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Pakistan: Christian family flees its home after home invasion and arson attack by Muslim gang

Aside from the horrors that the Masih family endured, the worst aspect of this story is the lack of cooperation and outright threat from the police: “The family reported the incident to the local police at Gujar Khan Police Station. At that time the police refused registration of a crime and told the Masih that if they pursued a First Information Report (FIR) they themselves would be charged with blasphemy.” Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have been used for years to victimize innocent Christians. The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, calls upon the international human rights community to bring pressure upon the government of Pakistan to repeal these draconian and unjust laws, and allow the Christians of the nation to practice their faith in peace and live in peace.

“Pak-Christian family flee home after home invasion and arson attack by Muslim gang,” Pakistan Christian Post, October 4, 2018:

Islamabad: October 4, 2018. (PCP) A Christian family from Gujar Khan is hiding in fear after a gang of six Muslim brothers from their neighborhood descended upon their home and assaulted all the family members that were in the house.

On 20th September 2018 at 1pm Bashir Masih (58 yrs) and his wife Grace Masih (60 yrs) were attacked while standing at the gate of their house after being told that their ritual impurity was contaminating the local air. The ageing couple refused to go inside and three male neighbors ran over and pushed the pushed the couple into their house whilst also kicking Bashir hard on his legs telling him not to stand in their presence again. Bashir’s wife Grace was also injured as she struggled to help her husband from the onslaught until a daughter-in-law ran to the doorway and quickly bolted the door keeping the assailants out. The family did not report the incident to the police due to a previous exhibited indifference to their concerns despite Bashir and his having to be treated at hospital.

The following morning at 4am on 21st September, 12 men including the six known brothers from next door entered the home of Bashir and his family whilst they were asleep and beat them with sticks and the butt of guns with which two of the assailants were armed. The women of the family were also shamed by having their clothing ripped from their bodies as the men ogled them. The attackers then went on a rampage destroying property in the Christian family’s house after which they set their house and car on fire. This was the most recent of a series of vicious assaults on the beleaguered family.

Since last year the six brothers living in the house next door have attempted to intimidate the Pak-Christian family into abandoning their house by threats and harassing phone calls, because they hated having Christians next door to them. Initially the unreasonable insistence by the Muslim neighbors were ignored by the family, who thought they couldn’t be serious about their illegal demand; however, it was not long before the retired couple and their five married children found out just how serious their neighbors were.

When Bashir Masih (58 yrs) bought the land on which his family were to build their future home in 2014 from savings accrued through years of hard work resulting in a sizeable retirement fund, there was no angst or schism against their presence in the community. The family had lived close by for many years previously in rented accommodation with other Christians but wanted to own something of their own and could not have foreseen the polarization this would cause.

Without causing any untoward disturbance and conscious of the sensibilities of their many neighbours the family worked as quietly as possible without working unsociable hours. Their diligent efforts resulted in a structure being erected in 2016 and with further work the home became livable with some electricity and other features by early 2017.

The family moved in with great joy and an eagerness to establish their future in Gujar Khan the place of their birth proud that they finally had a place of their own to call home. A legacy was beginning.

Within weeks of moving in the Muslim brothers next door began to challenge the Christian men in the household on their right to dwell in a street were only Muslims were residing. The Muslim gang would try to coax a fight and would threaten to kill the Christians if they did not leave the area and hand over possession of their property to them. The Muslim neighbors then entered a period of regular abuse towards the beleaguered Christians, they would block their pathways as they travelled to work or to shops and would be a general nuisance with noise and shouting.

Threats that we shouted at the Christians daily were “When are you Chura leaving the house and giving it to us, stop defiling our land” and “leave now before you are killed or accused of blasphemy.”

As frightened as the Christians were they adamantly refused to leave their home which they had struggled so much to attain. This only served to anger the Muslim men who increased the campaign of attrition and brazenly opened fire around the Christian family’s property without hitting anything in an attempt to further intimidate them in June 2017. The Muslim men are involved in drug trafficking and have a large arsenal of guns which they are not afraid to display.

The family reported the incident to the local police at Gujar Khan Police Station. At that time the police refused registration of a crime and told the Masih that if they pursued a First Information Report (FIR) they themselves would be charged with blasphemy. Without pulling any punches local police advised the family that the next-door neighbors of Bashir are linked to serious criminal networks who the police would rather not confront. Instead the police forced an already perplexed family into a state of terror leaving them to dread potential blasphemy charges….

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