Christian Pakistanis Forced Out of Homes

Nine Pakistani Christian families have reportedly been forced to leave their houses after a man of their community married a Muslim woman in Sahiwal district of Punjab, the third such incident in the province.

Shahab Masih, a young man of the Christian community, married a Muslim woman Rukhsana Kausar, who is in her early 20s last month, Abid Masih said.

"Last month the couple contracted a court marriage. The Muslims of the village warned us to produce the girl or face serious consequences. We told them that Shahab lived in Khanewal and they should better visit his place to settle the issue but to no avail," he said.

Shahab from Khanewal district of Punjab, some 400 kilometers from Lahore, often visited his relatives in Sahiwal where he developed friendship with the girl.

Jamil Husain, the girl's father, has filed an abduction case in Shahkot police against Shahab, his two family members.

"It was not only the FIR against my two family members, but the whole Muslim community of the village turned against the Christians and started hurling death threats at us. The Christian elders of the locality then finally decided to leave their village and sought refuge?somewhere else to save their lives," Abid said.

This was the third such incident in recent times in Punjab when the Christians families have been forced by Muslims to leave their residences.

The other two incidents took place in Sargodha and Narowal districts.

The police have registered a case against Shahab Masih and others for kidnapping a Muslim girl, Sub-Inspector Muhammad Riaz said.

He said the police also received an application from the Christians of the village that they had been receiving threats related to the case.

"We have arrested no one as yet. Knowing the sensitivity of the case we will lay hand on anyone after a thorough probe," Riaz said.

"We have brought the matter to the knowledge of the Punjab home secretary. The 25 members of?nine families have to leave their residences and shops in Sahiwal because they had serious threats from the Muslims of area," said Aslam Sahotra, Christian leader and head of Human Liberation Front Pakistan.

Sahotra requested Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to provide security to the affected Christians and ensure their resettlement.

Last week, a Muslim mob burnt alive a young Christian couple after throwing them in the brick kiln furnace on the charges of allegedly desecrating the Quran.

(source)

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