19 April, 2015 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


» 04/18/2011
PAKISTAN
Accused of blasphemy, Arif Masih is now free, as fresh anti-Christian attacks go on in Gujranwala
by Jibran Khan
Thanks to the action of the Masihi Foundation, which collected 50 affidavits from mostly Muslim witnesses, the 40-year-old christian man is now free. However, he is now living under protection with his family fearing new attacks. Yesterday, a mob of extremists interrupts Palm Sunday services in Gujranwala. Police respond by arresting Christians.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Arif Masih, the 40-year-old Christian man arrested on 5 April on false blasphemy charges, was freed last night. Police dropped charges against him thanks to the strenuous efforts of the activists of the Masihi Foundation, who demonstrated his innocence. One of Arif’s Muslim neighbours, Shahid Yousaf, had accused him of tearing up a copy of the Qur‘an. The Christian man’s family has been in hiding in a secret location since the start of the affair.

Upon Arif’s release, the Christian Foundation, which is also monitoring the Asia Bibi’s case, whisked him away to safety in an undisclosed location protected by an armed escort fearing possible retaliation by Muslim extremists opposed to his release.

Meanwhile in Gujranwala (Punjab), tensions remain high after police took into custody 12 Christians who had protested an attack against a Christian village when a Muslim mob damaged a local church and disrupted Palm Sunday services.

On 5 April, police arrested Arif Masih, a Christian from Chak Jhumra in the Diocese of Faisalabad, on blasphemy charges. He had allegedly torn out some pages from a copy of the Qur‘an, and sent threatening letters to a group of Muslims, telling they convert to Christianity.

The accusation was made by one Shahid Yousaf, a neighbour with whom Arif Masih had had legal problems. Using the ‘black law’ as a pretext, Shahid tried to get back at his Christian neighbour.

The Masihi Foundation managed “to get affidavits from 50 witnesses, most of them Muslim, who reiterated Masih’s innocence, describing him as a peaceful man of sound character,” Haroon Barkat, the foundation’s director, told AsiaNews. Activists also “launched an international pressure campaign” and “kept in touch with Punjab government officials.”

Last Saturday, as Arif’s family was moving, they were attacked by enraged Muslim mob. “No one was injured”. According to Barkat, the attack was orchestrated by the local mafia, which is trying to get a hold of the Christian family’s possessions.

The Foundation has now placed Arif and his family in a safe hiding place, and found a school for their children. It has also provided them with money to live on.

“We decided to give him security and shelter” because fears persist that, as a free man, the 40-year-old Christian could “be killed at any time.”

Meanwhile, tensions are still running high in Gujranwala (Punjab), where hundreds of Muslims on Saturday attacked the Christian village of Khokarki who had protested against Muslim fundamentalists. The latter had organised a demonstration against a Christian man, Mushtaq Gill, and his son for allegedly desecrating the Qur‘an. The mob in fact wanted to “punish them publicly” before any police investigation was actually carried out.

The next day, Palm Sunday, Muslim demonstrators also interrupted Mass services, provoking a counter-protest by Christians, still angry over the arrest of Mushtaq, 60, vice principal of the Christian Technical Training Center (CTTC), and his son. The CTTC is a part of the theological seminary Gujranwala district of Punjab.

The Christian protest was led by Rev Eric Isaac and involved a group of 12 Christians demonstrating peacefully against the church attack. Christian sources said that Rev Isaac was able “to evade capture”, but police detained the other protesters.

The same sources believe the police to be in collusion with Muslim extremists. At present, the latter has not issued any statement on the matter.


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
04/21/2011 PAKISTAN
Faisalabad: man who killed two Christian brothers charged with blasphemy is sentenced to death
03/03/2010 PAKISTAN
Punjab: Christian couple touches Qur‘an with dirty hands, gets 25 years in prison
by Fareed Khan
10/29/2009 PAKISTAN
Pakistani Christians, from freedom to persecution
by Fareed Khan
10/29/2009 PAKISTAN
What can be done to abolish Pakistan’s blasphemy laws
05/11/2011 PAKISTAN
Sialkot: Muslim businessman uses blasphemy law against Christian rival
by Jibran Khan

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: on the persecution of Christians, the international community should "not stand by mute and inactive” and “look away”For the sixth time in a week, Pope Francis mentioned the martyrdom of Christians in today’s Regina Caeli (the Marian prayer at Easter), slamming the indifference of the international community towards this "alarming failure to protect basic human rights.” Today’s martyrs "are many, and we can say that they are more numerous than in the first centuries." In addition, “Faith in the resurrection of Jesus and the hope He has brought to us is the most beautiful gift that a Christian can and must offer his brothers and sisters. To one and all, therefore, do not tire of repeating: Christ is Risen!”
ASIA
Easter: The silence of the innocent and the gag
by Bernardo CervelleraViolations of religious freedom and the West's hypocricy surrounding this issue are likely to drag the world into an unprecedented chaos. But even in silence - of death accepted for love or death inflicted by power - God is at work. An indestructible hope rises on Easter morning and a small opening of the heart is just enough for it to invade a lifetime. Happy Easter.
IRAN
Time for a deal with Tehran, a reliable partner against the Islamic State group
by Bernardo Cervellera A framework agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue has to be inked by 31 March. US Republicans, Israel and Saudi Arabia are fiercely opposed to it for ulterior motives. Hassan Rouhani wants Iran to come back into the international fold. Tehran is playing a mediating role in the Middle East. For Vatican nuncio, “there is no evidence that Iran is preparing a nuclear bomb.”

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.