.- A Catholic bishop in Pakistan is struggling to achieve justice for the family of a young man who was allegedly beaten to death for refusing to convert to Islam.
Javed Anjum, 19, was visiting his mother’s family in eastern Pakistan in 2004 when he was reportedly lured to a ‘madrassa,’ or Islamic school, and called upon to renounce his Christian faith. It is alleged that when he refused, he was severely beaten before being taken to a police station in Toba, some 80 km from Faisalabad. Anjum then dramatically revealed on video camera the identity of his attackers. Moments later, he lost consciousness and died.
Last week, Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad told a conference in Lisbon that, two years after the incident, the case was at risk of disintegrating despite compelling evidence for the prosecution, reported Aid to the Church in Need.
According to reports, the rector of the ‘madrassa’ in Toba is being prosecuted as the man most responsible for the death. Recently however, the prosecuting lawyer, who is being supported by the Church of Faisalabad, has received threats against himself, his wife, and his three young children. His wife and children have fled to safety to the southern Pakistan city of Karachi.
Bishop Coutts, who had bestowed the Sacrament of Confirmation on Anjum a few years ago, has intervened amid growing fears that the case could be suppressed by Islamic groups through intimidation and bribery of the courts.
“We must keep up the pressure for justice. These Islamic groups are very powerful. They can make it look like an accident,” the bishop added after the conference. “They must admit that they have done something wrong. They must admit that they have committed murder.”
According to the bishop, Muslims need to be reminded that it is against their religion to bring about a conversion by compulsion. But he said Muslims who engage in this violent behavior, “believe that if you convert somebody to Islam, you have reserved a place for yourself in heaven.”