Bashiran Bibi forced to live alone since her son Aftab Gill was accused of blasphemy
A Christian family accused of blasphemy narrowly escaped an extra-judicial killing after a Muslim lynch mob assembled to murder them.
Aftab Gill, 40, lived in Railway Colony in Wazirabad, Distt Gujranwala, and worked as a master tailor. He has five children, three sons and two daughters.
Their house is near a local mosque and, like many other local people, they regularly drew water from the water tap outside the mosque as no other
clean water mechanism is available in the community. The water was paid for as per the Mosque policy.
The Mosque tap where water can be bought.
On 14th August 2015, a young Muslim man named Zain Shah (18 years) from the neighbouring village told Aftab Gill's sons, Akash (12 years) and
Adnan (5 years) to convert to Islam, but they refused. On the same day, whilst Aftab was taking water from the water tap at the local mosque, the same
man shouted at Aftab and said:
"You Christians are not allowed to take water from the mosque. If you want to drink our water you must embrace Islam and pray regularly inside the mosque.
Otherwise evil infidels defile our water taps."
A few days later Zain Shah arrived with other Muslim men and again demanded the sons to convert to Islam. They slapped Gill's eldest son Akash who
refused to convert and at that point Aftab replied to the men, saying:
"You failed to convert Baba Guru Nanak (Founder of Sikh faith) so why pursue converting my children who follow the true and living God".
At this Zain and his friends started to beat the father and his sons, and while local police saw the altercation and intervened, they refused to lodge
an FIR against the Muslim aggravators. Two hours later Zain and his brother visited their home accompanied by a mob of about 200 men
ready to lynch the family. Thankfully a local called the police who dispersed the crowd before any violence occurred.
Later that day a few elders from the Christian community asked police officials to accompany them with Aftab so they could meet with the local cleric
to resolve the issue. Despite the general perception that local Muslim clerics deliver hate speeches in the mosque, this local chief priest (Molvi)
was refreshingly not of the same mind set. He assured the terrified Christian family that he would not allow the situation to escalate, but advised
that Aftab needed to leave the village for the sake of his own and his family's future, believing this also would reduce tension in the community.
Since then Aftab and his family have moved away from the area, leaving Aftab's distraught mother Bashiran Bibi living alone in the former family
home. She said:
"Life for Christians in Pakistan is now worse than ever: we are attacked daily and treated worse than rats. Muslims do not want us as their neighbours because they believe we are evil and have satanic diseases. My son and his family came close to death and we were all terrified when the mob came to our house. I prayed to God for His protection and by His grace we have survived, but now my children are far away from me and I am very lonely: my tears are constant."
There was no First Investigation Report (FIR) registered at the local police station as the issue was resolved amicably outside the criminal procedure.
There are a few other Christian families living in the same area and we are concerned for their safety. The tensions in the community have somewhat dissipated
but could erupt again at any time as no separate safe drinking water facility exists for the Christians, requiring them to also use the Mosque
tap. The BPCA would like to install a clean water pump in the area for this hard-pressed community and simply need to raise £750 for the installation.
We hope to install it in the local church whereby it can become a beacon of hope for our suffering minority.
Shamim Masih said:
"Living near any mosque for a Christian family in a Muslim dominated country like Pakistan could be dangerous at any time. I had a very similar experience
when I was living in Rawalpindi and we had a rented house near a mosque. Normally during hot summers, water levels dropped and we faced a shortage
of water. People used to collect water from the nearby mosque, paying them a small fee. I was forced to do the same and we happily paid our
contribution until one day the cleric came to know that we are from the Christian faith. Immediately the local cleric stopped us from taking water
from the mosque which caused us great difficulty."
"Later when we moved house we faced further discrimination. We saw a house for rent and agreed terms with the owner, but when I shared I was Christian with the landlord he refused us his house as he will not let it to a Christian. The majority of Muslims living in rural areas of the country think that Christians are inferior and unholy people. I remember the story of poor sister Asia Bibi who dared to drink water from the same cup as her Muslim co-worker, which led to a religious debate and her being arrested for blasphemy. Now she is suffering a life sentence in prison that may ultimately lead to her early demise."
The British Pakistani Christian Association would like to help Aftab Gill's family by supporting them through
the stressful and painful reality of being forced to leave their home due to persecution. We
would like to help them with six months rent which totals £600 and by providing food for 6 months,
which is £240. We hope that through the generosity of our donors we can illustrate the love of God
to this hurting family.
Please prayerfully consider helping Aftab Gill and his family. Donations can be sent using these bank details: