03/17/2011, 00.00
PAKISTAN
Send to a friend

Christian "blasphemer" dies of heart failure but relatives speak of poisoning

by Jibran Khan
For hospital staff, the jailed man died from heart failure, but his family note that he was threated after the assassinations of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti. Christian activists believe he is the latest victim of the blasphemy law. Now many fear for the life of Asia Bibi, next on the “list”.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – The post-mortem on the body of Qamar David, a Christian man sentenced to life in prison for blasphemy who died overnight on Monday, indicates that heart failure was the ause of death. The doctor who performed the examination said in his report that there was no wound or injury mark or any sign of assault.  However, his family has objected to the official version, demanding the matter be further investigated. Samples have taken from the body to determine whether he was poisoned by a cellmate or a guard. Meanwhile, Pakistani Christians are rallying around Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother of five sentenced to death for blasphemy, who might be the next victim on the extremists’ “list” after Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti.

According to prison authorities, David was suffering from tuberculosis and under treatment for the disease. The family of the 55-year-old man, which reached Karachi to make arrangements for the funeral, said that the hospital administrations did not allow them to see the body. They explained that he was not suffering from any disease, insisting instead that he had received threats from inmates and prison staff. In their view, he was poisoned. After the murder in January of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, and Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti on 2 March, David was threatened because he had condemned the two crimes.

According to the administrator of the Civil Hospital Col Aziz K M Khan, there was “no wound or injury mark or any sign of assault on Qamar David`s body”. In his view, this confirms that the cause of death was heart failure caused by “stress or depression”. However, since he could not exclude poisoning, samples were sent to a lab for tests and “the internal report may take up to 3-4 weeks."

The body was returned to the family today to be taken back to Lahore for the funeral. His wife said she was concerned about the trip because of possible attacks by extremists.

Representatives of religious minorities and members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in the Sindh Assembly have expressed their condolences to Qamar David’s family. They also called for an inquiry into the real causes of his death.

Fr Anwar Zaki, a priest in Karachi, “thanked political parties that raised their voice in favour of the abolition of the blasphemy law, and showed concern for minorities in Pakistan,” gestures that confirmed the fact that Christians are victims of pressures and threats to convert to Islam.

David’s death has also raised concerns over the fate of Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old Christian women sentenced to death in accordance with the infamous ‘black law’.

The Masihi Foundation expressed fears about her fate because of threats from Muslim fundamentalists. Bibi herself is now afraid that she might be the next victim on a target “list” of after the deaths of Taseer and Bhatti.

Catholic sources in Karachi expressed great sorrow over the death of Qamar David, another victim of the blasphemy law. At this time of Lent, they call for “prayers, especially for Asia Bibi”.

“Everyone has the right to believe or not believe in something,” the Catholic leaders said. “It is inadmissible to use force or threats to get people to convert”.

Send to a friend
Printable version
CLOSE X
See also
"We are optimistic," says Paul Bhatti as Rimsha Masih's bail hearing postponed to Friday
03/09/2012
Karachi: Christian jailed for blasphemy dies in suspicious circumstances, say activists
15/03/2011
Two Muslims accused of blasphemy murdered in two days
17/06/2006
Some 300 people attend funeral of Christian “blasphemer” who died in prison, prayers for Bhatti
18/03/2011
Punjab: Christians remember Salman Taseer and his courageous stance against blasphemy
07/01/2013