Survivors Call for Culprits to Be Brought to Justice
10/12/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that two Christians in Pakistan were gunned down by a mob of Muslims following a property dispute that turned religious. Local human rights defenders claim that the deadly attack was the result of unchecked religious intolerance against minorities in Pakistan.
On October 8, Yaqoob Masih and his brother, Haroon Masih, were shot and killed by a mob of enraged Muslims in Village #2A, located in the Okara District. According to local witnesses, the attack on Yaqoob and Haroon was a result of a property dispute that turned religious between Christians and Muslims.
“A Muslim family had religious hatred against us and other Christians living in the village,” Indriyas Masih, an eyewitness and survivor of the attack, told ICC. “They never like the development of Christians in the village and therefore opposed us in getting a contract for a piece of land for cultivation.”
According to Indriyas, local Muslims were annoyed that the Christians applied to lease six acres of land for cultivation. After several months of arguments, local authorities settled the matter and awarded the lease of the land to the Christians.
“On the incident day, five of us went to the agricultural fields for irrigation work when a mob of over two dozen armed men attacked,” Indriyas continued. “The attack resulted in the killing of Yaqoob and Haroon.”
Indriyas identified nine members of the armed mob and shared that they shouted anti-Christian slogans as they opened fire on the five Christians. Local police registered a First Information Report (FIR #363/21) against the attackers and local Christians are hoping the culprits will be brought to justice.
“The Christians are treated as slaves bounded to Muslims,” Asif Muniwar, a local human rights defender, explained. “Christians enjoy no rights, no dignity, and no protection in this country. The overall system of society is based on religious hatred against Christians and other minorities.”
“The government must take practical steps to provide security for Christians and ensure justice for the Okara victims and their families,” Muniwar continued.
In Pakistan, disputes between Muslim and Christian communities often turn violent due to religious intolerance and widespread discrimination against religious minorities. In many cases, false accusations of blasphemy are utilized against Pakistani Christians to settle persecution scores or incite incidents of religious hatred. In the past, false blasphemy accusations have sparked mob lynchings, vigilante murders, and mass protests.
For Pakistan’s Christians, who make up only 1.6% of the country’s population, their treatment as second-class citizens often means that they are unable to obtain justice following instances of religiously motivated violence.
ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia, William Stark, said, “We here at International Christian Concern are deeply saddened by the murder of Yaqoob and his brother Haroon. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families. We are also troubled by yet another incident of deadly violence motivated by the widespread intolerance that exists against Christians in Pakistan. Pakistan must do more to combat the extremism and intolerance that motivates anti-Christian incidents like this. No one should be treated as a second-class citizen simply because of the faith they profess. In Pakistan, however, the faith you profess drastically affects how you are treated by society.”