"From time to time, a three-year-old Pakistani girl named Diya turns to her mother and repeats one word: "Papa." Her "papa," Pervaiz Masih, died on October 20, 2009 leaving behind a wife, daughter, mother, and other family members. He is being hailed by many as a hero.
A suicide bomber disguised in women's clothing approached the cafeteria at the women's campus of Islamabad's International Islamic University. He shot the guard on duty and then tried to enter the cafeteria where 300 to 400 young women were sitting. The only obstacle was Masih who was working in the cafeteria as a janitor. According to eyewitness reports, Masih told the man that he could not come inside because there were girls inside. They began arguing when suddenly the bomb went off. Because Masih had intercepted the bomber in the doorway, many of the bomber's explosive vest's arsenal of ball bearings shot out into the parking lot instead of into the cafeteria. Three students were killed in the blast, but hundreds were spared due to Masih's heroic efforts.
Masih's actions have captured the attention of many not just because of his lowly occupation and his selfless sacrifice but also because he has been described as a Christian man.
Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik, the rector of the university, stated: "Pervez Masih rose above the barriers of caste, creed and sectarian terrorism. Despite being a Christian, he sacrificed his life to save the Muslim girls."
"He is a national hero because he saved the lives of many girls," said Shahbaz Bhatti, minister of minorities in the Pakistani government. "As a Christian, a person of minority, he stood in front of the Taliban to protect the university."
Masih's courageous conduct reflects the Supreme Sacrifice of Jesus Christ that was made on behalf of ALL people in the world..."
- Information gleaned from "Christian Janitor Died Saving Muslim Students" by Ivan Watson of CNN.com