The mother of Ansar Masih, a 21-year-old Christian man who was severely burned with hot iron rods for allegedly befriending a young Muslim woman in Pakistan, says she has never seen such brutality before and is praying that God would bring justice "as it happens to so many young Christian men."
"My son's life is precious to me and was almost taken away from me, he has undergone brutality the likes of which I have never seen before," the victim's mother, Nasreen Bibi, said, according to the British Pakistani Christian Association. "I am still shocked by the violence that he has survived and thank God that he is recovering."
She continued, "The men that hurt him so badly deserve to be punished and I am praying God will bring justice into this situation as it happens to so many young Christian men."
Masih was attacked in Sheikhupura in Pakistan's Punjab province earlier this month by the father and brothers of the Muslim woman, identified as Jameela, because they did not approve of his "friendship" with her, according to the local Dawn newspaper.
The police complaint signed by Masih's sister says Masih first got to know the woman two years ago and the friendship grew over time. The two reportedly spoke on the phone often and Masih would visit the woman's neighborhood to meet her.
Masih says he is "still traumatized by the attack and am too scared to leave my home."
"The men hurt me so bad, they kicked me, punched me, bit me, spat at me, hit me with bars and then burnt me after I first watched them heat the poles they had beaten me with in their fireplace," he recalls. "I was simply a friend of Jameela we did not have any physical affair, but this family simply hate Christians and have enacted such brutality on me because to them I am just like rubbish."
He continued, "I lost consciousness during the burning and then found myself in hospital. I am still in pain and will be scarred for life but at least I am alive. God preserved my life and I will stay forever indebted to Him."
On April 1, Masih's mother sent him to collect some money from a friend in Jameela's neighbourhood. While he was riding his motorcycle, he was stopped by the woman's father and his sons, who waved their hands at him to stop. When he stopped they grabbed him and covered his head with a small sack and forcibly kidnapped him, taking him to their house, according to BPCA. Once he was taken to their home, the three assailants unclothed Ansar, beat him and burned him using hot iron rods until he lost consciousness.
The men then allegedly brought Ansar who was still unconscious to his house and told his family that he had met with an accident.
Masih's father said their family has been under pressure by the accused and local police to withdraw the complaint.
"The animosity that Muslims in Pakistan feel for Christians shows no signs of changing," BPCA Chairman Wilson Chowdhry said. "No amount of interfaith harmony projects in Pakistan will alter the longstanding pariah status of Christians, in the short term. If Christians are to survive in Pakistan there is no option to the government of Pakistan but ensure laws that are in place to counteract the hostility enacted."
He warned, "If this Muslim family is able to bribe themselves out of being convicted this will only serve to be a blight on the already poor image of Pakistan across the globe."
Mohammad Jibran Nasir, a 28-year -old lawyer, civil rights activist, blogger, and independent politician in Karachi, who brought Masih's case to light, helped raise money for the victim's ongoing treatment.
Violent persecution is common in Pakistan. Christians are targets for murder, bombings, abduction of women, rape, forced marriages and eviction from their home and country. Unjust and arbitrary blasphemy laws are also used to punish Christians and prevent evangelism.