Muslim mob attack Christian family in Pakistan; Christian and Muslim neighbours intervene to protect daughters from being burned alive

A Christian father of ten living in the village of Bugri, in the Kasur district of Pakistan’s Punjab province, was severely beaten and shot at by a Muslim mob on Thursday 16 June. Jhoora Masih survived a gunshot that injured his hand but he and his family sustained several other injuries. The attackers even attempted to burn his daughters alive but were prevented from doing so by the family’s Christian and Muslim neighbours.

Jhoora Masih – who works with his children as agricultural labourers – last year loaned 56,000 rupees (£400, $535, €485) to a Muslim villager called Muhammad Naveed to be repaid over six months. On the day of the attack, Jhoora Masih approached Muhammad Naveed requesting the remaining balance of 26,000 PKR. Muhammad Naveed responded by abusing and threatening Jhoora Masih, warning him of the consequences if he continued asking for his money back.

Around midnight, Muhammad Naveed and a group of 12–15 men carrying guns and heavy wooden sticks attacked Jhoora Masih’s house. They opened fire and Jhoora Masih, trying to protect his eldest son, was shot in the hand. Some of the group attempted to burn his daughters, until the family’s Christian and Muslim neighbours intervened to protect them.

During the attack, Jhoora Masih’s donkey cart and other household items were burnt, and some cash was stolen.

The police were initially unwilling to register the attack, which tends to happen with incidents involving attacks by Muslims on Christians in Pakistan, but after pressure from the local Christian community the case was registered on Saturday 18 June. Muhammad Naveed and his friends have since returned to the village to threaten Jhoora Masih and persuade him to drop the complaint registered against them.

Khalid Shahzad, a human rights activist, told Barnabas Fund that Christians in Pakistan feel very vulnerable because, being poor and discriminated against, it is very difficult for them to ensure justice is brought against those who attack them. This leaves many Christians despondent and fearful.

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