Italy summons Pakistani diplomat over attacks on Christians

March 25th, 2010 - 1:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Rome, March 25 (IANS/AKI) The Italian government summoned Pakistan’s charge d’affaires in Rome to discuss the recent attacks reported against minority Christians in Pakistan.
The foreign ministry in Rome summoned the Pakistani envoy Wednesday after reports Tuesday said that a 38-year-old Christian man in Pakistan’s northern city of Rawalpindi died after he was set on fire by a Muslim mob.

The man’s wife was allegedly gang raped by three police officers, in front of their three children last week, reports said.

A mob of alleged Muslim hardliners set Pakistani Christian Arshed Masih on fire after he refused to convert to Islam. He received 80 percent burns on his body.

His wife, 33-year-old Martha Masih, was allegedly gang raped by three police officers, in the police station where the couple was held for questioning last Friday.

Protests broke out in Rawalpindi after news of Masih’s death. Several Christian groups held demonstrations Tuesday against police in the Pakistan city.

Masih and his family were also evicted from their service accommodation at the house of a local businessman Sheikh Mohammad Sultan, the reports further said.

Sultan, who had employed Masih as a driver and his wife as a domestic servant since 2005, had allegedly pressured the couple to convert to Islam, they said.

There have been several other reports of attacks on Christians in Pakistan by Islamic militants, including those linked to Al Qaeda and Taliban.

Earlier this month, suspected Pakistani militants stormed the office of a Christian aid group based in US, in the northwestern town of Oghi, killing six persons including two women and injuring five, police said.

Christians make up less than five percent of the Pakistan’s population of 175 million people.

–IANS/AKI

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