09/13/2017, 15.30
PAKISTAN
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School uniform became son’s shroud, says father of murdered Christian student

by Kamran Chaudhry

Sharoon Masih was murdered by his classmates on the third day of school. For the National Commission for Justice and Peace, the boy’s murder is the fault of school authorities. His death was not the result of “a fight among teenagers, but in fact it was caused by intolerance, discrimination and inhuman attitude”.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – "He was my eldest son. We thought the city school, 6 kilometres away from our village, would help him further his studies. I took a loan and we went together to buy his new uniform. He wore it only for one day and it became his shroud,” said Elyab Masih, father of Sharoon Masih, the Christian student killed by classmates in Burewala, Punjab, who spoke to AsiaNews about his son killed in an act of religious racism. “I could not even have a close look at his body,” he lamented.

The boy’s murder has shocked Pakistan’s Christian community. Yesterday, the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan responded to the latest episode of anti-Christian intolerance. In a joint statement, the Church organisations said that "discrimination and negligence of school authorities" are the cause of the murder.

“It is unfortunate to observe that the Government of Pakistan seems more concerned with the infrastructure of schools and physical security of buildings than with the qualitative aspect of the education system. We and our children are living in a society where hatred, discrimination, bullying and ill feeling towards caste, creed, religion and social status is ingrained amongst pupils.”

NCJP president Mgr Joseph Arshad, NCJP national director Fr Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, and NCJP executive director S. Cecil Chaudhry bemoan the fact that Sharoon, 17, died only three days after he started attending the Government MC High School. In a class of 70 students, he was the only Christian.

The Catholic leaders added that Raza Ahmed, the Muslim classmate who sparked the attack and is now under investigation for murder, belongs to the Kumhar, a feudal caste.

“On his first day of school, he (the Christian pupil) faced bullying and taunts from classmates, which intensified on the day of his death. According to teachers Ahmed had anger management issues,” the NCJP officials noted.

“This may seem as a fight among teenagers, but in fact it was caused by intolerance, discrimination and inhuman attitude towards the minority and marginalised communities,” they added.

The Commission stressed that Sharoon "was a boy who sought to educate himself. It was the duty of the teachers to control and stop such incidents of discrimination in the classroom.”

“The teachers should have been supportive and understanding towards students, especially when one is being bullied due to his faith. Unfortunately, in Sharoon’s case, we saw that there was no human value among his classmates.”

For Fr Mani, "the only example of hope was the attitude of the students who took Sharoon to the hospital. They are indeed an inspiration of hope and true example of God’s teachings of humanity.”

Mgr Arshad said that the NCJP would provide legal aid to the boy’s family, urging the authorities to do justice by them.

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