Sania, a Christian girl from a small village in Faisalabad, suffered a beating from her teacher after missing school due to illness. When her parents complained, a group of Muslim men attacked both Sania’s family and other Christians in the neighborhood. Christian Solidarity International (CSI) providedlegal aid and medical assistance to the victims.
Ten-year-old Sania attends the fourth grade of the government primary school for girls. She likes going to school. But in mid-August, she became ill and had to stay at home.
When the young girl returned to the classroom after four days, she asked her Muslim teacher to excuse her absence due to illness. But the teacher showed no understanding. “She hit me with a stick so hard that I broke a finger,” Sania told CSI’s local project partner.
Hearing what had happened, Sania’s parents went to see the teacher and complained about her rough treatment of their daughter, which went against the law banning corporal punishment in schools.
Threats to local Christians
When a group of Muslim men from the neighborhood found outthat the parents had complained to the teacher, a relation of theirs, they were angry and indignant. They ordered Sania’s parents and their Christian neighbors to leave their homes or face dire consequences. But the Christian families did not let themselves be intimidated.
In the early morning of August 30, the seven influential Muslims set upon Sania’s family and other local Christians, shouting insults and attacking them with weapons. Several people suffered injuries.
The attackers warned their victims not to file a complaint against them. Despite that, the Christian community did report the incident to the police, as they continued to be threatened by their Muslim neighbors.
CSI’s local partner, Anjum Paul, provided financial and legal help in the wake of the attack and made sure the injured received treatment.
He also managed to broker a meeting between the two parties on September 4, where the Muslims apologised and signed an agreement promising to live in peace with the Christian community. CSI is monitoring the situation and is prepared to provide legal assistance in future should tensions recur.