Two Muslim men tortured and then set fire to a 14-year-old Christian boy in Pakistan after stopping him and asking his religious affiliation, according to a horrific new report from a Christian group.
Currently, the victim, identified only as Nuaman, is being held at Meo Hospital in Lahore in Punjab province where he is being treated for severe burns which cover more than 55 percent of his body.
On Sunday, Christian group The Voice Society reported that the boy was coming from a tailor's shop when he was attacked by the two young men, who going for Friday prayers to their mosque in Pakistan's Lahore city
The two Muslims, who have not been identified, stopped him and asked what his religion was.
"I told them that I am Christian. They started beating me, when I tried running, both boys started following me through the street and then they threw Kerosene on me and burnt me," Nuaman was quoted as saying. "I kept on running when a heap of sand came my way, I lied down on the sand ... [A] few people from the community ... [extinguished] fire by putting sand on me. I became unconscious, and they called 1122 Emergency medical helpline and called [for] an ambulance."
Nuaman, who has lived with his paternal uncle after his parents died when he was four years old, said he does not know the attackers, but can identify them with their faces.
This kind of tragic situation is becoming far more common in Pakistan, where hatred against Christians has reached unprecedented levels despite Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's repeated promises to protect believers, who make up just 2% of the country's population.
In March, 15 people were killed in two simultaneous attacks on churches in a Christian area of the city of Lahore. A Pakistani Taliban splinter group has since claimed responsibility for the attack, which left another 80 people injured.
Then, in November, a Christian couple, Shama and Shahzad, were tortured by a Muslim mob and burnt alive in a brick kiln furnace after being falsely accused of desecrating the Quran.
"There is so much hate speech against minorities and flaws in the school curriculum, but nothing has been done to do away with it," explained Peter Jacob, a Christian activist in Lahore. He emphasized that despite Pakistan's military efforts against the Taliban and other Islamist militants, the "root causes of extremism" have not been adequately addressed.
Nasir Saeed, Director CLAAS-UK, said that instead of empty promises, the Pakistani government must come up with a long-term plan to prevent such incidents occurring.
"The perpetrators must be brought to justice for lessons to be learned and to act as deterrents," he told the Jihad Watch. "Other people, and if necessary the government, must introduce some stringent punishment."
In the meantime, Mr. Saeed is encouraging Christians across the world to pray for their brothers and sisters being persecuted and killed in Muslim countries for nothing except their Christian faith. He also emphasized that it is the duty of the international community to take notice of the growing situation against Christians in Pakistan and other Muslim countries.
"The Christian community is a soft target for militant outfits in Pakistan," Rabia Mehmood, a researcher at the Jinnah Institute, a Pakistani think tank, said. "But generally Christians and other religious minorities are under a constant threat by the extremist elements in the society and rampant religious intolerance."