The Catholic Church in Pakistan has condemned discrimination against the country’s religious minorities after the recent death of a Christian who was murdered in a brutal sectarian attack.

The attack was carried out on June 4 by Muslim neighbours in Sawati Phatak Colony, Peshawar, who objected to a Christian family moving into their majority-Muslim area.

Nadeem Joseph resisted their demands for days, insisting that Christians had a right to live in the area but, after locals issued a 24-hour ultimatum, he noticed that some of them were approaching him carrying guns.

Before Nadeem Joseph could call the police, he was shot in the stomach and his mother-in-law and brother-in-law were also wounded in the attack.

The family were taken to the nearby Lady Reading Hospital, but Nadeem died there on June 29 after his fifth operation. Agenzia Fides reports that Nadeem’s wife said her “mother and brother are still recovering from their wounds.”

The authorities have arrested several members of the Khan family said to be responsible for the murder.

The Pakistan Catholic bishops’ National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) issued a statement calling on the police to make sure the crime did not go “unpunished”, describing the murderous attack as a “clear violation of human rights”.

The NCJP also called on the authorities to protect the Joseph family from reprisals, after Nadeem’s wife said that the family “have lived in fear since that day” of the shootings.

Pakistan’s Catholic bishops added their broader concern that the country’s “religious minorities continue to face discrimination as part of their daily lives.”

The NCJP referenced restrictions on aid and relief to non-Muslims during the pandemic and the success of a recent Islamist campaign to prevent a new Hindu temple being built in Islamabad.

“The government must work to safeguard the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan enshrined in our Constitution,” the NCJP said.

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