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    » 12/06/2011, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Lahore, false accusation of blasphemy against a Christian. Fears for his life

    Jibran Khan

    A builder of 25 has been falsely accused of having ripped and burned pages of the Koran by a Muslim known for his hatred toward non-Muslims. The police registered the complaint despite the intervention of religious leaders. Fanatic groups threaten to kill him.
    Lahore (AsiaNews) - A Christian of 25 was yesterday accused of blasphemy in the district of Qazi, Shahdra, Lahore. Construction worker Khurram Masih, married for two months, was working at the residence of Abdul Majeed. After completing the installation of marble tile he collected some pieces of paper, newspapers and wooden boards to burn. Abdul Majeed once he saw the burnt leftovers started screaming that Khurram Masih had ripped and burned parts of the Koran. Other workers gathered, attacking Masih and dragging him to the police station.

    Abdul Majeed made the request to file a complaint against Khurram Masih for blasphemy. Religious leaders, along with human rights activists gathered at the police station and tried to resolve the issue, but the officers and local residents did not want to let Masih go, and continued to insist that the complaint be upheld. And this morning a FIR (First Information Report) for blasphemy under the Pakistan Penal Code was registered against Khurram Masih.

    Human rights activists, including Khalid Shahzad and Khalid Gill, were present at the police station, they asked for protection for the accused and have protested that the charge was false. Extremist groups have announced through loud speakers that a Christian had desecrated the Koran and had to be punished. The human rights activists are concerned about the safety of Khurram Masih, who is not safe in the Shahdra police station. Father Francis Xavier, of the diocese of Lahore, told AsiaNews: "It is a very sad incident, the young man was falsely accused of blasphemy. The person who made the complaint is linked to religious groups, and is known for his hatred toward non-Muslims. There have been ads in the area inciting hatred towards Christians. We fear for the life of Khurram Masih, he must be assured protection from those who want to kill him. "

    The introduction of the notorious blasphemy laws in 1986, during the dictatorship of General Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan, led to an exponential increase in complaints for "desecration of the Koran" or "defamation of the Prophet Muhammad." Between 1927 and 1986, when the "Black Law" was passed, there were only seven cases of blasphemy. Instead, the victims since 1986 have risen to over 4 thousand and the figure is increasing: in fact, from 1988 to 2005, the Pakistani authorities have indicted 647 people for crimes related to blasphemy, but in recent years, there have been thousands of cases of innocent Christians, Muslims, Ahmadis, and members of other religions who have been accused on the words of others, without the slightest hint of proof.

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    See also

    16/04/2011 PAKISTAN
    Punjab, Muslims attack a Christian village
    The attack took place this morning in Khokarki, near the city of Gujranwala. Hundreds of Christians forced to flee their homes. Attack sparked by quarrel with Christian, his son and some Muslims, over false accusation of blasphemy. The two Christians held at the local police station.

    20/07/2010 PAKISTAN
    Faisalabad, murdered brothers buried. Justice and Peace: abolish the blasphemy law now
    At 8 this morning the community bid a final farewell to Sajid and Rashid Emmanuel. Their murder has sparked violent clashes between Christians and Muslims. The police are patrolling the streets but the situation is "explosive." Catholic activist: "renewed commitment to cancellation of discriminatory laws." Christian couple threatened with death for a documentary on Gojra.

    19/09/2006 PAKISTAN
    Young Christian arrested for blasphemy

    There are no witnesses or evidence against him. The charge violates the law because it is based on the statement of someone accused of committing the crime together with the boy.



    12/02/2007 PAKISTAN
    Christian woman accused of blasphemy without evidence still in prison
    Martha Bibi, arrested on January 22, is in Kasur district prison. Police has not yet started their investigations whilst her family is still in hiding for fear of attacks by extremists.

    14/06/2011 PAKISTAN
    Pakistan, forced conversions of Hindu girls to Islam. Often unreported out of fear
    Hindus “Rights movement" launches a campaign to seek justice and to limit violence and harassment by landlords. The court in Rawalpindi exonerates three Christians of blasphemy, now there are fears of retaliation by Muslim fundamentalists.



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