Christian family attacked by angry mob in Pakistan

A Christian was brutally beaten after being falsely accused of burning pages of the Quran. A fanatical mob destroyed their house and business. The victim is in the hospital, in critical condition.

A Christian family in Pakistan suffered a violent attack on May 25th at the hands of an angry Muslim mob, following a false accusation of blasphemy.

According to information gathered by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the accusation led to a new wave of terror against Christians.

Nazir Gill Masih, who owns a shoe factory in Sargodha, Pakistan, was beaten after allegations that he had burned pages of the Quran. Between seven and eight A.M., a mob attacked the family, ransacking and burning their factory and home. Although ten members of the family were able to escape, Masih was critically injured before the police arrived and removed him from the mob. He was taken to the hospital for urgent medical care. Ten days later he died of his injuries.

Naeem Yousaf Gill, executive director of the National Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, told ACN that the attacks were probably motivated by business rivalry and personal disputes. “The final reasons will become clearer after an investigation,” he said.

The Archbishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Joseph Arshad, visited Sargodha on the day of the attack. “I was shocked and very sad to learn about the violence. This incident was inhuman. I went immediately to Sargodha, because it is in my diocese, and I had to be with my people, to encourage them and my priests, and to speak to the administration to see if they are conducting a fair investigation,” he told ACN.

In a phone call with ACN, he urged the government to introduce strict policies against extremist violence and to ensure the security of the Christian community. “Nobody is allowed to take the law in his own hands, and this is happening in Pakistan. They should introduce policies to ensure that such incidents cannot happen again,” he said.

The Catholic leader explained that “the situation is under control now, but the Christian population still lives in fear. Most of them have left to stay with relatives. Caritas will stand by if they need any support.”

Different sources confirmed to ACN that Masih is in the intensive care unit, in critical condition. Brutal images and videos have been sent to the charity, showing a bloody and unconscious elderly man. “Another fellow who tried to save Mr. was also beaten by the mob,” said Gill. “The rest of the family hasn’t been hurt, and they are now in the custody of police,” Gill said.

Archbishop Joseph Arshad

Blasphemy is a capital crime in Pakistan and punishable by death or life in prison. However, blasphemy charges are often made in cases of false accusations, and mobs take matters into their own hands, ready to lynch the suspects.

Professor Shadid Mobeen, a contributor to ACN’s Religious Freedom in the World report and a nephew of the victim, confirmed the incident and the critical condition of Nazir, telling ACN that “the role of the international community and media is essential in pressuring Pakistan to protect its religious minorities from an extremist mindset.”

ACN strongly condemns this violence against the Christian community. The organization stands in solidarity with the affected family and all Christians in Pakistan.

This attack recalls the riots in Jaranwala that began on August 16, 2023, as the result of another false accusation of blasphemy. Rumors that two brothers disrespected the Quran began to spread. Mobs then proceeded to attack Christians, their homes, and places of worship.

—Maria Lozano