The Unseen Victims of Persecution

My latest story for WORLD focuses on children left behind when their parents are persecuted.

The barbaric murder of Shahzad Masih and his pregnant wife Shama Bibi by a Muslim mob in Pakistan last November shocked the world. But they were not the only victims that day. The murders orphaned their four children.

“Really often, we here in the West or as observers of persecution, we focus on the direct victims: the people accused of blasphemy and then killed,” said William Stark of International Christian Concern (ICC). “Something we don’t talk about enough, I think, are secondary victims. Those are the children of victims.”

A mob seized, beat and burned the couple alive after they were accused (without evidence) of desecrating a Quran. The killing was a national “embarrassment” for Pakistan, said Stark, ICC’s regional manager for Southeast Asia.

The couple’s four children, who were 8, 5, 4 and 18 months old at the time of the attack, now live with relatives. Since then, a Pakistan-based Catholic charity in Lahore offered to provide the children with an education. According to Asia News, the Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF) is paying for school fees, books, uniforms, and transportation. The two oldest children, Suleiman and Sonia, already are taking classes.

Continued reading at WORLD.

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