04/05/2007, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Life of 11-year-old Christian in danger even though he is not charged with anything

by Qaiser Felix
Blasphemy accusations have been made against five Christians, the youngest a 16-year-old, after a quarrel between boys that was blamed on the 11-year-old. Local Christians are afraid that he might become the target of violence.

Toba Tek Singh (AsiaNews) – He may not be personally accused of anything, but the life of Daniel Masih is still in danger. The 11-year-old Christian from Punjab is still mixed up in an alleged blasphemy case involving another minor, 16-year-old, Rashid Masih, this according to additional investigations into the affair which has touched the Christian community of Toba Tek Singh.

The boy’s “life is at stake but he has not been charged with blasphemy. We are afraid that he has become a target for local Muslims who have pressed charges against five local Christians after he got involved in a quarrel with Muslim kids.”

Although accusations of blasphemy were laid against the five Christians last Sunday, “Daniel is not under investigation. The five are: Salamat Masih, 41, the only one arrested so far; Rashid Masih, a 16-year-old minor; Sahba Mashi Motta, Sheela Masih and Bao Masih”.

Whatever the case, “Daniel’s life is in danger because the accusations are based on a quarrel he had with some Muslim boys.”

“Daniel had a row with other kids in Toba Tek Singh and their disagreement reached the parents who also quarrelled. Perhaps the blasphemy accusation was a way to get back at the Christians,” said Fr Bonnie Mendes, a local priest.

In fact, “during the procession for the Eid-e-Millad-ul-Nabi, Muslim parents started spreading rumours about Christians, saying that they were blasphemers who insulted the prophet. They even prodded the faithful in the procession to help them wipe away the shame,” he explained.

The mob then “moved towards the Christian area, Boarding Road, and began throwing stones at Christian houses. They were armed with sticks and bricks. A 25-year-old disabled Christian man, Ratan Masih, was hurt.”

As if that was not enough, “they filed charges against five men,” the priest said. “Now Salamat is in prison, and we are very worried about little Daniel, who could become a target.”

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