Karachi ( AsiaNews)
- A Pakistani court has indicted three people for proffering death threats
against the family of Boota Masih, 58, a Christian man killed in mid-September in
an incident involving accusations of blasphemy. Siding with the dead man's family,
activists with Life for All and the Masihi Foundation, along with Church and
civil society leaders, have called on the authorities to arrest the murderer and
do something to stop the persecution of the Masihs' who are only guilty of
being Christian. Unfortunately, they are up against the usual reticence (if not
the connivance) of police and prosecutors in such cases.
for the Masih family on 16 September when Muhammad Asif killed their main
breadwinner after accusing him of blasphemy. The Muslim businessman attacked his
victim at the Liaqatabad Gold Market in Karachi in broad daylight. Using a
knife, he cut his throat, finishing him off with a dozen stabs, all this in the plain view of other workers and some police officers, who did not intervene and left
the murderer all the time he needed to escape unmolested.
The next day, a
member of the Liaqatabad Jewellers Association belatedly came to the dead man's
defence, saying that he "had never seen or heard him speaking against anyone,
ever." The victim had worked at the market for 30 years.
For his family,
the accusation of blasphemy was but an excuse to kill him, a way to remove a
business rival. When they reported the murder, police initially refused to
start an investigation.
The story took a
turn for the worse when, on 24 October, a group of armed men broke into the Masih
home, threatening to kill its members if they did not withdraw their complaint
and convert to Islam.
complying with the threats, the Masihs went to police the next day to file
another complaint. Last Sunday, law enforcement authorities took into custody Muhammad
Nadeem and two accomplices, for carrying out the punitive raid against the
bereaved family. Yesterday, their case went before a judge. Still, the murderer
Muhammad Asif is still a fugitive.
Fr Arshad Gill,
a priest in Karachi, spoke to AsiaNews
about this "sad story" in which the victim is "an innocent man"
and his family is told to convert to Islam or die. For him, the case epitomises
the situation of Pakistan's minorities, forced to live "in conditions of
profound insecurity" in which events such as this one tend to exacerbate the
This is all due
to the "black law". For years, Pakistan's Catholic and Protestant Churches
have called for its repeal because, among other things, it is increasingly used
in personal vendettas.
Found in Article
295, B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code, the "law" punishes with death or life in
prison anyone who desecrates the Qur'an or defames the name of the Prophet
political party or government has had the courage to change it. Those who have proposed
amendments - Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, a Muslim, and Minorities Minister Shahbaz
Bhatti, a Catholic - have been murdered.
to data collected by the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of Pakistan
(NCJP), at least 964 people have been charged under the law from 1986 to August
2009. They include 479 Muslims, 119 Christians, 340 Ahmadis, 14 Hindus and 10
of unknown religion.
law was adopted, more than 40 extra-judicial killings have been carried out in individual
attacks or by mobs, against innocent people, all in its name.
Last year for
example, a person suffering from mental disorders was burnt to death on false
charges, with his killers going scot-free.
involves Rimsha Masih, a Christian teenager who was saved from false charges
after an international campaign led to her release from prison.
Even entire groups
have not been spared. In fact, one community was attacked in Lahore in March
2013 with another suffering the same fate in Gojra in the summer of 2009.