- Wednesday, June 5, 2024

A version of this story appeared in the Higher Ground newsletter from The Washington Times. Click here to receive Higher Ground delivered directly to your inbox each Sunday.

Americans enjoy the boundless benefits of democracy and freedom, but millions around the world aren’t so lucky, finding themselves trapped in dystopian nightmares devoid of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Many of the issues debated, discussed and haggled over in the U.S. expose the wild privilege with which so many of us live. 

From excitement over the latest Starbucks latte to the hottest reality TV or sports team, our cares and concerns are galaxies away from the perils that exist in countries such as Pakistan, where persecution runs rampant and the law is routinely bent and contorted into oblivion.

Simply living an unimpeded day in safety and peace is a luxury for Christians there.

The overarching depths of moral depravity were recently on full display after Nazeer Masih Gill, a 74-year-old Pakistani man, died after a vicious attack May 25 at the hands of an apparently out-of-control Muslim mob, Christian Daily International-Morning Star News reported.

His offense? Gill, a Christian, was accused of blasphemy for allegedly burning the pages of a Quran, a charge some watchdogs say was concocted for the sole purpose of targeting him. 

Despite the supposedly faux charges, the mob of angry Muslims was so ginned up after a mosque announcement proclaiming Gill’s guilt that they bombarded him with bricks and stones and beat him with sticks before kicking him repeatedly. 

In the end, Gill was left with skull fractures, blood clots and life-threatening injuries. The vulturous behavior and rabid violence were even perpetuated against the ambulance crew that came to rescue him, further complicating any rescue plans. 

Sadly, he couldn’t be saved.

“Doctors … conducted two surgeries to save his life, but despite the removal of bone fragments from his brain, his condition remained precarious, and he couldn’t survive,” Gill’s son, Sultan Gill, told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News.

The younger Mr. Gill described a terrifying situation the day of the assault in which a group of 20 to 30 attackers swelled into a crowd of hundreds, with police unable to stop the horror. 

In addition to the attack, the entire family ended up losing their belongings to looters, their home was partially torched, and they are living in a safe house for fear of further violence. 

It’s unfathomable that human beings face this sort of evil in the modern era, yet most experts report massive increases in persecution across the globe — and the problem shows no signs of slowing down. Pakistan is more the rule than the exception these days, though it is undoubtedly one of the biggest offenders globally for this kind of violence.

The South Asian nation is the seventh-worst country for Christian persecution, according to watchdog Open Doors’ annual World Watch List.

It’s not uncommon for Pakistani Muslims to claim Christians have blasphemed or destroyed a Quran, leading to terrifying ordeals like what Gill experienced. 

In August, a massive attack on Christian homes and churches unfolded in the city of Jaranwala after allegations spread that someone had harmed pages in the Quran. According to Open Doors, nearly 100 homes and more than 20 churches were affected. 

“Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws are often used to target minority groups, but Christians are disproportionately affected,” the outlet said. “Indeed, roughly a quarter of all blasphemy accusations target Christians, who only make up 1.8% of the population.”

Over the past year, the stories to emerge from Pakistan further encapsulate the most demoniacal evil imaginable. 

A young woman named Sunita was doused in acid for refusing to enter into a relationship with a man and convert to Islam. With severe burns all over the then-19-year-old’s body, her family pondered whether her life would ever again be normal. 

In a separate incident, a young man was given the death penalty for blasphemy, with claims he was wielding profane images of Muhammad — charges his family denied. 

Most recently, a Catholic family was attacked and saw their land stolen. They are reportedly receiving little help from Pakistani authorities and have lost their source of income, leaving them destitute. 

“We have lost everything, our livelihood, our money and most of all the hope of getting justice,” Ashraf Yousaf, one of the affected family members, said of the horrific situation. 

These dangerous attacks compound the “institutionalized discrimination” groups like Open Doors report seeing in Pakistan, with Christians being forced into lower-level jobs while experiencing persistent targeting by majority stakeholders. 

One of the most dangerous situations for Gill and others like him are false blasphemy charges, as this form of unfair targeting can clearly cost someone his or her property — or life. 

While it’s fine to be concerned with our own affairs here in America, the persecution situation globally must also remain top of mind. These innocent humans deserve not only our prayers, but also our calls for advocacy.

We must urge our government to do whatever we can to protect them so that they, too, can taste the immeasurable freedom we enjoy. 

• Billy Hallowell is a digital TV host and interviewer for Faithwire and CBN News and the co-host of CBN’s “Quick Start Podcast.” He is the author of four books.

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