Rasheed Masih at rest after his violent death
Life sentences (25 years maximum in Pakistan) were given to three Muslims convicted of killing a Christian in the Punjab Province of Pakistan according to a July 22 Compass Direct News article. Attorneys for the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) in Pakistan reported that on July 7 of this year the Sessions Court convicted Ghulam Rasool, Amjad Iqbal and Kashir Saleem of torturing and killing Rasheed Masih on March 9, 2010. In addition to the life sentence, they were ordered by the court to pay 100,000 rupees ($US 1,200) to Masih’s family. Muhammad Asif, a fourth suspect, was acquitted.
Rasheed Masih was a successful potato merchant and a devoted Christian. Compass quotes Rev. Iqbal Masih of the Mian Channu Parish of the Church of Pakistan as saying that both Rasheed and his brother Asi had been threatened and pressured for the past six months to convert to Islam. Asi said that Muslim businessmen were jealous of Rasheed’s success because he was a Christian. On March 9, 2010, when the victim and defendants met at their farmhouse to discuss business, he was again asked to convert to Islam and when he refused, the four Muslims beat him to death with iron rods.
When police arrived at the scene, they found Rasheed Masih smeared with blood. He died on the way to the hospital after stating to police that he was tortured by Rasool and the others. Police denied Rasheed’s statement and refused to arrest the defendants. However, after a five-hour protest by the Christian community in which they blocked an intercity highway demanding that the killers be arrested, police conceded.
More than a year later, the conviction of three of the suspects was meted out after a long battle by the Pakistani and U.S. offices of the European Centre for Law and Justice. The ECLJ, headquartered in Strasbourg, France, is an international Non-Governmental Organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights in Europe and worldwide. The Pakistani office of the ECLJ will file an appeal in the Lahore High Court concerning the acquittal of the fourth defendant
Lord Jesus, we lift up to You the family of Rasheed Masih for Your comfort and protection. Thank you for his courage in remaining faithful to You even in the face of death. We pray even for his attackers that You would soften their hearts to the Gospel and turn in faith to You, the one true and living God. And we pray that You would strengthen and grow Your church in Mian Channu and all of Pakistan. Amen