A Pakistani Christian Family Threatened and Attacked In Church-Land Dispute

Source:  www.assistnews.net

Date:  2013-05-02

By Rodrick Samson
Special to ASSIST News Service

LAHORE, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Sadiq Masih Zafar, a resident of Muridke, part of Sheikhpura district, has reported that his family has been threatened and pressurized to convert to Islam and because of these problems, they are forced to keep a daughter at home.

According to a source, Zafar was living with his family in Muridke, when the Lahore Church Council bought some land for church in 1988 and began the construction of building. They then appointed Mr. Zafar to administer the building process.

However, local religious extremists tried to pressurize the authorities and were able to stop the construction of the church and took over land, demolished the structure, then brutally assaulted Zafar, his family members, and even the workers.

Mr. Zafar then filed a case with the police and managed to get the land vacated, but a mosque was constructed very quickly near the church land within days and announcements were made that if the church was re-built, they would burn it to the ground.

The extremists started pressuring Zafar and his family to convert to Islam, he filed a complaint but, he claimed that the police didn't help.

Zafar's daughter, Sarwat Naheed, was returning home from the Faisalabad hostel where she had been staying, and was abducted by masked men, they broke her legs, she suffered a severe head injury as they tried to strangle her, and she was found unconscious in nearby fields.

A few days later, Zafar's son, Azeem Zafar, was stopped on his way home and was also assaulted. These events forced Sadiq Masih and his family to leave Muridke and settle in Lahore. But the extremists didn't stop looking for them.

On March 27, at around 11pm, as the family was sitting together in Bahar colony Lahore, masked men forcefully entered their home and locked up Azeem Zafar, Sarwat Naheed, Sharoon Zafar, Farhat Yasmeen, Taqdees Sadiq, Asma Tosheeba and Sadiq Zafar, and they pressurized them to convert or they would be killed.

The frightened family filed a complaint, but the police failed to act and the family went into hiding.

Recently Asma Tosheeba joined a medical school, where she was threatened and the extremists tried abduct her. In view of all of this, the family is appealing for protection, but once again, the law enforcing agencies have failed to act.

The family says saying that it is forced to keep Asma at home so that she doesn't get abducted like Sarwat Naheed and suffer a similar fate, and she is said to now be undergoing psychological treatment and is still in trauma.

Father Suleman John from the Lahore Diocese said, "This is an unfortunate incident, an example of the religious intolerance. The religious extremists brutally carry out their acts without any problem as they don't fear the law. The law enforcing agencies are helpless against them making the religious minorities vulnerable. Punjab is the hub of religious persecution, and it is time for the authorities to act or we will be witnessing many more such incidents."

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