In July, Saddique Azam, a senior schoolteacher, was promoted to headmaster at a Primary School in Pernawa village. His appointment was followed by two months of hassling and veiled threats that if he did not resign from the position and deliver the charge to a Muslim teacher, he would face the consequences. On October 6, three months after his appointment, he was severely beaten by radical Muslim colleagues working under him, over the potential promotion.
According to the source, they called him “Choora,” a belittling term Pakistani Muslims often use to identify Christians with the “sweeper” or “untouchable” caste, during the attack “You are a ‘Christian Choora,’ how can you be Headmaster and be given seniority over us,” shouted the angry Muslim teachers, who then began beating the Christian Headmaster.
“The authorities were not issuing the appointment letter to Saddique Azam as a head-teacher because of his Christian faith,” said a member of his family. The story is all too familiar as such angry reactions to Christians being promoted are not uncommon.
Extremist Muslim teachers protested before the District Education Officer’s (DEO) office in Kasur, demanding to know, “Why was a Christian appointed to this headmaster post?”
According to staff members who witnessed the attack, this incident occurred at 7:45am on the school premises. The victim recounted his harrowing experience: “Three Muslim teachers entered the school, went into my office and waited there for me. When I entered the office, I was alarmed to see them. I asked them the reason for the visit and they launched a tirade of warnings against me to withdraw and resign from teacher headship. They tried to make me promise that either I resign or do whatever they directed me to do.” The teachers persisted in their demands and threats, becoming increasingly fierce.
When Saddique resolutely denied their demands, his colleagues soon began to beat him, severely injuring his left eye. When they realized what was happening, the other staff members rushed into the office and rescued the headmaster from the three teachers’ relentless attack. The police were quickly called and the three extremist teachers were arrested. Following the arrest, the police proved extremely reluctant to register a FIR (First Information Report) about the incident.
Father, we thank You for the work You are doing in the hearts of men and women in Pakistan and for the faithfulness of Your church there. We pray today for the community in Kasur, already tense from an ongoing wave of persecution in the area. We pray especially for Saddique and his family; that You will heal Saddique of his injuries and that You will give them all the courage and grace to reach out to members of the Muslim community with forgiveness. Protect them from bitterness and strengthen them to trust Your perfect wisdom and Your power to save. And we pray for the protection of him and his family as they wait for the police to determine their course of action regarding the incident. We especially pray against false accusations of blasphemy to end his career, a tactic that is sometimes used to end disputes with Your people. And where our archenemy Satan would use this struggle to thwart Christ’s kingdom work, we take heart that You take those attacks and use them for the good of Your people and Christ’s church. In the Name of Jesus, through whom all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether they are kings, lords, rulers or powers, Amen.