Teen social media influencer apologises for insulting Pakistani Christian maid

30 November 2020

A young social media influencer in Pakistan apologised sincerely after posting a Facebook online video in which she refers to her Christian maid as a “churi”, a term of derision commonly taken to mean latrine cleaner that is often used to insult Christians.

In the video, which drew 19,000 views, Muslim teenager Nimra Ali made a derogatory comment about her household’s Christian maid saying, “She doesn’t take a bath. She is the churi of our house. Are you a churi? … no, no, no.”

Teenager Nimra Ali pictured in her social media video

Nimra removed the video after an outcry from online users, including Christian network News Net Pakistan, and said sorry for her “mistake”. “These comments couldn’t let me sleep last night. Some of my friends are Christians. I will be careful next time,” she said.

The word “churi” or chuhra, is derived from the name of the low-caste group from which the majority of the Christian population in Pakistan today are descended. But its meaning has become synonymous with dirty and dangerous menial jobs – street sweeping, working in sewers and latrine cleaning – that are the only form of work available to most Pakistani Christians.

The label has also been used in violent attacks on Christians. In February this year, Saleem Masih, a Pakistani farm labourer, was called a chuhra and a “filthy Christian” whilst being tortured to death by a Muslim farm owner with sticks and heated iron rods. A Muslim mob attacked and evicted the only Christian family in the Punjab village of Gujar Khan in 2018, calling them chuhra while beating them “mercilessly”.

Christians, about 3% of the population in Pakistan, are despised and discriminated against by the Muslim-majority. Most Christians live in poverty, confined to low-paid menial jobs. Christian women working as domestic servants are particularly vulnerable to abuse. In August 2020, a domestic servant was beaten and accused of theft after refusing her employer’s demands to convert to Islam.

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