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    » 11/11/2013, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Lahore: life of Christian pastor accused of blasphemy in danger

    Jibran Khan

    An outlawed extremist organisation, Jamat-ul-Dawa, issues a fatwa against Adnan Masih. As a result of a misunderstanding, the Christian man has been accused of insulting Muhammad and Islam. As police investigates, the clergyman and his family are under their protection. A local priest notes that this is "the third case of persecution against Christians based on the blasphemy law in just two months."

    Lahore (AsiaNews) - Adnan Masih, a Christian clergyman in Lahore, has been accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad. After charges were laid against him, an Islamic extremist group began making death threats. The prosecutor in charge of the case ordered police to launch a thorough investigation, as well as protect the accused and his family until the matter is cleared up. A radical organisation, Jamat-ul-Dawa, said however that it could kill the man "even if he is in custody."

    The story began on 7 October with a misunderstanding. Adnan Masih was replacing his brother at an eyeglass store, the Diamond Glass, where the latter worked. Whilst there, the Christian clergyman saw a book on a shelf by a Muslim leader who heads an outlawed extremist organisation, the Jamat-ul-Dawa. He noted errors in the book about the Bible and penned corrections in it. He then left the store.

    The next day Abid Mehmood, a colleague of his brother, filed a complaint against Masih at a police station, accusing him of blasphemy (under Article 295, sections A, B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code). When he heard about the complaint against him, the Christian man denied the accusations.

    However, he became the subject of death threats from Jamat-ul-Dawa and eventually a fatwa. Fearing for himself and his loved ones, on 8 November, he turned himself in to local police, asking for protection.

    "We're scared," family members said. "Adnan has not written anything against Islam. He only corrected some things about Jesus Christ."

    "This is the third case of persecution against Christians based on the blasphemy law in just two months," Fr Arshed John, from the Diocese of Lahore, told AsiaNews. "I hope the police is able to protect him. I call on everyone, without distinction of religion, to pray for this man and his family. "

     

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    See also

    20/08/2012 PAKISTAN
    Paul Bhatti against NGOs and activists who "speculate" on blasphemous disabled girl affair
    The prime minister's special adviser on national harmony is working closely with Muslim leaders to keep a lid on the situation and save Rimsha Masih from prison. He expects "positive developments" but is highly critical of those who are exploiting the incident for their own "gain." Islamabad bishop slams distorted versions and "immature" attitudes.

    05/04/2007 PAKISTAN
    Life of 11-year-old Christian in danger even though he is not charged with anything
    Blasphemy accusations have been made against five Christians, the youngest a 16-year-old, after a quarrel between boys that was blamed on the 11-year-old. Local Christians are afraid that he might become the target of violence.

    12/11/2008 PAKISTAN
    Christian doctor accused of anti-Islam blasphemy freed (but in hiding)
    In another case Pakistan’s blasphemy law is used in a personal vendetta. A Muslim employee sacked by his Christian employer turns against him with the result that the alleged offender spends five months in prison. However, during that time he received “courage and hope” from reading the Bible. Shahbaz Bhatti, minister of Minorities, is hopeful that this might lead to the release of more people unjustly accused of blasphemy.

    28/12/2011 PAKISTAN
    After blasphemy charges against him are dropped, Christian prays for other believers in prison
    Rehmat Masih was arrested on 19 June 2010. He had come to the defence of Christians in a quarrel with a Muslim over land. On 18 November 2011, a court dismissed his case for lack of evidence.

    29/05/2006 PAKISTAN
    Without evidence police arrest Christian on blasphemy charges
    A Christian from Karachi is arrested for allegedly sending blasphemous cellphone messages "as revenge for last month's attacks against churches by Muslims." Human rights activists demand that he not be remanded into police custody because too many people die in prison without trial.



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