PAKISTAN: Christian dies following mob attack over blasphemy accusation

Nazir Masih's funeralPakistani Christian Nazir Masih (73) has died from the severe head injuries he received on 25 May in a brutal attack following a false accusation of blasphemy. He was attacked by a mob of over one thousand people in Mujahid Colony, Sargodha, Punjab province over false accusations of desecrating the Quran.

Nazir underwent two head surgeries at the Combined Military Hospital in Rawalpindi to remove bone fragments from his brain and was put on a ventilator on 2 June but died of multiple organ failure at 12.30 am on 3 June.

His body was brought back to Mujahid Colony, where his funeral (pictured) was held later on 3 June. It was led by local pastors, with Roman Catholic priests from the community also in attendance. In a press release, Church in Chains partner organisation CLAAS-UK reported, “The service was attended by a large number of people, reflecting the widespread grief and outrage over his tragic death.”

A heavy police presence provided security at the funeral and police were also deployed to guard Nazir’s house in case of further attack. Since his death, the District Police Officer in Sargodha has assured the family of protection.

 Mob attack

Nazir received his injuries when an angry mob launched a vicious attack, incited by false accusations of blasphemy over the loudspeaker system from the local mosque alleging that he had burned pages of the Quran. The mob, which included children, pelted him with stones and bricks, beat him with rods and kicked him as he lay bleeding on the ground. He sustained multiple fractures to the skull, with bone fragments causing blood clots in his brain.

Despite police efforts to intervene and rescue Nazir the mob persisted and snatched him back from police, leading to further injuries before he was eventually placed in an ambulance. Members of the mob then hurled stones at the ambulance, breaking its windows. They also set fire to Nazir’s house and the family’s shoe factory, and attacked damaged the homes of other Christians in the colony.

Following the violence police charged the victim with blasphemy and also registered a case against over four hundred individuals, accusing them of offences including terrorism, attempted murder, arson, unlawful assembly and the use of explosives. Police officer Assad Malhi says that murder charges have now been added to these offences. British Asian Christian Association reports that one hundred suspects have been arrested and are being interrogated, while 350 unknown suspects remain fugitive.

Family in fear

Nazir’s son Sultan Gill (50) told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News that police told the mob they were taking his father into custody for investigation but that “some people snatched my father from the policemen and started torturing him. I tried to rescue him, but the police told me that the lives of the entire family were at serious risk, and it was important to move us to safety. They assured me that they would save my father from the mob after which I agreed to leave, but they failed to rescue him in time.”

Sultan Gill said police and security officials moved his family to a government safehouse but he was allowed to go with his father to the hospital; the family remains in the safehouse for security reasons. He said his three children and the family of his older brother were in deep shock and fear.

Sargodha Riot We’ve been told that we cannot return to our house for some days, as it is not safe yet,” Sultan Gill told CDI-MSN. “However, the entire episode has been so traumatising for all of us that I don’t think we will ever be able to resume our normal lives there. All our valuables and belongings were looted by the mob. They also burned some rooms of our house and damaged the infrastructure. Our business was flourishing, making some local Muslims jealous of our success. There have been multiple attempts to involve us in fake cases, which we faced bravely, but this time they misused religion to persecute us.


The incident has sparked nationwide and international protests, with widespread condemnation of the brutal attack on an innocent man and the misuse of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

CLAAS-UK stated that Nazir’s death “highlights the ongoing issues surrounding the misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan, which often lead to violence and vigilantism. Human rights organisations and activists have long called for reforms to prevent such tragedies… The incident underscores the urgent need for legal and societal reforms to protect vulnerable communities and ensure justice is served fairly.

These laws, in their current form, are often exploited to settle personal scores, incite violence, and target minority communities. It is imperative that the government revises these laws to include stringent safeguards against their misuse and ensures that false accusations are punished accordingly… Furthermore, it is crucial that those responsible for the heinous attack on Nazir Masih are brought to justice… This will not only provide some measure of justice for Nazir Masih and his family but also send a strong message that such acts of violence will not be tolerated.”

Nasir Saeed, Director of CLAAS-UK, commented: “I am deeply saddened and outraged by the tragic death of Nazir Masih, who was brutally attacked and killed over false blasphemy charges. This barbaric act highlights the severe consequences of the misuse of blasphemy laws in our country and serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for reform in Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.”

Read more about the situation facing Pakistani Christians in Church in Chains’ Pakistan Country Profile.

(British Asian Christian Association, Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and SettlementUK, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Morning Star News)

Photo of funeral: CLAAS-UK