Saddique Azam, a Catholic Christian, was brutally beaten and tortured by his colleagues for not resigning from the post of headmaster. He was ambushed in his office and attacked upon his refusal to resign. The police have taken no action thus far, and the government has been putting pressure on Azam to compromise.
Azam was promoted to the post of headmaster in a village school in Pernawa three months ago. Although he wasn’t officially issued an appointment letter (due to his faith), six primary schools in the area came under his headship, said a family source.
Extremist Muslim teachers took issue with his promotion and ended up protesting before the District Education Office, refusing to work under the authority of a Christian. During the first two months he was harassed, derided, and subjected to verbal abuse by his fellows in an attempt to force him into resigning. The extremist Muslim teachers reportedly called him a “choora,” a derogatory term used for Christians in Pakistan. “You are a Christian and a choora, so how can you be a headmaster and our senior?” When Azam refused to yield to their unreasonable demands, he was ambushed in his office on the morning of October 6.
Upon entering his office he found three of his colleagues waiting for him. They asked him to either start covering for them when they are absent from school and answer to the department of education for them, or resign from the job. Azam refused to assist them illegally or resign, and the teachers attacked him. He was beaten and tortured and his left eye was seriously injured.
Some villagers and other staff from the school rescued him and called the police. Although the police initially arrested the attackers and registered an FIR, no further action was taken against them.
According to Pakistan Christian Post, the police were ordered not to take any action against the teachers. The directives were issued by Rana Iqbal Khan, elected representative of Pernawa (Kasur), Speaker of Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, and a member of PML (N), the ruling party of Pakistan. Instead, the police are harassing and pressuring Azam to compromise with the Muslim teachers if he wants to live in peace.
Photo Credits: Christians in Pakistan