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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