Sun, Sep 02, 2012 - Page 4 News List

IN FOCUS: Christian girl’s case evokes fear in Pakistani village

AFP, GOJRA, Pakistan

Three years on from the Gojra carnage, Margaret’s house has been rebuilt along with 75 others.

Compensation of 500,000 rupees (US$5,200) was paid to the families of the dead and 100,000 rupees to those who lost their homes, but the people responsible for the bloody rampage went free.

The main witness of the case, Almas Hameed, who lost seven relatives and reported the case to police, fled the country with the rest of the family.

His house was the only one of those torched in the violence that has not been rebuilt, and notices summoning him to court as a witness remain pasted to his front door.

Christians are among Pakistan’s most marginalized minorities, with many impoverished and trapped in dirty, menial jobs.

The new houses built for Christians in Korian have created further jealousy among Muslims in the area.

“They mock us now, saying we have got new houses but one day they will also be destroyed,” said Khaliq Barkat, the priest of the local church.

As Rimsha goes into her third week in prison and her family hides for fear of violent reprisals, Margaret doubts Pakistan’s Christians and Muslims will ever live in true harmony.

“I don’t think it will ever come to an end. There is lack of wisdom and knowledge among our people. We need to learn to tolerate each other,” she said.

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