By Jawad Mazhar, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan
KARACHI, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– A Christian worker, his Muslim wife and their baby remained in hiding Sunday, November 14, nearly a month after some 20 armed Muslim gunmen allegedly attacked their rented house in an area of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city.
Shahbaz Javed told BosNewsLife that the armed mob “invaded” the home in Gulzar Colony on October 16 to protest against his marriage with Mehwish Naz, a Muslim. He said the attack began while they celebrated the second anniversary of their interfaith wedding.
“We were enjoying our marriage anniversary at home when suddenly someone started to bang at the door and apparently tried to break the iron door…Soon after unidentified men started shooting in the air and later shot straight at the iron gate of our house,” Javed told BosNewsLife by telephone from his undisclosed hide-out.
“An invisible hand saved me and my family,” he added. “We managed to flee via the back doors, shortly before they entered.” He said other Muslims also gathered in front of their house and added that the crowd became “infuriated” when told that he had married a Muslim woman. “If we would have stayed even for a couple of minutes the crowd could have killed us.”
He said the attack followed threats by his wife’s family members after he married Naz against the will of her parents on October 16, 2008. Javed said he met Naz at the nearby leather factory where they worked and fell in love.
The couple has a three-month-old daughter, Muqadas Parveen, but Muslim family members refuse to recognize their marriage, he explained. “Muslim men, particularly my in-laws have threatened to kill me, my wife, and even our daughter. Separately they have also spoken of launching a criminal case against me on charges of apostasy under Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws.”
Muslims suspect that his wife has embraced Christianity, he explained, without elaborating.
Javed said he was unable to contact local police because they allegedly support legal procedures against him and his wife over recanting Islam. Police had no comment. “I hope that Western Christians and organizations will pray for us and support our case,” Javed told BosNewsLife.
The case has underscored concerns about interfaith marriages in Pakistan, a heavily Islamic nation, where Christians are in a minority.