21 October, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 10/29/2009
PAKISTAN
Save Christians and Pakistan from the blasphemy law
by Dario Salvi
The blasphemy law - prison and death sentences for those who offend the Koran or Muhammad - is a tool to eliminate religious minorities. AsiaNews launches an awareness campaign for its repeal. Because of this law, since 2001 at least 50 Christians have been killed, families and entire villages destroyed. In the country Islamic and Christian voices appeal for its cancellation.

Rome (AsiaNews) - Robert Fanish Masih is the latest Christian victim of the blasphemy law in force in Pakistan since 1986. This law punishes with imprisonment or the death those who profane or desecrate the Koran or the prophet Muhammad. It’s enough to accuse a person of this to have him arrested and imprisoned.  A aberrant law and harbinger of discrimination, which "legalizes" violence against religious minorities and whose perpetrators go unpunished in most cases, thanks to the connivance of police and government officials. 20 year old Robert from the village of Jaithikey, not far from the city of Samberial in the district of Sialkot (Punjab), was arrested on Sept. 12 on charges of blasphemy. The day before a crowd of Muslims had gathered around the local church first damaging the building, then setting it on fire. The extremists also looted two houses adjoining the church.
 
The youth was accused of having "provoked" a girl, of taking a Koran from her hands and "throwing it away". The truth is that wrath of Islamic fundamentalists was provoked by the relationship between the Christian and the Muslim girl of twenty one, the witness who incriminated Fanish, in fact, is the young woman’s mother. Father Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Church (NCJP), made it clear that fundamentalists "will not tolerate a Muslim girl falling in love with a Christian." The night between 12 and 13 September Robert Fanish Masih died in prison, from violenceinflicted upon him. The body of the young man showed signs of deep wounds to the head, caused by an edged weapon. Shortly after the discovery of the corpse, Waqar Ahmad Chohan, an officer of the police district of Sialkot, reported that Fanish "committed suicide in his cell." A theory that has been flatly rejected by many Christian leaders, some of whom saw the young man’s body before the funeral. Nadeem Anthony – a member of the National Commission for Human Rights (HRCP) – immediately filed a report of the case as "legalized homicide", contradicting the police version of "hanging in jail."
 
The activist then added that Robert "was tortured, after which he died. There are visible signs of beatings and wounds on his body, as is clear from the photographs. " In the days following his death, AsiaNews has received photos of the corpse, confirming the torture inflicted, and that his death had nothing to do with signs of strangulation by hanging. Fanish Masih's funeral, celebrated on 16 September, was marked by tear gas, many injuries and a series of arrests, the police charged the crowd of Christians gathered for the funeral, justifying the harsh attack, by saying that "they wanted to prevent further disorder ". The body was buried in a Catholic cemetery in Sialkot, the district of origin of the young man, where for several days an atmosphere charged with tension reigned.
 
The accusations of blasphemy often lead to decreeing the destruction of homes and Christian villages. On 30 July a crowd of 3 thousand Muslims attacked and burned the villages of Koriyan to punish an alleged case of blasphemy. On August 1 the fanatics attacked the village of Gojra, killing 7 people, including women and children, burning them alive. The history of recent decades in Pakistan is full of attacks on churches and Christian villages on the grounds of perfectly fabricated blasphemy scandals: Kasur (June 2009), Tias (Karachi, April 2009); Sangla Hill (2005); Shantinagar (1997). The Joint Action Committee for People's Rights (JAC), a Pakistani non-governmental organization that campaigns for human rights in the country, expresses "great concern" about the increasing violence, while the Christian community through appeals – which have so far fallen on deaf ears – for justice to be done; promises of compensation remain unfulfilled
 
The list of incidence of violence against Christians by Muslim groups, citing a blasphemy, is long and concerns not only Christians but also other minorities, not just individuals but entire towns and villages. Faced with the growth of this gratuitous and petty violence, covered by the cloak of religion, opposing voices that are increasing in strength are beginning to emerge. On 6 October, the Lower House of Parliament Sherry Rehman, former Minister of Information, and Jameela Gilani, both Muslims, called for the repeal of the blasphemy law.  The same day, the Christian MP Akram Masih Gill launched a provocation: "If there is life in prison - he says - for blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad and the Quran, why not introduce a similar punishment for those who shame the name of Christ and the Bible? !”. Confident of this interfaith support, on 25 October, the leaders of Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC), which gathers all the Christian organizations in the country, organized a conference in Rawalpindi under the threat of Islamic fundamentalists. The aim was "the total abolition of the blasphemy laws."
 
