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» 03/24/2010
PAKISTAN
Rawalpindi, Christian burned alive is buried. Police suspected of setting him on fire
by Fareed Khan
Arshed Masih's funeral was held today amid tight security. The silence of the Pakistani media and government on the matter. AsiaNews sources denounce the attempt at misdirection and reveal the last words of the victim: "The police set me on fire" following the instructions of the Muslim employer. In the past his wife repeatedly raped by officers.

Rawalpindi (AsiaNews) - the funeral of Arshed Masih, a 38 year-old Pakistani Christian, burned alive because he refused to convert to Islam was held today in Rawalpindi, under tight security. Hundreds of people attended the funeral, including members of civil society and NGO representatives. So far the police have arrested none of the alleged perpetrators and neither have steps been taken by the Federal Government or Ministry of minority groups. Meanwhile, more details have emerged on the crime: a well-informed source has told AsiaNews that police officers were the ones to set fire to the man, on the "instructions" of  Arshed Masih.

The 38 year-old Pakistani Christian, married and father of three children, aged7 to 12, died on 22 March following the serious injuries sustained during the assault. He suffered burns on 80% of his body excluding any possibility of salvation. The violence of his assailants was sparked by the man’s refusal to convert to Islam.  

Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the Justice and Peace of the Catholic Church of Pakistan (NCJP), confirmed to AsiaNews, his "strongest condemnation of this act brutal" and underlined that "a team has reached Rawalpindi and launched a parallel investigation into the facts”. He adds that "soon will we release a report, after proper verification of all elements”. The activist denounces, with regret, the silence of the Pakistani media about the incident and the lack of initiatives from the federal government and the Ministry of minority groups.  

Meanwhile, rumours have begun circulating that Arshed Masih set fire to himself to protest against repeated violence and torture of his wife Martha Arshed, by police. The abuse allegedly took place in the police station, where the woman was summoned several times by officers after a complaint of theft by Sheikh Mohammad Sultan, the employer of the Christian couple. In the house of wealthy Muslim businessman cash for a value of 500 thousand rupees (about 6 thousand dollars) has disappeared.  

Christian sources for AsiaNews in Pakistan deny this version, noting that some "elements" are casting doubt on the sexual violence and overturning the facts "to exonerate the employer and the police." An eyewitness, present in the hospital when Arshed Masih - still conscious - recounted the events to the investigators, says that "it was the police to set fire" to the man. The victim also added that "the police carried out the instructions of Sheikh Mohammad Sultan, at the scene along with other extremists."

Since 2005 Arshed Masih and his wife had worked and lived on the estate of the late Sheikh Mohammad Sultan. The pressure on them to renounce Christianity had lately become incessant. The owner had come so far as to threaten "dire consequences", to persuade them to embrace Islam. The couple were also accused of a recent theft by the owner who has promised to drop the complaint for their conversion.  

BosNewsLife.com reports that the Muslim businessman has declined to comment on the crime. However some eyewitnesses have seen him near the place where the accident occurred, but it is unclear whether he actively participated in the attack. Their children - adds the site - are sleeping in the hospital because they are homeless. The mother is still in shock and is unable to speak.  


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See also
05/02/2009 PAKISTAN
Christian families flee Punjab in wake of presumed blasphemy case
by Qaiser Felix
03/12/2010 PAKISTAN
Punjab: Christian maid burned alive to prevent her from reporting a rape
by Fareed Khan
02/22/2010 INDIA
Punjab: clashes between Christians and Hindu extremists, Protestant church burned
by Nirmala Carvalho
08/02/2009 PAKISTAN
Eight Christians burned alive in Punjab
by Fareed Khan
02/20/2012 NEPAL
Nepali widow burned alive, accused of witchcraft
by Kalpit Parajuli

Editor's choices
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"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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