Police took Amir Masih into custody on August 28. Three days later, says Isaac Six of Open Doors USA, he was dead. “What’s shocking and brutal about this is that it was carried out by the authorities and that it was done so blatantly. The family was able to pick up Mr. Masih after he’d been tortured for days. He was alive for a few hours to tell his story to the family before he passed away. “
Justice for Amir?
Mr. Masih’s employer accused him of theft, which led to the arrest. As for due process? Christians in Pakistan face widespread discrimination and religious intolerance. They often face false accusations with little to no recourse or protection.
In this situation, Six says, “The evidence is blatant that there was terrible torture done here, and it looks like the authorities are investigating, which is good. But often in these cases, there’s no accountability for those who are responsible. That’s the thing we’re following closely.”
While the case garnered widespread attention, Six cautions, “That doesn’t mean that they necessarily will be justice. Sometimes after the attention blows over, everything sort of fades away, and it becomes harder to really hold people accountable.”
The attention could complicate justice. “A lot of Pakistani society has been radicalized, and I want to quantify that a bit, but there’s a number of very powerful groups that are very fanatical about a very radical form of Islam, and they hold a lot of sway. So even when the government or others want to do the right thing, it’s sometimes very difficult to do that.”
Citing Asia Bibi’s case, he reminds us, “Just the hint that she would be released and then that she might be able to leave the country led to tens of thousands of people in the streets rioting and calling for her to be executed.” Death threats plagued court officials, and Bibi’s lawyer eventually left the country.
Christians are second-class citizens in Pakistan
Pakistan is fifth on the current Open Doors USA World Watch List, a report that ranks the 50 countries where it is most challenging to profess and practice the Christian faith. The irony is that the country’s founder promoted religious freedom, yet some of the world’s most widely-known cases of Christian persecution happened there.
Six says the conversation continues. “It’s always great to talk about societal change. One of the ways that really happens is through the Gospel. It is important for those on the front lines of this to continue doing that important work because I think that’s the only way we’re really going to see change.”
A call for supernatural change
As far as what an outsider can do to promote change within Pakistan, Six makes this request: “It’s the number one request we ever hear when working with the persecuted Church, and that is to pray. In this case, of course, praying for the family. First that, they would find strength, and they’d be comforted, that people and supporters would surround them during this time and help meet their needs; praying for those authorities who are investigating to follow a just path and to hold people accountable for this; praying for broader change in Pakistan and for peace in that country.”
Masih’s wife and two sons, one 7-years-old and the other 14-days-old, survive him.
(Headline photo courtesy Wikimedia/CC)