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  • » 07/03/2009, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Faisalabad, a Christian tortured and detained on false charges of blasphemy

    Qaiser Felix

    He is accused of having burned pages of the Koran. Charges invented by Muslims in the area, envious of the successful business done by the shop owned by the couple. Director of the Commission for Interreligious Dialogue warns of a "wave of anti-Christian extremism" in the country.

    Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - Tortured at length by a group of Muslims, then arrested by police on charges – perfectly fabricated- that he had burned pages of the Koran. This is what happened last July1st  to Imran Masih, a young Christian from Hajwary, Faisalabad district, yet another victim of blasphemy. For the director of the Commission for Interreligious Dialogue "a new wave of anti-Christian extremism" has started.

    Father Yousaf Yaqub, of the parish of Hajwary confirmed to AsiaNews that the allegations "are totally invented" and the reasons for the attack originate from "business questions." The shop belonging to the young Christian’s family, in fact, is better located and has higher revenues than others in the area. For fear of further attacks by extremists, the relatives of Masih fled to a secret hiding place.

    "Imran was cleaning his fruit and vegetable shop –Fr. Yaqub reports – then he collected waste paper and burned it in the street, a common practice in the area. " The owner of a nearby shop accused the Christian of burning pages of the Koran, calling the attention of other Muslims. Before long, a crowd began to beat and torture the young man, who was only saved by police intervention. The testimony of another Muslim also favored the opening an investigation against Masih.

    The news of his arrest and spread quickly through the various mosques in the city. The prison where the young Christian was being held was besieged by thousands of furious extremists, who called for his death. The crowd blocked the main roads and burned tires

    Fr. Yousaf said that Christians and Muslims have lived in a peaceful way for decades in that area and had never registered incidents of this nature. Poverty, envy in business affairs and the economic crisis may have exacerbated tensions, causing confessional hatred.

     

    Father Aftab James Paul, director of the diocese of Faisalabad’s Commission for Interreligious Dialogue, announced a meeting in the curia between Muslims, Catholics and Protestants in an attempt to dissolve the tension. According to Fr. Paul the recent attacks are a sign of "a new wave of anti-Christian extremism" in the country.

     
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    See also

    02/11/2004 PAKISTAN
    Changes to Blasphemy Law fall short of expectations

    For Christians, the law must be rejected. Human rights activists are dissatisfied with Hudood ordinances.



    03/11/2004 PAKISTAN
    Blasphemy law: death threats against teenage girl forces family to flee


    04/02/2005 PAKISTAN
    New cases of violence and torture against Pakistani Christians
    Instead of investigating, local authorities engage in cover-ups. In some cases, international organisations ignore the plight of Christians.

    21/11/2011 PAKISTAN
    Faisalabad: accused of blasphemy, woman freed thanks to help from Christians and Muslims
    Catholic priest expresses gratitude to Muslim community for conducting “an in-depth investigation” before condemning the Christian woman. He hopes that “a culture of peace and religious harmony” will always prevail. The accused in the case after was charged under the black law over a legal dispute.

    28/02/2005 PAKISTAN
    Christian sentenced to seven years in jail on blasphemy charges
    Police say he tore out pages of the Qu'ran. The law strikes the poor and the defenceless, says Bishop of Faisalabad.



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