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Pakistani Police Beat Christian Student to Death in Latest Sectarian Lynching

Pakistani police burst into a classroom last week, dragged 14-year-old Arsalan Masih out, and beat him to death in what appears to be the latest sectarian lynching targeting Pakistan's besieged Christian minority.

The murder happened in a village in the Punjab province where 300-400 Christian families live:

Two similar attacks targeting Christian children in August illustrate the escalating violence that, at best, seems tacitly endorsed by Pakistani authorities. Morning Star News spoke with the father of Arsalan Masih after last week's attack, who described how seven police officers murdered his son:

“Arsalan was attending his tuition classes at the Ideal Science Academy when Head Constable Imtiaz, Driver Rashid, Constable Arshad and some other unidentified policemen kicked open the door and dragged him out of the classroom,” Masih said. “Sardar, alias Billu, a police constable, helped them to identify the boy. With this, they all started beating Arsalan with fists, kicks and rifle butts.”

Teacher Farhan Ali tried to stop the assault, but the officers shoved and slapped him and continued beating the boy, Masih said.

“Rashid struck Arsalan’s head with a pistol, and he started bleeding,” he said. “When they bundled him into the police van, Arsalan collapsed and died. Later the police team threw Arsalan’s body on the roadside and fled.”

Numerous bystanders witnessed the assault, but the policemen threatened them if they intervened, he added.

Four months ago Arsalan had fought with a Muslim boy after the classmate tried to bully him into renouncing his Christian faith, said Masih, a member of the Presbyterian Church in Pakistan.

A case has been opened against the police officers involved, but none have been arrested.

This case bears similarities to the murder of another Christian student in Punjab province, 17-year-old Sharoon Masih, in August. According to reports, Sharoon was the only Christian in his school, and he was beaten to death by his classmates for drinking from the same water glass after one of his Muslim classmates.

His teacher claimed he didn't hear the students beating him to death as he read a newspaper. A new student to his school, Sharoon had previously been harassed by students demanding he convert to Islam.

Earlier in August, another Christian teenager was nearly beaten to death by a mob after being accused of burning a Quran. The victim, 16-year-old Asif Masih, is in jail facing the death penalty after being charged with blasphemy on the accusation from an imam.

Pakistan's blasphemy statute is regularly used to target religious minorities to settle personal disputes and to harass perceived "infidels."

Just last month, another Christian man, Nadeem James, was sentenced to death for blasphemy on accusations he shared material ridiculing Mohammad on the WhatsApp messaging service.