25 April, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

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





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


» 08/13/2012 17:24
PAKISTAN
Christian leader falsely charged of blasphemy in Islamabad
by Jibran Khan
The complaint against him claims he sent text messages insulting Muhammad's mother. Legal experts say the case is flawed because charges were laid under the wrong section of the Criminal Code. Human rights activists pledge a battle in court. For Mgr Rufin Anthony, personal animosities are behind the case.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Once again, Pakistan's blasphemy law has been used to bring unsubstantiated charges against members of religious minorities. Rev Zafar Bhatti, president of the Jesus World Mission, is in prison after he was accused of violating the 'black law.' Judges now must decide whether or not to heed the appeal made on his behalf and release him on bail. A Muslim leader said the Christian clergyman sent him text messages that insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. Catholic leaders and human rights activists have responded immediately, pleading for his innocence, noting that police has been subjected to pressures and that the case is vitiated by errors in law.

Rev Bhatti hails from Karachi, but moved to Lahore in 2010, in Nawaz Sharif Colony, where he has worked on behalf of local Christians and religions minorities for the past two years. On 10 July, he decided to move with his family to the capital Islamabad. The next day, Ahmed Khan, deputy Secretary of the local Jamat Ehl-e-Sunnat, unexpectedly filed a complaint against the Christian clergyman at the New Town police station, in Rawalpindi.

According to the police report, Khan received some text messages on his mobile phone with insulting language towards Muhammad's mother from an unregistered but visible number, which he kept in the phone's memory. At the police station, he said that if the agents did not open an investigation for blasphemy under article 295-C of the Penal Code, his organisation would take matters in its own hands.

The affair is full of holes however, including the charges against the Christian minister. Offenders who violate Article 295, Sections B and C, of the Penal Code could get the death penalty. However, insulting the prophet's mother falls under Article 295, Section A, which entails lighter sentences.

Police arrested Rev Bhatti on 16 July and his sister-in-law Nasreen Bibi. In custody, the pastor was physically abused and tortured to extract a confession but he stood his ground, rejecting the accusation and insisting on his innocence.

His wife turned to All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), an associated founded by Shahbaz Bhatti, asking for justice. Today, a court hearing is expected to rule on his demand for release on bail.

"Zhaffar Bhatti is innocent," said Khalid Jill, of APMA. "We are going to fight for his release." In his view, police began a case against him under "pressure," but we "are going to appeal because he was charged under the wrong article of the law."

Mgr Rufin Anthony, bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, is of the same opinion. "How can police be sure" about the offender's identity? "It is clear that it is a case of personal animosity," probably in connection with some land.

 


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
07/16/2012 PAKISTAN
Christians condemn the killing of Muslim man for blasphemy in Punjab
by Imran Morris
07/04/2005 PAKISTAN
Police fail to uphold amended Blasphemy Law
by Qaiser Felix
11/03/2004 PAKISTAN
Blasphemy law: death threats against teenage girl forces family to flee
09/30/2004 PAKISTAN
Anti-blasphemy law: harassment and violence for all religions alike
08/31/2013 PAKISTAN
Lahore: Christian widow threatened by husband’s Muslim family, Islam or death
by Jibran Kahn

Editor's choices
ITALY - ASIA
Easter, victory over death and impotence
by Bernardo Cervellera
SYRIA
I will miss you Fr Frans, you inspired us all, says Syrian Jesuit
by Tony Homsy*A young priest from the Society of Jesus remembers the life and work of Fr Frans van der Lugt, who was killed in Homs after he refused to abandon residents beleaguered by hunger and war. "He gave and continues to give everything for the Church, Syria, and peace. His story and qualities made him an exceptional missionary and witness to the Gospel." Reprinted courtesy of 'The Jesuit Post'.
FRANCE - IRAQ
Chaldean Patriarch on the uncertain future of eastern Christians, a bridge between the West and Islam
by Mar Louis Raphael I SakoThe wars in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan have made things worse for their peoples, especially minorities. As Western policies have been a failure, fundamentalism has grown with the Arab Spring losing out to extremism. Muslim authorities have a role in protecting rights and religious freedom. The presence of Christians in the Middle East is crucial for Muslims.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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.