A radical Muslim mob in Pakistan’s capital city burned down the house of a Christian family and attempted to burn them alive earlier this month. The mob attacked 38-year-old Boota Masih’s family home in Islamabad by violently banging on the door and screaming for him to step outside. When Masih answered the door, the leader of the mob demanded that his family surrender their home and leave behind all of their belongings. The leader also warned Masih that if he did not comply, the agitated mob would make them suffer miserable consequences.
Masih told the media that the mob wanted to take over his family property by accusing him of having trespassed in his own home.
“I was terror stricken, the mob was threatening to kill me and my family. They had weapons in their hands and started to brandish them before me. I thought they would kill all of us,” Masih explained. “I refused to leave my home — I had paid for it fairly and they had no right to ask me to leave.”
When Masih refused to comply with the leader’s illogical demands, the mob reportedly started to beat him up with metal rods and wooden sticks before locking him inside his own home and setting it on fire. Even though his house was eventually burnt down, Masih managed to escape with his entire family that is comprised of his wife and six children.
“I broke the door down using all my strength, desperate to live and to save my family,” Masih explained. “Soon other local Christians came to rescue us. They put out the flames and called the fire brigade.”
Masih said that he had purchased the property in an oral agreement for a million Pakistani rupees from a certain Ghulam Ali. His family had been living in the house for only a few months before the Muslim mob attacked them on September 10. Masih believes that the leader of the mob was Ali’s wife.
According to media reports, the local police have refused to register a case against the mob, despite the presence of several eyewitnesses and a case being lodged to the concerned authorities. Instead, Masih was arrested after Ali filed a false complaint against him for having attacked a certain woman who went to collect rent from the Christian family.
British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) started a donation campaign to raise funds for Masih’s family after they were attacked. The misery of the Masihs and the authorities’ reluctance to crack down on the violent perpetrators who set ablaze his home is yet another example of how Christians are denied their basic rights in a Muslim-majority nation. Open Doors USA 2015 World Watch list ranked Pakistan as the eighth most difficult country for Christians to live in.
According to BPCA, even though certain changes are being initiated to reform sections of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws that continue to persecute religious minorities, Britain and America should reconsider the ways in which they offer financial assistance to the country if they want to bring about real social change.
“The proposed changes will ostensibly make it more difficult for blasphemy charges to be laid, focusing on proving that any blasphemy was intentional under a legal concept termed Mens Rea, translated as 'guilty mind,'” Wilson Chowdhry, president of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said. “However the large number of extra-judicial killings and insouciance from local police to get involved in blasphemy charges or a pattern of local police authorities cowing under pressure from mobs led by local imams, suggest this law change will have little effect.”
Photo Credits: Christian Post