In turn, on December 12 and 13 next, the International Minorities Alliance (IMA), a Christian-based organization, launched an "International Conference on Minorities" in Lahore to discuss the future of Pakistan and minorities. Pakistan, which in fact originated as a secular state in defence of all ethnic and religious communities, has become an Islamic republic, which gradually kills minorities, even those most devoted to building the nation. The abolition of the blasphemy laws and all laws against minorities are also the way to true progress of the entire population of Pakistan.
 
With this special issue, AsiaNews , which has always been attentive to issues of religious freedom and respect for human rights, aims to offer some tools for understanding and also to show solidarity with Christians, Ahmadis and Sikhs against this shameful law.

e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
10/29/2009 PAKISTAN
The Catholic Church in Pakistan (An overview)
02/27/2010 PAKISTAN
Karachi, a Christian sentenced to life imprisonment for blasphemy
by Fareed Khan
06/20/2013 PAKISTAN
Christian minister in Islamabad: Economics and minority rights, here are my challenges
by Jibran Khan
09/18/2009 PAKISTAN
Governor of Punjab; the law on blasphemy should be abolished
by Fareed Khan
11/03/2004 PAKISTAN
Blasphemy law: death threats against teenage girl forces family to flee
VATICAN
Blessed John Paul II and our mission
VATICAN
Pope John Paul II is blessed for his strong, generous, apostolic faith
VATICAN - ISLAM
John Paul II and the Muslims
PAKISTAN
Education, more than economy, antidote to "Talibanization" of Pakistan
PAKISTAN
Archbishop emeritus of Lahore: rethinking the curriculum, focusing on equal rights
PAKISTAN
Muslim journalist advocates public schools along Christian model
PAKISTAN
Paul Bhatti, a "mafia" prevents stability and better education
PAKISTAN
Education in Pakistan: the crisis in numbers (An overview)
VATICAN – MIDDLE EAST
The Synod to support the Churches of the Middle East and the universal mission, Pope says
ASIA
The example of Mother Teresa: science and wisdom for our time
VATICAN-CYPRUS-MIDDLE EAST
Pope: Synod to reinforce solidarity among Christians of the Middle East
VATICAN - MIDDLE EAST
Fr. Samir: Christians together, the small flock and hope in the Middle East
PHILIPPINES
Manila "virtual" pilgrimage to 7 churches to meditate on the sufferings of Christ
PAKISTAN
Easter in Pakistan where an "unshakable" faith is stronger than fear
CHINA
Catholics in Yunnan and Guizhou fear drought, fires this Easter
VATICAN
Pope: live Holy Week intensely, to conform our lives to Jesus
INDIA
Easter baptisms, a right and the life of the Church, Card Gracias says
VIETNAM
"Mission means bringing God’s love to all" says father Ngo Phuc Hau
VATICAN
Pope: Lent, a call to "turn our lives around"
PAKISTAN – UNITED NATIONS
Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy campaign at the UN minorities forum
PAKISTAN - EU
Blasphemy in Pakistan and the European Court’s attack on the crucifix
PAKISTAN
Islamabad asks for "suggestions" from Christians to repeal blasphemy law
CHINA
China celebrates its rosy future without dealing with the past or present
VATICAN
Pope: encyclical, even globalization in need of a soul
ISLAM – EGYPT – USA
Fr. Samir: Obama on Islam pleases, but there are some lies and silences
CHINA - HONG KONG
Card. Zen: 20 years on from Tiananmen, Deng is dead: it's time to change the Chinese dictatorship
HONG KONG – CHINA
Thousands march in Hong Kong to remember Tiananmen
CHINA - HONG KONG
Hong Kong trade unionist: China risks another Tiananmen
VATICAN – PALESTINE
Pope shows courage against being used, Palestinian leader says
VATICAN – PALESTINE
Walls are easily built, but sooner or later they fall, Pope says
VATICAN-PALESTINE
Palestinians have a right to a homeland, but must reject terrorism, says Pope
VATICAN-ISRAEL
Pope: friendship with Jews, dialogue with Islam and all together to work for peace
VATICAN – ISRAEL
Holocaust can never be denied, belittled or forgotten, Pope says
INDIA – HOLY LAND
Pope’s trip to the Holy Land helps peace and dialogue, says Indian Muslim scholar
VATICAN-ISRAEL
