02/16/2021, 11.41
PAKISTAN
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Lahore, two Christians accused of blasphemy risk the death penalty

by Shafique Khokhar

It is the second case of blasphemy against Christians since the beginning of 2021. According to plaintiff Haroon Ayub Masih and Salamat Mansha Masih wounded the feelings of Muslims as they preached the gospel in Model Town Park. The first was arrested, while the second managed to flee but his family lives in hiding in fear of retaliation.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Two evangelical Christians will have to answer for blasphemy charges, for having - according to the accusers - used words that are offensive towards the Prophet Mohammed citing a passage from the Bible.

The evet dates to February 13: plaintiff Haroon Ahmad claims that Haroon Ayub Masih and Salamat Mansha Masih injured the feelings of Muslims while preaching Christianity in Model Town Park, a suburb of Lahore (in Punjab).

According to some testimonies, Haroon Ahmad, a student, was sitting with Harris Khalid, Zakir Ali and Zulkarneen, a friend of theirs in Model Town Park. The two Christians, Haroon and Salamt, approached them by starting a discussion about religions and giving them a Christian book entitled "Water of Life".

During the discussion, the two allegedly used offensive words, claiming that Muhammad had strayed from the path of religion while Christ never married, thus fulfilling the prophecies.

According to Ahmad, the two Christians also accused the prophet of having married to increase his own dynasty, affirming that the book containing the truth is the Bible while the Koran is not a true book of faith.

The discussion would have turned into a heated argument, which ended with the accusation against Haroon and Salamt of having used offensive words against Muhammad and Islam.

In order not to leave a crime unpunished, Haroon Ahmad went to the Model Town Police Station and filed a complaint (FIR # 61/21) under Articles 295-A, 295-B 295-C of the Pakistani Penal Code. The first punishes those who offend the religious sensibilities of others, the second those who profane the Koran and the third those who use derogatory words towards Muhammad (the latter punishable by death).

Police immediately took action and arrested Salamat Mansha, while his friend Haroon Ayub managed to escape and his family now lives in hiding in fear of retaliation.

Christians are the third religion in Pakistan, accounting for 1.6% of the total population. Blasphemy laws have long been used to resolve disputes or personal issues and have involved hundreds of Christians, as well as Muslims and Ahmadis themselves.

 Often, in the past, the accusation of blasphemy proved to be a pretext for attacking crowds or entire communities, while last year it proved to be one of the greatest abuses in the use of the blasphemy law.

Shabbir Shafqat, president of the National Christian Party, points out that it is the second case of blasphemy against a Christian in 2021. The first concerns the nurse and gospel singer Tabita Gill, from Karachi, accused by her colleagues. “We are against the abuses linked to this law”, concludes the politician.

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