslims in the village learned of the marriage they demanded that the young woman be returned or we would bear the consequences.”

Prohibited by Islamic Law
The names of the newly married couple are Shahab Masih and Ruksana Kosar, who is in her twenties. They no longer live in the village where the young woman was raised. They now live in the Khanewal region, which is where the young Christian man lived. The future couple met in the village of Sahiwal, where Shahab frequently traveled to visit his family.
When the news of the marriage was learned, the Muslims in Sahiwal attacked Shahab’s family as well as other Christian families in the village. The Muslims demanded that Ruksana be returned immediately, according to Sharia which prohibits Muslim women from marrying a man from another religion.

In this regard ‘Abid clarified saying, “We told them that Shahab is now living in Khanewal with his wife and that it would be better for them to go and discuss the matter with him there. However, they would not listen. Then, the Muslim woman’s father Jamil Hussein proceeded to file a complaint with the Shahkot police, accusing Shahab and two of his family members with kidnapping. Meanwhile, the entire Muslim community was threatening to kill Shahab’s father and all of the village’s Christians.  

The Police provided no assistance
The Christians’ pleas for help from the local police were all in vain. In light of this fact, the nine Christian families living in Sahiwal (approximately 25 people) were forced to flee during the night leaving their homes and jobs.  The Investigator, Muhammad Riyad from the Shahkot police defended himself by saying, “We have not arrested anyone yet due to the sensitive nature of this case. We will not take any further steps before undergoing a thorough investigation.”

Without shelter and resources
This is the third time during the past few weeks that Christian families in the Punjab have been forced to leave their village because of Muslims. Two other cases occurred in the areas of Sargodha and Narowal. Meanwhile, Aslam Sahoutra, leader and president of the Humanitarian Liberation Front of Pakistan, condemned these recent incidents. Furthermore, he demanded that the Punjab provincial president, Shahbaz Sharif ensure that families can return to their villages with police protection. They have been left destitute since being forced from their homes and villages.

Likewise, other human rights activists protested and condemned this recent incident. They renewed their complaint that “members of the Muslim community are immune from all prosecution, yet there is a complete absence of protection for Christians.”  

Shocking murder of a married couple who were burned alive
This has all happened at a time when the country is still living in a state of shock because of the murder of the Christian couple Shahjad Masih and Shama Bibi who were burned alive on the 4th of November by an angry mob of hundreds of Muslims who accused them of desecrating the Quran.

In light of the extreme barbarism by which this tragedy is characterized, the media in the country are throwing their support exclusively behind the Islamic community; which happens to be the largest religious group in Pakistan. Yet, the community’s leader, Siraj al-Haqq did meet with the families of the two victims on November 10th in order to offer his condolences. The government was urged to “take decisive measures against the perpetrators of this terrible crime.” Since these crimes occurred on the 4th of November protests have erupted in several of the country’s largest cities, demanding that “authorities learn from this tragedy in order to prevent it from happening again.”

In Faisalabad more than a thousand human rights activists, a variety of religious leaders, Christians, Muslims, monks and students gathered for a candlelight vigil commemorating the slain couple. This all took place in front of local government buildings on Thursday, November 13th. This march, which was organized by the National Minorities Alliance of Pakistan (NMAP), the Joshua Welfare Organization (JWO) and the Muslims and Christians Union, was concluded with an interfaith prayer in honor of Shama and Shahzad.  

Eradication of minorities
At the end of the demonstration Lala Robin Daniel, an NMAP leader stated that, “the Christians that were murdered in the name of religion under the pretext of anti-blasphemy laws amounts to the eradication of minorities.” A government official over minority rights demanded that “immediate measures” be taken regarding the violations being committed in the name of the anti-blasphemy laws, and that harsher punishments be given to those who would use those laws for revenge or to settle personal scores. Father Suhail Kanwal supported this announcement by saying, “the arbitrary use of anti-blasphemy laws is an act of blasphemy in and of itself and deserves the same punishment.” Furthermore, he recommended that authorities create a committee entrusted with investigating blasphemy cases that “are still pending before the courts,” such as the much publicized case involving Asia Bibi. Finally, the Muslim leader Yunus Abar mentioned the importance of immediate reforms for worker’s rights; especially in the labs and brick factories where minority workers are often the victims of violations and harassment.

In Lahore, thousands of demonstrators (students, activists from the Human Friends Organization and the International Stefanos Union) rallied on Saturday the 15th of November in front of the Press Club. During the demonstration they chanted, “Justice must be served,” and “Stop the massacre of minorities.” Furthermore, they demanded that the “death penalty be given to those who murdered Shahzad and Shama.” During this demonstration, which was followed by a candlelight vigil to commemorate the Christian couple who had been murdered, a picture of the brick factory’s owner, Yusuf Ghawjar was burned as an act of condemnation for the “guilty who have been allowed to avoid punishment.”

During the day on the 17th of November, hearings were started in order to arraign those who had been accused of being the ringleaders in the mass murder of Christians. Among those who had been arrested there were fifty who had been detained since the tragedy occurred. A counter-terrorism court was convened to hear the cases of four who were the owners of the brick factory and afterwards the judge remanded them to prison where they will be held until the next scheduled hearing on the 19th of November.”

This articleis from Aleteia’s Arabic edition and was translated by Donald Puhlman.

Tags:
Christians in the Middle EastIslamist MilitantsPakistan
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