Pakistani Christian Beaten Almost to Death

Monday, May 2, 2005

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

PAKISTAN (ANS) -- A Pakistani Christian who was shown kindness by his Muslim employer has been attacked and beaten by a gang of Muslims.

Shahbaz Masih was attacked by a group of seven or eight Muslims from his village on April 23 and left for dead, with both legs broken, says a report from the Barnabas Fund.

In an e-mail report from Barnabas Fund, the Christian human rights organization says Masih's assailants are believed to be jealous of any success within the Christian community, and apparently singled him out because he was favorably treated by his Muslim boss.

Shahbaz Masih lives in a predominantly Muslim village called Chak No. 2 Mandi Baha-Uddin, south of the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

Barnabas Fund says there are some 20-25 Christian families in the village who mostly work as agricultural laborers for Muslim landowners. Shahbaz, a young man in his twenties, was a tractor driver for Mir Hussein, who treated him kindly, apparently because he was an honest and hard worker.

The Barnabas Fund report continues: "This kindness from a Muslim to a Christian caused resentment amongst the Muslim group who attacked Shahbaz last Saturday, reports a local church leader, who adds the group were also angered by two Christians doing well in their studies at school and university recently. According to one report the group had tried to force Shahbaz to convert to Islam. He is now in a critical condition in hospital."

According to Barnabas Fund, many Muslims in Pakistan regard Christians as second-class citizens, “unclean,” and despicable. There are approximately three million Christians in Pakistan, about 2 percent of the population.

Barnabas Fund works to support Christian communities mainly, but not exclusively, in the Islamic world where they are facing poverty and persecution.