Yesterday Friday 10th April Muslim extremists tried to burn a Christian teenager alive in Lahore. The boy, 15 year old Nouman Masih,
was shutting up shop in the Tailor’s shop he was working at, at about the time Muslims were going to Friday prayers when two young men came up to him and
asked him his religion. When he said ‘Christian’ they started to beat him, and when he ran away, they chased him, threw petrol on him and set him
alight. He came across a pile of sand and dirt and dived into it. Two local Christians came to the rescue and put out the flames, and called
an ambulance for the now unconscious Nouman. Medics say he suffered severe burns, about 55%, but that he should make a good recovery.
An FIR has been registered and the police have taken Nouman’s statement at the hospital. Something of the desperate fear Christians are under since
the suicide bombings can be found by the fact that Nouman reported an intuition, a fear, that someone would try and kill him, something that his family
and employer had dismissed. His aunt and uncle, who act as his parents after his father died, were desperately afraid that the police would intimidate
him into changing his statement. This – along with fear of the attackers – may well explain the conflicting statements, even in the same reports,
that said both that the perpetrators were unknown to Nouman, and that he knew who they were. Reports are that Mr Sharif, Punjab’s Chief Minister,
has ‘taken note’ of the case.
Local Christians say that they have been living under fear because of the hatred against them. This has massively increased since the double suicide
bombings of Lahore churches last month, when a small number of Christians in the immediate aftermath beat and burnt to death two gunmen accomplices
of the bombers. The media and gunman has declared them innocent bystanders, contrary to eyewitness reports at the scene that reported them as
opening fire as the bombers went in. They were initially held by the police, but then seized from them by the killers. The killing of the
two gunmen – portrayed as innocent Muslim bystanders – has provided a pretext for the already existing hatred. Police have been indiscriminately
beating and arresting Christians, asking for bribes under the guise of paying ‘tax’ or ‘restitution’ for the killings, whilst the deaths of 17 Christians
has been downplayed. They have also targeted a number of Christian rights activists. Pakistani politicians, say local activists, have said
that burning of anyone is a great crime, but have remained largely silent when innocent Christians are burnt alive, such as the young couple thrown
alive into a brick kiln in November 2014, but raise a storm in this case.