A CHRISTIAN barber in Sargodha, Pakistan is recovering from broken bones and other injuries sustained earlier this month after eight Muslims allegedly beat and sodomised him for cutting a young Muslim’s beard.
Marwat Masih, 29, initially refused to cut 19-year-old Qandeel Cheema’s beard, knowing that Sunni Muslims in the area believe the Koran prohibits it. But Cheema, a high school student, told Masih that he had lived and studied in Lahore and therefore wanted a more modern look.
I refused to shave his beard, but he showed me his packed bags and said that he would leave the town straight after the shave, and so no one would ever know that I had shaved it.
Eyewitnesses said that as Masih was cutting Cheema’s beard, the client’s older brother – local radical Muslim land owner, Shakeel Cheema – spotted what was happening.
When Shakeel Cheema saw me shaving his younger brother’s beard, he became angry and started vandalising mirrors, the sound system and chairs, and he desecrated a wooden cross perched on the top of the front mirrors. He also started beating my head with his shoes.
Witnesses said that Shakeel Cheema shouted orders to his companions to tie Masih up and throw him into the wagon attached to his tractor, and that he ordered his younger brother to leave for Lahore at once.
Masih said that he was blindfolded with a black cloth and taken to an unknown place where he was locked in a room. An hour later, Shakeel Cheema and seven others arrived and began striking him with clubs, breaking his ribs, a wrist and leg bones.
Masih claimed that Cheema and seven others sodomised him after Cheema said:
Now we are going to teach you a real lesson for shaving the beard of a Muslim man.
I started bleeding and fell unconscious.
The assaulted man was taken by his family to a rural health centre, where doctors treated him for internal bleeding and the broken ribs, leg bones and wrist.
Laal Masih, the barber’s father, said:
We submitted an application to the Saddr police twice, but they took no action against Shakeel Cheema and his accomplices.
Muhammad Maqsood, a shopkeeper adjacent to Masih’s barbershop, insisted that the barber deserved the abuse:
He deserves such punishment, as he did something that is forbidden according to the teaching of the Koran and the sunna. Marwat Masih paid for his crime.
Masih’s 36-year-old brother Hassrat Masih said that Gulshan-e-Bashir, the town where Masih has his shop, is infested mainly by radical Muslims.
Therefore, almost all of them are against shaving. Having a beard is seen as holy practice because it is a standard prescribed for all Muslims in the sunna, or teachings or actions of the prophet of Islam.