On March 15, a group of influential Muslims in the Kachi Abadi neighborhood of Okara, located in Pakistan’s Punjab province, demolished the home of a poor Christian family. According to local reports, the home belonged to Nadeem Sohotra, a 30-year-old sanitation worker and father of three children.
Speaking to International Christian Concern (ICC), Sohotra explained that he purchased the 403 square foot house in 2015 and holds all the legal documents to the property. Despite this, his family were told they are not allowed to live in this home due to their religious identity as Christians.
On March 15, Sohotra and his family were away visiting relatives when one of Sohotra’s Muslim friends informed him that his house was being bulldozed.
“When I reached my home, I saw some unknown armed men were demolishing my house and looting the valuables,” Sohotra told ICC. “I tried to stop them, but one of the armed men shouted at me and threatened me at gunpoint.”
According to Sohotra, this armed man told him to leave the scene of the demolition and keep his mouth shut. Another man then said that he was not allowed to live in the neighborhood because he was Christian and the rest of his neighbors were Muslims. The man then told Sohotra he could stay if he was willing to convert to Islam.
The next day, March 16, Sohotra reported the incident to local police. However, his application is still pending and to date has been left unheard.
Across Pakistan, Christians face widespread intolerance and discrimination. This second-class status often leaves them vulnerable to attack by extremists and easy targets for criminals.