07/06/2009, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Faisalabad, Christians and Muslims investigating case of young man charged with blasphemy

Qaiser Felix
An inter-religious committee will examine the case of Imran Masih, arrested and tortured for having burned pages of the Koran and beaten by police. A Catholic priest points out that is a "positive step" to dissolve the tension. Involving Muslim leaders to dismantle the charges against the young man.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - Christians and Muslims Leaders will investigate the case of Imran Masih, a young Christian accused of blasphemy and currently detained in Faisalabad district jail. According to Justice and Peace, the youth - already tortured by a furious mob of Muslims - has also suffered violence at the hands of the police.

26 year-old Imran Masih, is accused of burning some pages of the Koran and was first arrested last July. The decision to create an independent committee, made up of Christians and Muslims, was unanimously made on July 3rd, during a summit at the diocesan curia. Approximately 60 law experts including Muslims, Catholic priests, Protestant pastors, lay people and relatives of  the victim attended the event.

Father Aftab James Paul, director of the Diocesan Commission for Interreligious Dialogue, points out to AsiaNews that the committee is "a positive step to dissolve the tension." It will investigate the matter "in an independent manner", while the police "will do its duty as they wish." The priest explained that the objective is to "engage moderate Muslim leaders" so they may discover that "it was not something intentional, as reported by a witness in the case against Imran Masih”.   The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) has provided free legal assistance to the young man.

Father Nisar Barkat, Director of Faisalabad NCJP, met Imran in prison and reported that the boy “was beaten by the police ", but there was no evidence of torture on the part of prison guards. He is in "good" health, even if sorely tried by the episode. The priest reported the words of Imran Masih, who confirms that he “burned sheets of paper after cleaning the shop”, but that among them there were no pages from the Koran.

Ghaffur Masih, Imran’s father says he has no idea “who is there behind all of this”. The man, father of six children including four girls and two boys, adds that "the family has owned the shop for 25 years and had never experienced episodes of violence." In contrast, relations with the Muslim community "have always been good."

 

 

 

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