On their son’s third day of high school, the parents of 17-year-old Sharoon Masih learned that he had been in a fight, had suffered a serious injury, and been taken to the hospital.
They rushed to the hospital and there found him dead.
“The boys from his class who had brought him there told us that he died in the classroom,” said his mother, Razia Bibi, a Christian woman in a predominantly Muslim country.
Police said that on Aug. 27 another student at the school — in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province — kicked Sharoon in the stomach and that he died of internal injuries. The student charged in his death now awaits trial, but police are not calling the attack a hate crime.
However, many Christian Pakistanis, who make up less than two percent of the country’s population, suspect the teenager was targeted because of his religion. Christians, they say, are often forced to occupy the lowest rungs of the social ladder, and are regularly discriminated against in education, employment and housing.
Advocates for Christians in Pakistan note that another Christian boy was killed violently this year: On Oct. 9, police killed a 14-year-old Christian boy in an incident still under investigation.
Pakistan is fourth on the list of 50 countries that the U.S.-based nonprofit Open Doors — which advocates for persecuted Christians — lists as the most…
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