Javed Anjum in the hospital after the beating (Compass Direct)
Last week I posted a story about a young Pakistani Christian who was tortured and killed after refusing to convert to Islam. This piece from AsiaNews (thanks to Nicolei) shows that this appalling crime has met only with yawns from the Pakistani authorities. An interview with Peter Jacob, executive secretary to the Bishops” Peace and Justice Commission (which has decided to file a claim against the instigators of the crime):
How did you learn out about the violence a teacher and students inflicted on Javed Anjum, an 18-year old economics student at an Islamic school. And how did the Pakistani press start writing about it?
“(Anjum) said before dying the hospital, that he was tortured and harassed into converting (to Islam). His family had learned from him what happened. The persons accused of the crime didn’t want the news to leak out to the press, but word soon got around as to what had happened. Then the Pakistani media, especially the English-language press, began writing about it.
What is the status of the Peace and Justice Commission’s involvement in this sad affair?
At the moment, our position is that we would like the case to be registered under proper provisions. This is what we demand. But it has not happened yet. It has been called a murder. This is true, and this was the first charge made in court. But there was no claim made about anyone being forced to convert (to Islam).
We don’t know how the situation will turn out, but we will continue to advance our requests. You see there have been cases of forced conversions and “¦strange deaths. Such cases deal with one of the biggest human rights abuse problems (in the world). And it’s commonplace here, not just an isolated incident. Thus we don’t know what the outcome will be. The Peace and Justice Commission has asked the government in Punjab, our province, not to merely to serve justice in Anjum’s case, but “to take long-term measures to root out religious hatred and promote obedience to law, while enforcing provisions against hate crimes.”
What did Pakistani authorities have to say?
Not a word”¦.We expected that at least the provincial administration would have issued a statement of condolence, or sent a representative to the funeral, or at least something that consoles the Christian community here.
How did the country”s Muslim population react to the news?
There is division within (Pakistan’s) Muslim community. There are moderates and there are fundamentalists. Those responsible for the murder belong to a certain (extremist) religious group. These are the same people who are trying to hush up the story, who are trying protect the criminals, the converters. On the other hand we have support from moderate Muslims. There are many human rights organizations, NGOs and Muslims from major cities, like Lahore and Islamabad, who come forward to show their solidarity and have made attempts tried to speak out about what (really) happened.