ASIA/PAKISTAN -Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - Nauman Masih, the 14-year-old Pakistani Christian, who was burnt alive by a group of unknown young Muslims a few days ago (see Fides 13/04/2015), passed away this morning in the hospital in Lahore. The news was reported to Agenzia Fides from local sources in Pakistan. The boy had been stopped and assaulted after declaring he was a Christian. The young Muslims poured petrol over his body. He had severe burns on 55% of his body.
According to some observers, the gesture may be a revenge after the lynching of two Muslims which happened in Youhanabad - declared innocent - following the attack against the two churches on March 15.
After the public lynching in Lahore the police raided several homes in Youhanabad and arrested more than 100 young Christians to track down the culprits. "Christians condemned the lynching, saying openly that it is a big crime. However in many cases in the past innocent Christians were burnt alive: the mass attacks in the Christian neighborhood in Gojra, Shantinagar, or the Christian couple burnt alive in a brick kiln in November 2014", says to Fides Fr. James Channan, Dominican, Director of the "Peace Center" in Lahore, committed to promoting initiatives of peace, harmony, reconciliation, inter-religious dialogue.
"This episode shows the hatred that circulates in society. We need to work more on dialogue and harmony among believers of different religions", notes Fr. Channan.
Shahbaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Punjab, called for those responsible to be arrested. The Director of "Peace Center" concludes: "I would say that today we are in the worst period in history for the life of Christians in Pakistan. Discrimination, suffering, oppression often become real persecution. Today we ask the government: where is justice? Where are the perpetrators of many incidents of gratuitous violence committed against Christians?".
Mervyn Thomas, director of the NGO "Christian Solidarity Worldwide", said in a statement sent to Fides: "We pray for the young boy and for his family. It is difficult to believe that one can kill a boy simply because of his faith and this is extremely worrying. The culture of impunity must end, and religious minorities must be guaranteed the rights of all citizens in Pakistan". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 15/04/2015)