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  • » 02/23/2012, 00.00


    Christian teacher accused of blasphemy in Lahore

    Jibran Khan

    A mob stormed the school where Saira Khokhar teaches in an attempt to abduct her after she was accused of burning a copy of the Qur'an. Little is known of the affair, but police had to take the woman into custody even though no formal charges have yet been laid. Paul Bhatti and other Christian activists have come to her defence.

    Lahore (AsiaNews) - After Asia Bibi, another Christian woman has been targeted by Muslim fundamentalists because of allegations of blasphemy. Saira Khokhar, who teaches at the City Foundation School in Lahore, is accused of burning a copy of the Qur'an. However, the case is still shrouded in mystery.

    Police took Ms Khokhar into custody and launched an informal investigation. No First Information Report (FIR) has been filed yet, but Christian activists and organisation along with the special adviser to the prime minister on minority affairs, Paul Bhatti, are closely monitoring developments to ensure her safety and rights.

    Local sources told AsiaNews that at 9 am a mob from a village not far from the school burst into the building accusing Saira Khokhar of burning Islam's holy book. The school is run by a Christian NGO, City Foundation. The attackers seized the woman but police prevented them from taking her away.

    The local police chief took the Christian teacher into custody to examine whether the case warranted a First Information Report.

    Representatives from human rights associations, the Masihi Foundation, the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) and Life for All came to her rescue. Paul Bhatti, brother of Catholic Minority Affairs Minister Shabbaz Bhatti who was slain by extremists on 2 March 2011 for his opposition to the country's 'black law', also came to her defence.

    Christian activists plan to monitor the affair to guarantee Saira's safety and stop any formal charges of burning a copy of the Qur'an from being laid in.

    They want to prevent a repeat of the Asia Bibi affair, the 45-year-old mother of five who was sentenced to death on false blasphemy charges. Bibi, who is currently being held in a prison in Punjab, is still waiting for her appeal to be heard after several postponements.


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    See also

    04/07/2005 PAKISTAN
    Police fail to uphold amended Blasphemy Law
    The chairman of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance criticises police following attacks against Christians and Hindus in Noswhera and after a man is arrested for allegedly desecrating the Qu'ran.

    03/11/2004 PAKISTAN
    Blasphemy law: death threats against teenage girl forces family to flee

    19/08/2011 PAKISTAN
    Punjab: Christian family held slave to a Muslim landowner for 30 years
    The father had signed a loan for his daughter's wedding. Interest rates of up to 500%, made it impossible to repay the money. So 26 people, including women and children, have lived like modern slaves in ten household of a Muslim. More cases of marriages and forced conversions of Christian girls.

    19/07/2010 PAKISTAN
    On trial for blasphemy, two Christian brothers murdered in Faisalabad
    Rashid Emmanuel and Sajid Masih Emmanuel were shot to death outside the courthouse right after a trial hearing. Both were handcuffed on their way back to prison. Police were going to clear them of the accusations. For days, Muslim religious leaders had incited Muslim faithful against the two, calling for their death.

    13/04/2006 PAKISTAN
    Christian woman nailed with Muslim blasphemy charge for defending cross

    Naseem Bibi is in solitary confinement: at the peak of enraged Muslim protests against the Muhammad cartoons, she fought with demonstrators for desecrating Christianity.

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