Published: 12:00 GMT Daylight Time - Monday 22 August 2011
Pakistani Christian beaten by Muslims for celebrating Independence Day
Country/Region: Pakistan, South and East Asia
“How can you celebrate when you are Christian? Convert to Islam if you want to join the celebration.”
A Pakistani Christian man was beaten unconscious by a gang of Muslim extremists for joining in the celebrations on the country’s Independence Day.
Ashfaq Munawar was severely injured in the attack
Ashfaq Munawar was severely injured in the attack by six Muslim men, who hit him with iron rods, on 14 August; his jaw was fractured and he lost five teeth.
They approached him near Clifton sea front in Karachi where people were gathered to celebrate the anniversary of Pakistan’s independence in 1947. They asked Ashfaq if he was a Muslim or a Christian, and when he said that he was a Christian, they chided him for joining in the celebrations and told him to become a Muslim if he wanted to be included.
But Ashfaq refused. He said:
“I told them I will be never ever become a Muslim. Then they beat me badly with iron rods, iron hand clips. When I lay down on the surface they thought I died and then they fired in air with heavy weapons, and also crushed my motor bike with iron rods and they left me alone there.”
The police came to the scene, but rather than helping Ashfaq, they too beat him, took away his motorbike and left him there. A neighbour found the victim and took him home.
Just three days before this incident, Pakistan celebrated Minorities Day, which had been established in 2009 by Shahbaz Bhatti, the Christian minorities minister killed by Islamist assassins earlier this year.
At a formal ceremony to mark the day in the presidential palace in Islamabad, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said that the government was committed to “equal rights” for non-Muslims as enshrined in the constitution and as proclaimed by Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, in August 1947.
Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani also affirmed the principle, “It is our moral, religious and social obligation to strengthen the bond of love and promote culture of tolerance in the country.”
The assault of Ashfaq Munawar demonstrates that Pakistan still has a long way to go in this regard.
August 14 is a national holiday in Pakistan to mark the anniversary of the birth of the country, which was formed following the division of India at the end of British rule. It is celebrated with cultural festivities across the country.