Pakistan Police Detain Suspected Rapists Of Christian Girl; More Violence Reported

By BosNewsLife Asia News Service

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- Pakistani police have detained two Muslim boys for allegedly raping a Christian girl and advocacy groups hope it will encourage security forces to also take action against others attacking minority Christians in this heavily Islamic nation.

Muhammad Noman and Muhammad Imran, both 17, allegedly abducted the girl from her school in Kamboh colony in the city of Lahore in Pakistan's Punjab Province on May 6. They drugged the girl before sexually assaulting her, said officials of the Christian Lawyers Foundation and the National Commission of Justice and Peace.

The minor, whose name was withheld, reportedly told the organizations that Noman and Imran forcefully took her by motorbike to an unknown location and made her drink a beverage containing tranquilizers.

The boys allegedly left her on a road near the school’s main entrance.

There was no comment from defense lawyers of the boys. Amid pressure from advocacy groups, local police detained the teenagers May 26, on charges that included abducting “with intent to commit adultery,” rights activists said.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS? 

Advocacy groups suggested the move was remarkable in a country where they say law enforcements seem reluctant to take actions against Muslim extremists Christians.

It was unclear whether the decision to arrest the boys would also lead to the detention of others suspected of using violence against Pakistani Christians, including a dozen armed Muslim men who allegedly attacked a pastor and his family on May 28 in the Smundri area of Punjab province's Faisalabad District.

In comments monitored by BosNewsLife Saturday, June 5, Pastor Mubarak Masih said he and his family were assaulted because his 13-year-old nephew refused to read verses from the Koran, viewed as a holy book by Muslims, despite pressure from his school teacher.

Twelve "Islamists beat the pastor’s head with sticks and rods; almost killed his brother when they shot him, grazing his head and causing a minor injury; and broke their mother’s left arm," added International Christian Concern, an advocacy group closely monitoring the case.

It came after the teacher, identified as Zufair Gujhar, allegedly pressured him and other Christian students to accept Islam, by forcing them to read the Koran and other Islamic books. There was no immediate comment from Gujhar.

Pastor Mubarak, who leads a Church of God congregation, said in a statement that his church would continue its mission work "at any cost and no one can stop us." Advocacy activists say these and other attacks are part of a wider Islamic campaign against religious minorities in Pakistan and they have urged authorities to increase protection for Christians, who comprise less than five percent of Pakistan's population.

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