Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "The government of Pakistan seems more interested in school infrastructure and security of buildings than in the quality aspect of the education system. We live in a society where students spread hate, discrimination, bullying, intolerance against caste, belief, religion and social status": with these words, sent to Agenzia Fides, the Bishops of Pakistan, through the National Commission" Justice and Peace, condemn "the tragic incident that shocked the nation", referring to the case of Sharon Masih, a 17-year-old Christian boy, high school student, killed by his peers on August 30, 2017 (see Fides 2/9/2017).
Admitted to M.C. public High School in Burewala, in the first days of school was victim of bullying and abuse on behalf of his classmates, who beat him to death. "In a class with 70 students - the Bishops note – he was the only Christian" and due to his faith was targeted by his companions, who had also asked him to convert to Islam.
In a statement sent to Fides, signed by Bishop Joseph Arshad, president of the National Justice and Peace Commission (NCJP), and the Executive Director of the same Commission, Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf, reads: "This episode may seem a trivial quarrel among teenagers, but it was actually caused by intolerance, discrimination and inhuman attitudes toward minorities and marginalized communities. We express deep concern for the level of extreme negligence on behalf of school authorities".
The text continues: "Sharon Masih was a boy who was trying to better himself through education. It was the responsibility of teachers to control and avoid discrimination incidents in the classroom. We urge the government of Punjab to take appropriate action. Teachers should understand and be attentive towards students especially when one of them experiences abuse or violence because of his faith. However, unfortunately, in Sharoon’s case we saw that there was no human value among the students themselves". On the other hand, notes Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf, "those Muslim students who brought Sharon to the hospital are truly a sign of hope and a true example of the teachings of God's humanity".
Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf strongly urges the Government of Punjab, and in particular the Education Department, to "seriously look into episodes of intolerance in educational institutions": "We need reforms of the school curriculum in order to promote a tolerant and peaceful society; and teachers need to be adequately trained to address issues of intolerance that afflict our society today". Pakistan's Bishops are calling for "justice for Sharon Masih's family" and "strong measures so that such tragic incidents will no longer happen in the future". The Justice and Peace Commission provides legal assistance to the victim's family and "will continue its struggle for respect and human dignity in our society". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 13/9/2017)