RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN — A Christian man was fighting for his life in Pakistan’s Punjab province Saturday, March 20, after Muslim leaders backed by police burned him alive for refusing to convert to Islam, while his wife was raped by police officers, Christian and hospital sources familiar with the case told BosNewsLife.Arshed Masih was burned Friday, March 19, in front of a police station in the city of Rawalpindi near Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, following apparent death threats from his Muslim employer Sheikh Mohammad Sultan, an influential businessman, and religious leaders, said the Rawalpindi Holy Family Hospital.His wife, Martha Arshed, was allegedly raped by police officers. Their three children — ranging in age from 7 to 12– were reportedly forced to witness the attacks against their parents.“Both [Masih] and wife were rushed to the Holy Family Hospital and are under treatment,” the hospital said.He was listed in serious condition with about 80 percent of his body burned.POLICE INVESTIGATIONLocal police officials said they were “aware” of the attacks carried out by Muslim leaders and apparently at least some officers and added that an investigation was underway. No arrests were rep
orted yet late Saturday, March 19.Sheikh Mohammad Sultan could not immediately be reached for comment and it was not clear whether he had been in contact with police Saturday, March 20.Before tensions emerged about their Christian faith, Masih worked as a driver and his wife as a maid for the Muslim businessman since 2005, Christians said.The couple apparently lived with their children in the servant quarters of Sultan’s estate in Rawalpindi, a key trade and tourist destination. In January, religious leaders and Sultan allegedly asked Arshed to convert to Islam with his whole family. After he refused, the group reportedly threatened him with “dire consequences”.Arshed offered to quit his job, but the businessman allegedly said he would “kill” him if he were to leave.He apparently also told Christian mediators that he would never allow the Christian family to live somewhere else.This week tensions rose after Sultan reported a theft of 500,000 Pakistani Rupees (5,952$), according to a document seen by BosNewsLife.The Christian family members were not named as suspects in the so-called ‘First Information Report’ from police.Sources familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified for security reasons, told BosNewsLife that the businessman had offered the couple to drop the case if they convert to Islam or “else that both would not see their children again.”However, “Arshed refused to convert and stood firm in his faith. Arshed`s wife was raped by the police and he was burned alive,” Friday, March 19, local Christians said, speaking on condition of anonymity. . . . (continue reading)
Let’s take a quick trip back to 1967, shall we? I’ve loved this song ever since I first heard it on the radio, way back then.
Part of my work-related activity involves crisscrossing the country conducting parish seminars and speaking at conferences on Catholic themes. This past week, I was speaking at multiple parishes within the Archdiocese of Boston and returned home last night.
The weather in Boston the last few days was raw, rainy, dreary. This is why, perhaps, as I waited a few hours in the American Airlines terminal at Boston Logan Airport for my (weather-delayed) flight home, my mind turned to somber things.
Pondering the fact that, at 7:45 a.m. on September 11, 2001, American Flight 11 pulled back from gate B32 and commenced its journey into death, I realized that though I had flown in and out of that airport many times over the years, I hadn’t stopped to think of its historical importance as one of the starting points of the terror attacks on the United States that terrible morning. (The doomed United Flight 175 also departed that morning at 7:58 from Gate C19).
I approached a cluster of idle TSA workers standing near the security checkpoint and asked which gate Flight 11 had departed from on 9-11. Without hesitating, they pointed out the window to an American flag in the distance, fluttering in the stiff, rainy wind atop a departure ramp way down at the far end of terminal. Thanking them, I headed in that direction, passing through throngs of passengers and airport workers toward an historical monument it seemed nobody else was conscious of.
I tried to imagine myself there that morning, seeing the five murderers walking toward Gate 32, their minds brimming with hatred for America and Americans. A line from “Riders on the Storm,” The Doors’ anthem of doom, came to mind as I tried to envision the hijackers going about their deadly errand:
There’s a killer on the roadHis brain is squirmin’ like a toadTake a long holidayLet your children playIf ya give this man a rideSweet memory will dieKiller on the road, yeah