29 July, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

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





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


» 10/29/2013
PAKISTAN
Karachi: Christian family faced with blasphemy and forced conversion threats
by Jibran Khan
In September, the head of the family, Boota Masih, a 58-yeaer-old goldsmith, was killed, falsely accused of blasphemy. In fact, a business rival was behind the murder, and he is still free and unpunished. Meanwhile, armed men have threatened the victim's family, telling them to convert to Islam or face death. Police however have arrested these men.

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.

Everything began 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.

Instead of 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 situation.

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 Muhammad.

However, no 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.

According 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.

Since the 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.

Another case 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.


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
04/05/2007 PAKISTAN
Life of 11-year-old Christian in danger even though he is not charged with anything
by Qaiser Felix
12/03/2012 PAKISTAN
Punjab: 22-year-old mentally disturbed Christian man dies in prison
by Jibran Khan
09/28/2006 PAKISTAN
Christian jailed on blasphemy charges receives support from his family
by Qaiser Felix
05/29/2006 PAKISTAN
Without evidence police arrest Christian on blasphemy charges
by Qaiser Felix
03/05/2011 PAKISTAN
‘Black law’ strikes again as man acquitted on blasphemy charges is killed

Editor's choices
VATICAN
"Stop! I am asking you with all my heart. Stop!" says pope as he speaks out on the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine He mentions children, victims of war, "from whom we take away the hope for a decent life," urging the parties to address "every diatribe with the tenacity of dialogue and negotiation and the power of reconciliation". As tomorrow marks 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War, "a day of mourning," we should learn the lessons of history. The Gospel makes us know the true Jesus, the living Jesus, who speaks to the heart and is a life changer as he was for Saint Francis of Assisi. "The joy of finding the treasure of the Kingdom of God comes through, can be seen. Christians cannot hide their faith."
IRAQ - VATICAN
Saddened by "the timidity of the civilised world," Baghdad patriarch's heart bleeding "for the innocent in Iraq, Syria and Gaza" "Forget us not!" says Mar Louis Sako in a message to Card Barbarin on the occasion of the march of solidarity with Iraqi Christians, held today in Lyon.
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".

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.