Christian villages experience “religious cleansing,” while several Christian children have been raped in Karachi.
by Daniela Bovolenta
Christian villagers in Pakistan continue to denounce on social media attacks by mobs and ineffective intervention by the police.
A village called Chak 5 in the Okara district of Punjab witnessed the latest in a string of violent incidents. On May 15, some 200 Muslims armed with sickle blades, axes, and batons attacked the section of the village where 80 Christian families, most of them Catholic, live. Knowing that similar incidents have resulted in women from minority religions being raped, the Christians closed their wives and daughters inside their homes, and fought to prevent the mob from breaking in. They succeeded, but eight Christians emerged from the fight with fractured bones, and one lost a thumb to a sickle blade.
The attackers claimed that the raid was a retaliation after a prominent member of the local Muslim community had been offended by Catholic young boys who allegedly threw dust at him while cleaning St. Thomas Catholic Church in Chak 5.
The police arrived only the following day. Father Khalid Rashid, director of the Diocesan Commission for Harmony and Interfaith Dialogue in the Catholic Faisalabad Diocese, posted on Facebook the FIR (First Information Report) registered with the police, but expressed his skepticism that those responsible will really be punished.
Christian villagers increasingly leave the rural areas and seek refuge in large cities. But they are not safe there either. On May 5, Christians took to the streets in Karachi to protest the rape of a 10-year-old girl by a 26-year-old Muslim, the brother of her teacher. It is not the first rape of a Christian young girl in the same Christian neighborhood, Essa Nagri, in Karachi. In September 2020, a five-year-old girl was raped and murdered. In May 2021, a 10-year-old girl barely escaped being raped; her assailant was incriminated for “sexual assault.” This time, the brave child victim appeared on the Christian TV S.O.G. to tell her story.
Protests were turning violent when finally, on May 19, the police appeased the Christians by arresting the man accused of the rape.