Christians shot at and wounded for buying a house in a Muslim neighbourhood in Peshawar
by Shafique Khokhar

Police arrested the sons of the man responsible the attack who is still at large. Nadeem Joseph bought the house last month. He and his mother-in-law are in hospital but are out of danger. The attack was motivated by intolerance but the attackers are also cocaine traffickers.

Peshawar (AsiaNews) – Two members of a Christian family were shot and wounded after buying a house in a Muslim neighbourhood. The attack by some Muslim neighbours took place on 4 June in Sawati Phatak Colony, Peshawar

Yesterday police arrested several members if the same family in connection with the incident. Salman Khan, the head of the family, fled and is wanted by police.

A month ago, Nadeem Joseph bought a house for about 600,000 rupees (US,700), and moved in with his family in late May.

Once he found out that the 50-year-old Joseph and his family were Christians, Salman Khan went to tell them that they had to leave immediately because the neighbourhood was Muslim and that Christians (like Jews) are enemies of Islam.

For days, Khan and his children harassed Nadeem Joseph and his family, threatening serious consequences if the Christian family did not leave the house.

On the day of the attack, Khan showed up at the Christian house giving the residents a 24-hour ultimatum. Nadeem Joseph replied that he and his family had the right to live where they wanted and that they would not go away.

Noticing that Khan and his sons had guns, Joseph tried to call the police, but was shot in the belly before he could do so. The attackers then turned their weapons on other members of the Christian family, wounding Joseph’s mother-in-law in the shoulder.

No neighbour intervened to help the Christians. After calling the emergency ambulance service, Joseph and his mother-in-law were taken to Lady Reading Hospital, where they are still recuperating, and out of danger.

From his hospital bed, Joseph reported the incident to police officers.

For Khalid Shahzad, a Christian activist who is in touch with Joseph’s family and the police, this crime shows the high level of intolerance towards minorities in Pakistan.

“The main offender is still at large. Law enforcement agencies must do everything possible to capture him and bring him to justice, "Shahzad told AsiaNews.

However, behind the attack there is not only discrimination. For Joseph, “Salman Khan and his family are narrow minded people, but they are also involved in cocaine trafficking. Our presence could mean trouble for them.”