A Christian sanitation worker whom Muslim doctors declared “unclean” and refused to treat during Ramadan has died from injuries suffered on his job in Pakistan, Morning Star News reported.
Irfan Masih died June 1 of exposure to poisonous gas while trying to clear a sewage line, Morning Star said. Doctors at Umerkot Civil Hospital refused to treat him during Ramadan because the sewerage that dirtied him during the manhole accident made him “unclean” and untouchable, Masih’s brother Baba Masih told Morning Star.
The death comes as the Parliament in the majority Muslim country considers amending the 26-year-old “Respect for Ramadan” law to increase penalties against those who break the fast, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported June 3. Christians often face danger as minorities in majority Muslim countries during the month considered holy in Islam, according to a Mission Network News report during the 2016 observance of Ramadan.
Mike Edens, a New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary dean who served among Muslims in the Middle East for 27 years, described the report of Masih’s death as odd.
“I cannot remember hearing of such an event being attributed to the fast, but there could be many reasons for lack of reporting or my not hearing of such happening,” Edens said.
More accurately, the worker may have been refused treatment because of “tribal and sectarian barriers amplified by Ramadan observance,” Edens said. “Muslims are encouraged to focus their energies and thoughts on God during Ramadan…. When thinking about the creator, professional medical doctors should be helping those around them.”
Christians in Pakistan are typically confined to menial labor by a discriminatory and sectarian caste system. Only 75 Christian families live in Umerkot, and all of them are employed as sanitation workers by the Umerkot Municipal Committee, World Watch Monitor (WWM) reported June 5.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press, Diana Chandler