By Nora Zimmett, ,
Published May 16, 2015
A young Christian man was raped and brutally murdered in Pakistan for refusing to convert to Islam, and police are doing nothing about it, the victim's brother and minister told FOXNews.com.
Pakistani police reportedly found the body of Tariq "Litto" Mashi Ghauri — a 28-year-old university student in Sargodha, Pakistan — lying dead in a canal outside a rural village in Punjab Province on May 15. He had been raped and stabbed at least five times.
"They have sexually abuse him, torture him with a knife on his testicle and genitals," Ghauri's brother, 24-year-old Salman Nabil Ghauri, said. "They have tortured him very badly, and after that they have stabbed five times with a knife and killed him."
The family believes Litto Ghauri was murdered by the brothers of his Muslim girlfriend, Shazi Cheema, after they found him in a compromising sexual position with their sister.
The Rev. Haroon Bhatti, a Christian clergyman in the village and a friend of the Ghauri family, said Cheema's three brothers came to Litto Ghauri's house on May 11 and gave him an ultimatum: Marry their sister and convert to Islam.
Ghauri agreed to the marriage but refused to accept Islam, and the brothers kidnapped him at gunpoint and drove him to a remote farmhouse, where they tortured and murdered him, the minister said.
"On that farmhouse — four days there — we all, Christians and family, were searching for him," the Rev. Bhatti said. "I was with him. I was searching for him."
After police discovered the body, Ghauri's death was declared a homicide and the family filed paperwork with the Atta Shaheed police station in their small village, Adda 44SB. But Ghauri's brother said police still have not arrested the alleged killers and have refused to meet with his family.
"They don't want to meet us, and the three of them who are murderers are outside," Salman Nabil Ghauri told FOXNews.com. "They are free. Nothing is happening to them. No investigation is running."
The Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C., told FOXNews.com that they knew nothing of the incident but were looking into it.
But one embassy official questioned the truth of the report.
"On the face of it, this appears to be exaggerated," said the Pakistani official who asked not to be named. "This does not happen over there."
The official said that minorities are very well represented in the Pakistani Parliament, and if someone in fact were murdered for not converting to Islam, "it would have been reported hugely."
The embassy official added, "if an incident of that nature happened over there, there would have to be an investigation."
Yet human rights watchdog groups say that what happened to Litto Ghauri is not uncommon because Christians in Pakistan are looked upon as the dregs of society. Pakistan's population is 97 percent Muslim, and Christians are only a very small part of the remaining 3 percent.
"What the Muslim society has done in Pakistan is just associate low caste with being Christian," said Jeremy Sewall, Advocacy Director of the International Christian Concern, which first reported the killing. "Many of these people, they clean human waste and that's their job, and that's what Christians are known for in Pakistan."
The Rev. Bhatti says that radical Muslims frequently try to trap Christian men into converting to Islam by using a woman as bait — and Ghauri suspects the involvement of his dead brother's girlfriend in trying to entrap him.
"It's common to offer things — money, women — to Christians to convert," Bhatti said.
Pakistan is one of the most hostile countries in the world for minority religions. The country still has blasphemy laws on the books that forbid saying or writing anything against Islam or the Koran. Punishment can include death.
"You basically have a situation where people can kind of act with impunity in the public," said Paula Schriefer, advocacy director at Freedom House, a human rights group. "They use these laws to sort of settle scores ... or, in situations like this, actually engage in kind of forced conversions."
The U.S. State Department's 2008 International Religious Freedom Report on Pakistan says, "Government policies do not afford equal protection to members of majority and minority religious groups."
The Ministry of Religious Affairs, which is supposed to protect religious freedom, has a verse from the Koran on its masthead, the report said: "Islam is the only religion acceptable to God."
While the U.S. government has provided millions of dollars in public outreach programs to help teach religious tolerance in Pakistan, human rights watchers say it's not sufficient.
"There's probably not enough that the U.S. government is doing to really talk about this issue because it's such an important issue in Pakistan because faith is so important to them," said Sewall.
The small Christian community is hoping that Ghauri's death will bring attention to the plight of minority religious groups in Pakistan.
"Several incidents of Christian persecution go unnoticed in Pakistan because they occur in the furthest parts of Pakistan," the Rev. Bhatti said. "This is Pakistan — predominantly Muslim. So they're the rulers. They rule us."
For Christian families like the Ghauris, living in a remote village in Pakistan, options are few. Because of their poverty they can neither leave nor help secure their own safety.
"We have very little family," said Salman Nabil Ghauri, whose mother died years ago and whose father worked as a day laborer until the killing. "My father was a daily worker. Now he is earning nothing. He is fully mad now. He cannot understand anything — he is still in the shock of death.
"My elder son is dead, and I am only one person. Where can I run? I cannot start my studies or run after my case. What should I do?"