A Christian man in his twenties was reportedly shot and killed by a Muslim co-worker in Pakistan after refusing to convert to Islam, Pakistani and Christian news sites are reporting.

The incident, which occurred last Wednesday, came on the heels of a new study which reported that hundreds of Christian and Hindu women in Pakistan are forced to convert to Islam every year.

The 22-year-old named Haroon began a new job as a cleaner at a bank in Lahore just days before his death, according to the reports. That’s where he began working with a Muslim security guard identified as Umer Farooq.

“Farooq mocked Haroon’s Christian faith on a daily basis” and tried to convince him to embrace Islam, Pakistan Christian Post reported.

Pakistani soldiers stand guard at a local church before Christmas in Multan, Pakistan on Thursday, Dec 24, 2009. Pakistan’s Christian leadership decided to celebrate Christmas cautiously due to ongoing violence and attacks on the Christian community in Gojra. (Photo: AP/Khalid Tanveer)

Pakistani soldiers stand guard at a local church before Christmas in Multan, Pakistan on Thursday, Dec 24, 2009. Pakistan’s Christian leadership decided to celebrate Christmas cautiously due to ongoing violence and attacks on the Christian community in Gojra. (Photo: AP/Khalid Tanveer)

The British advocacy group the Center for Legal Aid and Settlement (CLAAS), which monitors persecution of Christians in Pakistan, said in a statement that Farooq had promised Haroon a life of luxury and marriage to a wealthy Muslim woman if only he would convert. According to various reports, Haroon refused.

When Haroon went to work on April 16, the conversation over faith again resumed, CLAAS said.

Again hearing his colleague refused to convert away from Christianity, Farooq reportedly then shot Haroon in the head. Christian Today reported that Farooq later said Haroon had tried to kill himself.

The Religious Freedom Coalition reported the security guard had also told police his co-worker – the father of two young children – had “looked depressed.”

But Haider Masih, father of the deceased, was quoted by the Religious Freedom Coalition saying his son “was a lively young man” who had shown no signs of depression.

The British monitoring group CLAAS said that while police took the guard into custody, they did not file the documentation known as a First Information Report necessary to proceed with a criminal case in Pakistan.

The local Christian community later protested at the police station, after which the paperwork was reportedly filed.  The case is currently under investigation with the suspect still in police custody.

Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS-UK, said, “Justice must be seen to be done and Farooq must be charged with murder, and punished for killing Haroon, just because he refused to forsake his faith and bow to the pressure being placed on him.”

Earlier this month, a report issued by the Pakistani human rights group the Movement for Solidarity and Peace estimated that about 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls and women between the ages of 12 and 25 in Pakistan each year are forced to convert away from their faiths and marry Muslim men.

Christian Today called the study “extremely alarming,” because Christians – who make up less than 5% of the population – are such a small minority in the majority Muslim country.

Earlier this month, a Pakistani Christian couple was sentenced to death after being accused of sending a text message to a local Muslim leader insulting the prophet Mohammed. The couple has denied the charges and says they will appeal.

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