Pakistani Christian killed in the street had refused to work on a Sunday

Pakistani Christians demonstrated over the lynching of a Christian couple in a village in Punjab province in November 2014. Christians face systematic discrimination in Pakistan.Reuters

A young Christian in Pakistan was shot and killed in the street allegedly for refusing the demands of an influential Muslim that he work on a Sunday, his day off. 

Noman Munir Masih, 20 lived in Sheikhupura in Punjab Province, working in a local sanitation department. He was on his way to work with his brother-in-law and uncle on March 20 when he was attacked and killed, according to Morning Star News.

'They were about to leave after dropping off Noman when suddenly two motorcyclists arrived there,' Norman's mother Khalida Bibi said.

'One of them whipped out a pistol and opened fire on Noman, killing him instantly.' Bibi said her family was in shock at their loss.

Norman was the primary provider for his Pentecostal Christian family after his father died two years ago. Through his work he supported his mother, three brothers and two sisters. A local Muslim man named Daanu Chaddar has been arrested in connection with the case. 

An attorney for the family, Kashif Naimet, said Chaddar threatened Masih after he refused to sweep his outhouse on Sunday, Masih's day off.

Naimet said: 'Ostensibly angered by the Christian's refusal to submit to his demand, Chaddar allegedly told Noman to be ready to face "dire consequences", as he will not take no for an answer from a petty sanitary worker. Chaddar reportedly threatened Noman that he would "Cut off his legs and riddle his body with bullets" for defying his order.'

Naimet added: 'Noman was a simple sanitary worker and had no enmity with anyone. His refusal to clean the Muslim's dera [outhouse] apparently led to his killing.'

Rights advocates say many Muslims in Pakistan mistreat Christians as they are a minority community with minimal power or status. Many in the sanitation profession, a relatively lowly position mostly comprising Christians, find themselves especially degraded.

Riaz Masih Bhatti, president of the Sheikhupura Tehsil Municipal Authority sanitary workers union, said: 'There have been frequent incidents of prejudice against Christian sanitary workers, but Noman's murder in a brazen attack in broad daylight has sent a wave of shock and panic in the entire community.'

Christian rights activist Napolean Qayyum said: 'Many Muslims find it hard to accept refusal by a "lowly" Christian. This is not the first time a Christian sanitary worker has been killed or subjected to violence for refusing to comply with unjust demands of persons from the Muslim majority.

'The situation won't change for the better for Christian street sweepers and sanitation workers until the state realises its responsibility toward all citizens regardless of their faith, caste and creed.'