Pakistan Muslim Extremists Kill Christian; Injure Evangelists

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

By Worthy News Asia Service
SARGODHA, PAKISTAN (Worthy News)-- Christians on Tuesday, December 22, were mourning a Christian man who was shot dead by Muslim extremists while other believers recovered from injuries after an apparent Muslim attack on an evangelistic meeting showing the Jesus Film in Pakistan's tense Punjab province.
Patras Masih was shot because he refused to recant his faith in Christ, and died from gunshot wounds on December 3 in Karol village, his family said.
Locals said Masih had received an ultimatum after being falsely accused of killing a Muslim, identified as Anees Mahammad.
He was allegedly told he would not be killed if he abandoned Christianity and "embrace Islam." However, "My son bravely refused to recant Christianity and clung to Christ," said the man's father, Gulzar Masih, his voice trembling.
After his son refused to recite the Islamic conversion creed, three Muslims known locally sprayed bullets at his chest, killing him instantly, Masih explained.
The attack came shortly before elsewhere in Punjab province dozens of Muslim villagers, armed with clubs and axed, attacked a showing of the film "Jesus" about the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, witnesses said.  At least three part-time evangelists and four spectators were reportedly injured in the December 9 attack near the city of Sargodha.
Christians have expressed concerns about the alleged refusal by local police to investigate these cases.  Police had no comment, although Pakistan's government has made clear it wants to crackdown on Islamic extremism.
Speaking from hospital, Evangelists  Ishtiaq Bhatti, Imtiaz Ghauri and Kaleem Ghulam suggested they were surprised by the attack of some 50 Muslim villagers as they were screening the film within the premises of a Catholic Church. "They threatened to kill us and left us injured. They also broke all our appliances and took away funds" collected by fellow worshipers,  Bhatti said.
"Muslim men also injured those Christian villagers who tried to intervene and stop them," he added.
The violence underscored mounting religious tensions in Punjab province and other areas of Pakistan, where Christians form a minority. (With reporting by Worthy News' Jawad Mazhar from Pakistan).