The 22-year-old Danish Masih, who worked as a welder, dissapeared from the factory in Gunjwal, a suburb of Attock city, on May 15, said his cousin and local resident, Nazim Masih. Tensions rose earlier this month when three of Danish Masih’s Muslim co-workers "were teasing, annoying and giving derogatory remarks about Christianity for four days," his cousin said Saturday, May 24.
He initially remained silent and even did not tell family members about the situation "to avoid confrontation and worsening the situation," but on May 15, Danish Masih "got fed up of and requested his Muslim co-workers to refrain form religious discussion during work," Nazim Masih told BosNewsLife.
Muslims allegedly got infuriated and soon some 600 factory colleagues were heard shouting anti-Christianity slogans and: "Kill Danish at the spot where ever you see him." Within hours, he "mysteriously dissapeared," said Nazim Masih, who blames Muslim workers for the kidnapping. "We haven’t seen or heard of him since May 15, " he said, adding that Muslim militants support the worker’s actions.
He noted that his cousin is no exception as some 30 Christian families in the area, many of them living in slums, are "terrified and all of them are living in grave danger." Nazim Masih said he and other Christians fear that "Muslim fundamentalists might attack us to kill or loot our household valuables at any moment."
No group or workers have claimed responsibility for the alleged kidnapping, but the North Western Frontier Province has been a hotbed for Islamic extremism, according to several church and rights groups. Shahbaz Bhatti, one of Pakistan’s top Christian legislators and chief of the ‘All Pakistan Minorities Alliance’ (APMA) advocacy group, told BosNewsLife he will launch an investigation into the kidnapping.
He linked the abduction to Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws which, he said, have been used by Islamic extremists "as a weapon to persecute, terrorize and victimize the Christians of Pakistan and settle their personal disputes and enmities."
Shahbaz Bhatti said APMA wants police and other officials to find Danish Masih "and protect his family and Christians" against more violence. Christians comprise some three percent of Pakistan’s predominantly Muslim population of 168 million people, according to the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).