Blasphemy Attack in Pakistan: Shoe Factory Owner Brutally Assaulted by Extremists

Sargodha, Pakistan – A horrific incident unfolded on a Saturday morning in Gillwala Colony, Sargodha, Punjab, involving a violent attack on Nazir Gill Masih, the owner of a shoe factory. The assailants, believed to be Islamic extremists, accused Masih of blasphemy, claiming that he had burned pages of the Quran. This accusation led to a frenzied mob attacking Masih’s family, resulting in the looting and burning of their factory and home. While ten family members managed to escape unharmed, Masih sustained severe injuries before law enforcement intervened and rushed him to a hospital for urgent medical care.

According to Naeem Yousaf Gill, the executive director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, the attacks on Masih’s family may have stemmed from commercial rivalries and personal disputes rather than genuine religious concerns. The Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad-Rawalpindi expressed shock at the inhumane incident and swiftly traveled to Sargodha to assess the situation, emphasizing the need for a fair investigation and urging the authorities to prevent such occurrences in the future.

With Nazir Gill Masih currently in critical condition in the intensive care unit, concerns over his well-being are heightened. Another individual who attempted to aid Masih was also attacked by the mob, highlighting the volatile situation that unfolded. In Pakistan, blasphemy is a serious offense punishable by death or life imprisonment, although it is often misused to settle personal scores, leading to false accusations and violent mob behavior.

Professor Shadid Mobeen, a contributor to the Report on Religious Freedom, emphasized the importance of international pressure on Pakistan to safeguard its religious minorities from extremist threats. The role of the international community and the media in advocating for the protection of vulnerable communities is crucial in addressing such incidents and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions.