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Two Christian men were attacked and beaten to unconsciousness in the Pakistani city of Karachi when they refused to convert to Islam, according to the Compass Direct news service.

Liaqat Munawar, a resident of Essa Nagri in Karachi, told Compass that his brother, Ishfaq Munawar, and another young Christian man, Naeem Masih, were returning home after an early morning church prayer service in the Sohrab Goth neighborhood on Aug. 14, Pakistan’s Independence Day, when several youths attacked them.

“Ishfaq and Naeem were riding a motorcycle when six Pashtun youths signaled them to stop,” Liaqat Munawar said. “They asked the two boys to identify themselves. Ishfaq told them that they were Christians returning from their church after a special prayer service.”

The Muslims asked them why they were in the Sea View neighborhood, and they replied that they had made a brief stopover to participate in Independence Day celebrations at the beach, he said.

“The Pashtun youths then started questioning them about their faith and later tried to force them to recite the Kalma [Islamic conversion creed] and become Muslims, telling them that this was the only way they could live peacefully in the city,” Liaqat said. “They also offered monetary incentives and ‘protection’ to Ishfaq and Naeem, but the two refused to renounce Christianity.”

When the two Christians tried to leave, the Muslim youths rammed their motorcycle with a car, then “armed with iron rods, attacked Ishfaq and Naeem, shouting that they should either recite the Kalma or be prepared to die,” Liaqat said. 

He said the Pashtuns severely beat the two Christians, fracturing Ishfaq’s jaw and breaking five teeth, and seriously injuring Masih. He added that the two fell unconscious, and the young men left, assuming they had killed them.

Liaqat said his brother underwent jaw surgery at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and is now recovering. He said the family had not registered a case with police, fearing reprisal by the Muslims, but were now considering filing a formal complaint.

This was not the first time Liaqat’s family has witnessed religious violence, he said. Muslims last year attacked his cousin, Eric Sarwar, founder and executive director of the Tehillim School of Church Music and Worship, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan.

Liaqat also spoke of an incident in which Muslims shot at a Christian funeral passing through their area, injuring six Christians.

Elvis Steven, a Christian rights activist in Karachi, told Compass that he was in contact with the Munawar family.

“The situation is not that bad for Christians living in areas controlled by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, but those living in areas dominated by the Pashtuns are under constant threat,” Steven said. “The Pashtuns are extremist in their beliefs. They have a militant mindset, and there have been several incidents of religious violence in Karachi. 

Christians make up only 2.45 percent of Pakistan’s population, which is more than 95 percent Muslim, according to Operation World.

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