Christian journalist in hiding for refusing to convert to Islam

A Christian journalist in Pakistan has received death threats after publishing articles calling for greater democracy and for refusing to convert to Islam.

George Masih, 43, who writes for the Lahore-based newspaper Aaj Kal, wrote a number of columns which provoked the ire of Muslims.

Last August, he wrote a column entitled “The Nation should wake up now”. In the autumn he wrote a further three columns entitled “The Sunrise of Democracy”, “The Triumph of Democracy” and “I am Pakistan”.

The Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) is supporting Masih and said that his articles were aimed at promoting religious tolerance and democracy in Pakistan.

Masih claimed to receive the first threatening letter late in October from the Islamic Tanzeem Organisation, which threatened “dire consequences” for him and his family if he did not become a Muslim.

The letter said, “George it would be better if you embraced Islam as soon as possible. Your name is the same as the [ex-president] of the USA, George Bush. We hate that stupid American. You should change your name and embrace Islam, or else you will suffer along with your family.”

In December, Masih said he received another letter in which the senders “directly threatened to kill” him and his family if he still did not convert.

According to CLAAS, he first ignored the threats, but as more threatening letters came he sought police protection. The police at first refused to take action but were later ordered by the Session’s Court Lahore to act on 11 February of this year.

This Easter George and his family were in hiding for fear of attacks as no suspects have been detained yet.

Joseph Francis, National Director of CLAAS, said the police needed "to resolve the problem and provide sufficient protection to the Christian journalist and his family”, according to Worthy News.

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