European Pakistani Christian Community Protests Against Mob Violence in Sargodha, Pakistan

Brussels, Belgium – June 15, 2024: Today, the European Parliament in Brussels witnessed a significant gathering of hundreds of Christians from across Europe. The peaceful demonstration aimed to protest against the recent mob violence in Sargodha, Pakistan, which tragically resulted in the death of Nazir Masih, a local Christian resident. The protesters sought to highlight the ongoing persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan and urged the European Union to take a firm stance against such atrocities.

The demonstrators, comprising religious leaders, activists, and community members, carried banners and chanted slogans calling for justice for Nazir Masih and the protection of religious minorities in Pakistan. The event featured impassioned speeches from prominent figures within the Christian community, who underscored the persistent discrimination and violence faced by Christians in Pakistan.

On May 25, 2024, Nazir Masih, a Christian man from Sargodha, was brutally attacked by a mob following false accusations of blasphemy. Despite his innocence, Nazir was beaten to death, and his shoe factory was set on fire. This incident is part of a disturbing trend of mob violence against religious minorities in Pakistan, often fueled by false accusations and a lack of legal protections.

Speakers at the event expressed their deep concern and called for urgent reforms. One speaker highlighted the urgent need for reforms in Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which are often exploited to target and persecute minorities. Another speaker voiced collective outrage and sorrow over the brutal murder of Nazir Masih, emphasizing that this incident is part of a systemic issue of religious intolerance and violence in Pakistan. A faith leader lamented the violation of basic human rights and principles of religious freedom, urging the European Parliament to advocate for stronger protections for religious minorities in Pakistan.

Nazir Masih’s death was described as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan. Several speakers called for immediate action from the European Union to ensure that Nazir’s death is not in vain and that steps are taken to prevent further violence and discrimination against minorities in Pakistan. They emphasized the need for the Pakistani government to take immediate and concrete steps to protect its religious minorities and for the international community, especially the European Union, to hold Pakistan accountable for these egregious human rights violations.

The protesters presented a memorandum to the European Parliament, outlining their key demands. These included a thorough and impartial investigation into Nazir Masih’s death, with the perpetrators brought to justice and protection and support for his family. They called for legal reforms in Pakistan, including strengthening laws to protect religious minorities and prevent misuse of blasphemy laws, and implementation of stringent measures to prevent mob violence. 

The memorandum also demanded increased international scrutiny and pressure on Pakistan to uphold human rights, financial and legal aid for the families of victims of religious violence, and collaboration with media, educational institutions, and civil society organizations to highlight cases of religious persecution and advocate for change. Additionally, they called for the creation of safe havens and support networks for individuals at risk of persecution due to their religious beliefs.

The protest was organized by concerned members of the Pakistani diaspora in Europe, including Azeem Masih, Moon Samuel, Latif Bhatti, Sarwar Ghuri, Imran Gill, Bishop Arshed Khokhar, Watson Gill, Aneel Naeem, Yaqoob Samuel, Khalid Chaudhry, Ilyas Bhatti, Pervez Bhatti, Gul Irfan, Anson, Justin Bhatti, Joseph Jansen, Pastor John Ashraf, Kasif Masih, Imran Babu, and Mumtaz Masih, advocating for human rights and the protection of minorities in Pakistan.