(AsiaNews) - A
Christian woman was harassed, beaten and stripped in public by some Muslims belonging
to the local land mafia because in her family people like to dress up too much.
Her son almost suffered a worse fate. When he tried to help her, they fire at
him but narrowly missed. As tragic as this is, it
is typical of the violence and persecution Christians endure. More than a month
after the incident, which occurred in mid-March, both police and the courts
have not brought any redress or punished the offenders. "These thugs pursue
their own interests," a local priest said; in so doing, they violate the rights
of the "weakest elements in society."
Shamin Bibi, a 42-year-old mother
of five, works in a brick kiln. She is originally from Chak 179 G.B., in Gojra,
a town in Toba Tek Singh District (Punjab), where several
Christians died in an attack in 2009.
During her brutal assault, her
attackers badly beat her and ripped her clothes off. When her 22-year-old son Naqshaq
Masih tried to intervene, they attacked him with bricks and shot at him. Luckily,
Two Muslim landlords, brothers Sajid
Ali and Abid Ashan, were responsible for the attack. They exert a mafia-style control
over the area.
The reason for their action
appears even more absurd than the action itself. They do not want Christians to
"dress up", even on holidays or Sunday for Mass.
As second-class subjects, not much
better than animals, minority Christians are not allowed to wear elegant
clothes. They can only dress rough garments. In the past, they have often been subject
to mafia-styled threats and "warnings". In
fact, another of Shamin Bibi's sons had to flee to avoid being killed.
On the day of the atatck, the Christian
woman was at home alone with a daughter, and pleaded to the men to go away
because there was no male member of the family present.
Initially, police opened a first
information report and arrested the offenders. However, a week later they were
released after paying off the police.
On Monday, Shamin Bibi filed a
suit against her attackers, appearing before a district judge in Gojra. The latter
however rejected her application. Her family plans to continue their battle for
justice but their chances in court are slim.
A resident in her town spoke to AsiaNews on condition of anonymity. "Landlords
have no pity," he said. "They can only waste the wealth" their parents
accumulated. They engage in violence and abuse the poor. "If the latter refuse
to follow their orders, they are beaten." These people "walk
around with guns and have no respect for Christians," he said.
Fr Yaqub Yousaf, a parish priest
in Gojra, agrees. "Social injustice and divisions are used by cruel landlords
to protect their vested interests and maintain people on the margins of our
society in conditions of inferiority."