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» 05/27/2014
PAKISTAN - ISLAM
Faisalabad: Muslim activist saves a Christian from blasphemy charges
by Shafique Khokhar
A Christian street sweeper was targeted by a mob charged with having burned pages with Koranic writing on them. In reality the pages were ripped up by two students . The mob ready to lynch the man . Intervention of a 26-year old Muslim, belonging to a network pro human rights, decisive. Christian activist: a "success" story, saving the life of an "innocent youth".

Faisalabad ( AsiaNews) - A "success" story with a happy ending thanks to the intervention of " a Muslim activist, who saved the life of an innocent young Christian" who "is not even able to read". This is what Suneel Malik, Director of Peace and Human Development Foundation ( Phd ) tells AsiaNews, commenting on the latest case of false blasphemy charges that occurred in recent days in Faisalabad in Punjab. He hopes it will help an increase in the "level of tolerance towards religious minorities", for the construction of a true peace in Pakistan and to put an end "to false accusations that besmirch the name of the country" and affect " social harmony ."

The episode date back to 22 May: Mansha Masih, is a Christian, who has worked for 15 years as a scavenger in the town of Hajweri, Faisalabad. He was picking up litter and leaves from abandoned houses in the area, when a young Muslim named Billu, from the roof of his home, accused him of desecrating pages of the Muslim holy book, the Koran. After having railed against the Christian, he began to brutally beat him.

However, the intervention of the 26-year old Muslim activist Farhan Sadiq , a journalist and member of the Human Rights Defenders Network, was decisive in saving the Christian. He ripped Masih from the hands of his tormentor and took him home. He then launched an independent investigation to verify the facts, after which it was found that the pages containing sacred verses were "desecrated" by two underage students in the area, who did not want to go to the local mosque and so they burned the books.

However, rumors of a possible case of blasphemy perpetrated by a Christian had already circulated in the town and a crowd was ready to punish the man, though innocent, with death. Even after the confession of two young men, the crowd did not want to believe the innocence of Mansha Masih, who has repeatedly stated he is "illiterate" and " had done nothing wrong," not knowing the content of the verses printed on sheets . The Muslim activist's decision in dealing with crowd and proving the charges to be false, in the end, saved the Christian's life, thus he fulfilled his task "with a great sense of responsibility."

With a population of more than 180 million people (97 per cent Muslim), Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, the second largest Muslim nation after Indonesia. About 80 per cent of Muslims are Sunni, whilst Shias are 20 per cent. Hindus are 1.85 per cent, followed by Christians (1.6 per cent) and Sikhs (0.04 per cent). Violence against ethnic and religious minorities is commonplace across the country, with Shia Muslims and Christians as the main target, with things getting worse. Dozens of episodes , including targeted attacks against entire communities - such as in Gojra in 2009 or Joseph Colony Lahore last year - or places of worship  (Peshawar in September last year) or abuses against individuals ( Sawan Masih and Asia Bibi, Rimsha Masih or the young Robert Fanish Masih, who also died in his cell), are often perpetrated under the pretext of the blasphemy laws.

 


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See also
05/10/2007 PAKISTAN
84-year-old Christian accused of blasphemy to force him to sell land
by Qaiser Felix
05/31/2007 PAKISTAN
Another Christian condemned to death for blasphemy, without any proof
02/11/2011 PAKISTAN
Pakistani Priest warns Christians are at risk. A young man tortured and killed
by Jibran Khan
07/20/2010 PAKISTAN
Faisalabad, murdered brothers buried. Justice and Peace: abolish the blasphemy law now
by Fareed Khan
12/22/2012 PAKISTAN
Pakistan, not just Asia Bibi: Muslim lynched and burned alive for blasphemy

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by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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