02/27/2018, 16.46
PAKISTAN
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Christians fast to save young man wounded during an interrogation

by Kamran Chaudhry

Two protests are held at the same time in Lahore and Karachi. Sajid Masih is in a Lahore hospital. The Christian man jumped from the window of the Punjab police headquarters to escape torture by agents.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Christians in Lahore and Karachi held demonstrations against police brutality, which drove Sajid Masih, a 24-year-old Christian man, to jump from the fourth floor of the Punjab police headquarters during his interrogation.

The young man is currently at the Lahore government hospital in serious conditions. He is the cousin of another Christian, Patras Masih, who was charged with blasphemy for a comment posted on Facebook.

Rawadari Tehreek (Movement for tolerance) slammed police for the torture inflicted on the injured man whilst in their custody and demand that those responsible be punished.

Some 30 members of the group staged a protest in front of the Lahore Press Club, chanting slogans like "Shame on FIA" and "Justice for Sajid". The FIA is the Federal Investigation Agency.

The rally follows a statement by the 24-year-old Christian man, who in a shocking video said he was forced to jump out of the window because of abuse by the police, who tortured him, forced him to insult his cousin, and wanted him to perform sex oral on the latter.

"We reject the work of the FIA committee,” said Munir Ahmad Bhatti, a lawyer for the Rawadari Tehreek, and a Muslim. “We demand an independent commission to oversee his [Sajid's] medical treatment.”

"All the proceedings along with the findings of the police interrogation should be made public,” he added. “We are here for humanity. Sajid was not even named in the First Information Report of the blasphemy case.”

Another protest took place before the Karachi Press Club, where Christians condemned the silence of religious and political leaders.

The case began last week in the village of Dhir, Shahdara district, when Patras Masih was accused and arrested for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

About 800 Christian families living in the area fled their homes fearing retaliation by radical Muslims. Some have begun going home only now.

On Sunday, some 200 Christians took part in a liturgical service. Rev Sanfia Bashir, pastor at the Bethany Church, near Patras’s family home, invited all Christians to "fend off prevailing problems".

"After the incident, my 70-year-old father-in-law suffered a heart attack,” he told AsiaNews. “My family has been criticised for helping the [alleged] blasphemer. Locals have also been threatened.”

"Yesterday I recorded a video at church in which I explain that the community should not be targeted for an accusation addressed to a single Christian. The majority community will be held responsible for any trouble before the conclusion of the investigation or the trial."

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