A Muslim mob in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, burned alive a Christian man, the second burning death in the past three weeks and the 10th anti-Christian attack in Pakistan within just a month.
The explosion of anti-Christian attacks in an increasingly militant Pakistan is raising concern among human rights activists because of the country’s higher international profile.
A human rights activist who asked not to be named said the increased anti-Christian violence should make Western Christians take notice.
“Pakistan is continuing to try to get its blasphemy law included in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. If their blasphemy law is included, that will have a profound impact on how the U.N. views human rights,” the activist said.
“And Pakistan’s increasingly militant Islam will not only embolden Muslims against Christians across the Middle East; it will cause this kind of violence to spread to other parts of the world,” the activist said.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws include criminal penalties for anyone “mistreating” a copy of the Quran or saying anything deemed offensive against Islam’s prophet, Muhammad.
Section 295-C of Pakistan’s code says, “Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”
Section 298-A includes penalties for anyone who says or writes anything against Muhammad’s family members, associates or successors.
In the recent attack, a Rawalpindi Muslim mob, including Pakistani police officers, tried to force Arshed Masih to renounce his Christian faith and convert to Islam. Masih refused their demand and was burned to death.
One of three Muslim policemen watching the incident reportedly raped Masih’s wife while Masih’s body burned. The policeman sexually assaulted Masih’s wife Martha after she refused to convert to Islam.
International Christian Concern’s South Asia analyst Jonathan Racho says the attack is the result of bad feelings over the Christian couple’s leaving their place of employment.
“Arshed and his wife used to work for a powerful local businessman, Sheik Mohammad Sultan. Sheik Sultan asked them convert to Islam and both of them refused,” Racho said.
“The Muslims tried to convert him to Islam by force, and he refused. He said strongly that he was going to remain a Christian. It was at that point that they decided to burn him alive,” Racho said.
“Because both Masih and his wife refused to recant their Christian faith, Sheik Sultain decided to burn Masih to death. It’s a very sad story,” Racho said.
Masih was taken to Holy Family Hospital and treated for severe burns, but he died three days later, on March 24.
International Christian Concern staffers report Masih’s three children have suffered severe mental trauma as a result of the murder.
Racho said the incident proves that the Pakistani legal system clearly favors Muslims.
“Pakistani Christians are openly treated as second-class citizens in Pakistan. These brutal attacks prove that Pakistani police don’t care about the safety of Christians and don’t accept the rights of Christians,” Racho said.
In an earlier case, 37-year-old Asia Bibi still is being held and charged under Pakistan’s blasphemy law.
WND reported earlier Bibi had already been held for four months.
After waiting behind bars, 37-year-old Bibi was accused of blaspheming Muhammad for allegedly saying, “Jesus is alive. Muhammad is dead.”
Racho adds that Bibi is feeling the strain of her confinement.
“Her activities are extremely restricted and she feels the pressure from the officials there,” Racho said, adding her family is also feeling the pressure of Bibi’s arrest and confinement.
“Her mother is now judged to be insane. She is mentally incapacitated now because of the toll that the situation is having on her health,” Racho said.
“Her brother has left the place where he was living because of the pressure from Muslims who are harassing her family,” Racho said. “He was forced to leave the area.”
Bibi does have legal representation.
“She has a Muslim lawyer. The lawyer is someone she trusts and he has volunteered to help her because he knows her. Not all Muslims in Pakistan are against Christians. He is one of those examples,” Racho said.