Pakistan: Christian family accused of blasphemy and attacked for drinking from mosque tap

BPCAAftab Gill and his family were forced to flee their village, leaving his mother (pictured) to live in the family home.

A Pakistani Christian man and his family were forced to flee their home after he was accused of blasphemy while collecting water.

Aftab Gill, 40, and his family were forced to flee from Wazirabad, Punjab, after a series of attacks by Muslim men in the village on him and his sons, according to the British Pakistani Christian Association.

Like many in the community, Gill collected his water supply from the local mosque's tap as it is the only clean supply available.

On 14 August however, as he collected his water, a Muslim man told him Christians were not allowed to use the tap unless they converted to Islam.

"You Christians are not allowed to take water from the mosque," he said to Gill. "If you want to drink our water, you must embrace Islam and pray regularly inside the mosque. Otherwise evil infidels defile our water taps."

Earlier that day, two of Gill's sons, Akash, 12, and Adnan, 5, had been approached by an 18-year-old Muslim man who tried to force them to convert to Islam. They refused.

The boys were targeted again days later, and when Akash refused they slapped him, according to BPCA.

Gill witnessed this and intervened, saying, "You failed to convert Baba Guru Nanak [The founder of the Sikh faith] so why pursue converting my children who follow the true and living God?"

Shah and his accomplices then beat Gill and his sons until the local police forcibly stopped them.

A mob of 200 Muslim men later attacked the family at their home.

Elder members of the Christian community met with the local Muslim cleric who said he would seek to prevent any further altercations and ease the religious tension in the area.

Despite these measures, he advised the family to leave the town to avoid any further attacks.

Gill and his family therefore left town, leaving his mother Bashiran Bibi behind to live in the family's home.

"Life for Christians in Pakistan is now worse than ever. We are attacked daily and treated worse than rats. Muslims do not want us as their neighbours because they believe we are evil and have satanic diseases," Bibi told BPCA.

"My son and his family came close to death and we were all terrified when the mob came to our house. I prayed to God for His protection and by His grace we have survived, but now my children are far away from me and I am very lonely. My tears are constant."

BCPA has begun an appeal for donations to help build another clean water tap to increase accessibility for Christians without fear of repercussions.

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