In early August, a Christian-owned barbershop in Lahore, Pakistan was ransacked and forced to close because it publically displayed Christian symbols and played Christian music. According to the Christian owners, local police have sided with the people who ransacked the barbershop leaving them without a livelihood.
“We were running the barbershop for more than a year and earning a good amount of money,” Masih, whose name has been changed for security reasons, told International Christian Concern (ICC). “It was surrounded by a Muslim neighborhood and other Muslim-owned barbershops were on the same street.”
“We painted the Bible verse ‘My grace is sufficient for you’ on the main door and this was not acceptable for a few Muslim customers,” Masih continued. “They often asked questions about it and tried to engage staff in religious discussions, which we always discouraged.”
After the recent Eid, a group of Muslims entered the barbershop and began verbally abusing the Christian owners regarding the Bible verse and a cross that hung from the front wall. According to the Christian owners, the Muslims falsely accused them of listening the vulgar music, drinking alcohol, and causing a public nuisance.
“We explained to them that we only play Psalms and Christian music with honor and respect to our neighbors and customers,” Masih told ICC. “They did not accept our point of view and told us to remove the Christian symbols from the shop because Muslim customers did not feel comfortable. However, we ignored this demand.”
The next day, a group of over a dozen men ransacked the barbershop. According to the Christian owners, the men wielded iron rods and damaged the shop’s glass door, mirrors, shelves, cupboards, and other equipment.
“They also beat staff and looted cash and other expensive stuff from the shop,” Masih told ICC.
The Christian owners planned to report the incident to police, but before they could, police arrested one of them and accused him of preaching Christianity at the workplace. Fortunately, the Christian owner was released the next day.
“Our business is stopped and we are worried for our daily bread,” Masih told ICC. “This is a very intolerant society. Christians are not accepted when running successful businesses and enjoying leading positions. This discrimination has to be ended.”