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Pakistan: Christian family shot by radical mob for buying house in Muslim neighborhood

Pakistan: Christian family shot by radical mob for buying house in Muslim neighborhood

Reuters

A Christian family in Pakistan was shot last week for buying a house in a Muslim neighborhood. 

On Sunday, police in the city of Peshawar in the Khybar Pakhtunkhawa province arrested the sons of a man accused of shooting two members of the Christian family after they purchased a home in late May in the Sawati Phatak colony, Asia News reports

The alleged perpetrator, Salman Khan, is still at large. 

After Khan found out that his new neighbors were Christian, the Catholic press agency reports Khan told the family they had to leave the neighborhood immediately because Christians are seen as the enemy of Islam. 

What followed was days of alleged harassment against Nadeem Joseph and his family. 

The family was said to have been threatened with consequences if they did not leave their new home.

Khan is accused of giving the family a 24-hour ultimatum on Sunday. But Joseph refused to leave his home. He tried to call the police once he noticed that Khan and his sons had returned with weapons. 

That's when Joseph was shot in the stomach by his attackers who also shot his mother-in-law in the shoulder. 

Joseph and his mother-in-law were taken to a nearby hospital and their injuries do not appear to be life-threatening. 

Joseph recorded a video message from his hospital bed, according to International Christian Concern, a U.S.-based Christian persecution watchdog group. From there, Joseph said that at one point, he was told that his new neighborhood was "meant for Muslim residents only" and that "Christians and Jews are the opponents of Muslims."

Christian activist Khalid Shahzad, who is in touch with the family, told Asia News that the shooting is an example of the religious intolerance found in Pakistan. 

"The main offender is still at large," Shahzad was quoted as saying in an article Monday. "Law enforcement agencies must do everything possible to capture him and bring him to justice."

Open Doors USA ranks Pakistan as the fifth-worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution and notes that Christians are generally "regarded as second-class citizens."

There are various forms of Christian persecution in Pakistan, including laws that criminalize blasphemy that are often abused by Muslims to take advantage of religious minorities. 

Christians in Pakistan have been killed by societal mob violence ever since the country's founding. Additionally, there have been several occasions in which Muslim radicals have attacked churches in Pakistan. 

In 2018, the U.S. State Department added Pakistan to its list of "countries of particular concern" that tolerate or engage in systemic and egregious violations of religious freedom. 

At the time, U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, told reporters that Pakistan is home to half of the world's blasphemy law cases. Christians and other religious minorities have languished in Pakistani prisons for years after Muslims falsely accused them of insulting Islam or its prophet, Muhammad. 

Christian couple Shagufta Kausar and her husband, Shafqat Emmanuel, have been on death row for over six years over false blasphemy charges of sending a text message insulting the Islamic prophet. Last week, their final hearing before the Lahore High Court was delayed

Christian mother Asia Bibi spent nearly a decade languishing in a Pakistani prison after Muslim field workers accused her of insulting their prophet. She was acquitted by Pakistan's Supreme Court in October 2018, which sparked national unrest and protests by radical Muslims. 

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

or Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

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