Pope speaks of Shoah, peace and two states for two peoples on arrival in Israel
VATICAN – JORDAN
Pope describes visit to Mosque “a splendid day”
VATICAN-JORDAN
Pope: believers reject the “corruption” of violence and “cultivate” reason
INDIA - VATICAN
Kashmir: Young converts from Islam pray for Benedict XVI
CHINA
Charter 08, a plea for human rights in China | complete text
INDIA – ITALY
Shame on India, Europe and the world
INDIA
Fr Edward, survivor of arson in Orissa: the Hindu radicals are terrorists
CHINA
As Beijing bids farewell to the world a brief assessment of the Olympic Games
CHINA
China gets the gold medal in human rights violations
CHINA
The false images of the Beijing Olympics
CHINA
Olympic Games open in Beijing
IRAQ – VATICAN – WYD
Iraqi WYD, so far from Sydney, so close to the Pope’s heart
VATICAN – WYD
Bear witness to Christ in a world weary of false promises, Pope tells young people at WYD
VATICAN - WYD
The new Pentecost of young people in Sydney
CHINA
World leaders at the Olympic-market
CHINA
Beijing ready for Olympics of suspicion and silence
ITALY – CHINA – VATICAN
More than 500 Chinese Catholics in Rome to pray for China with the Pope
MORATORIUM ON ABORTION - INDIA
Indian communist atheist, supports the moratorium on abortion
ISLAM - EGYPT
Hegazi Case: Is there a plan for the world’s conversion to Islam?
ISLAM - EGYPT
Hegazi case: Islam’s obsession with conversions
CHINA
Beijing 2008: intellectuals and activists publish letter on Olympic Games and human rights
CHINA
Investments and environmental disaster: the two faces of the Olympics
PHILIPPINES - ITALY
Fr. Zanchi: the kidnapping of Fr. Giancarlo has caused many to discover what a missionary is
VATICAN – TAIWAN – CHINA
China needs the Catholic Church, says Taiwan’s Ambassador Tou
CHINA – VATICAN
Subdued but predictable reactions in China to Pope’s letter
CHINA – VATICAN
Pope’s letter is key to China’s development, says Mgr Li Jingfeng
IRAQ
Terrorists sack and occupy a convent in Baghdad
BRAZIL – VATICAN
Pope: Youth, do not waste your life; build a just and fraternal society
IRAQ
Chaldean Patriarch: Christians persecuted by Iraqi government and foreign troops
VATICAN – IRAQ
Holy See: international solidarity for Iraqi refugees
VATICAN - CHINA
Pope and Cardinals : Consensus on China
VATICAN - CHINA
The Pope prepares a letter to China’s Catholics
Beijing and the Vatican: small steps and religious freedom
IRAQ – ITALY – year of the eucharist
Terrorism seeks to take away life, the Eucharist gives it back, says Iraqi priest

Editor's choices
IRAQ - ITALY
Almost 700,000 euros raised as the 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' campaign continues
by Bernardo CervelleraA second instalment is sent with funds raised in September. The fate of East-West relations is being played out in the Middle East and Iraq. Pope Francis and the Synod issue an appeal. Governments are lukewarm. Aid is coming from around the world. A new international community is defeating the "globalisation of indifference."
IRAQ-VATICAN
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul": Archbishops’ thanks as first aid arrives
by Amel NonaMsgr. Amel Nona, the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, who is also a refugee himself, thanks all the donors to the AsiaNews campaign. The situation is increasingly difficult given the huge number of refugees and the arrival of winter and snow, making outdoor shelters and tents impossible. The crisis, an occasion that activates the faith of Christians.
ITALY - IRAQ
After raising € 350,000, 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' campaign continues
by Bernardo CervelleraDonations raised up to 31 August have been sent to the patriarch of Baghdad and the bishops of Kurdistan. The campaign helps to feed, house, clothe, and bring comfort to more than 150,000 Christian, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shia and Sunni refugees who fled the violence of the army of the Islamic Caliphate. People in Italy and around the world have been generous, including the poor and the unemployed, a sign of hope for the world as well as those who suffer and those who give.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.