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    » 11/02/2013, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Punjab, Christians hunted for blasphemy: fireworks wrapped in Koran pages

    Jibran Khan

    The two Christians and their families have fled for fear of being killed. The two fireworks vendors say they are innocent: they bought them from a factory owned by Muslims.

    Islamabad ( AsiaNews) - Two Pakistani Christians and their families are fleeing for their lives after being accused of blasphemy against the Koran. The two proclaim their innocence and fear for their lives.

    Arif Masih and Tariq Masih are owners of a store where they sell fireworks in Thatta Faqirullah (Wazirabad , Punjab ) . On October 27 they sold Muhammad Zahid a set of fireworks for his wedding party. Since some of them failed to go off, some of the wedding guests opened them to see why they did not work and found that the powders were wrapped in pages containing verses of the Koran. The discovery shocked the newlyweds and their guests who immediately destroyed the store of both Christians and denounced the two to the police.

    Tariq Masih tells AsiaNews : "We do not manufacture fireworks, we buy them from a factory near Gujranwala and we do not know what materials they use. Moreover, these factories are owned by Muslims and no Christian works inside there."

    Tariq adds : "We have not even touched the pages of the Koran. The idea of using these pages for fireworks is beyond all imagination because we are well aware of the consequences."

    The people of Thatta Faqirullah did not believe the two Christians and called on the police to arrest them and an exemplary punishment for those who insult Islam. Several have threatened that if the police do not act, they will hunt and kill them to the two blasphemers themselves.

    Arif Masih and Tariq Masih, along with their families, fled from the area, fearing for their lives.

    Fr. George James, of the Diocese of Sialkot, comments: "This is a sad incident that the marginalized  are being victimized, a poor vendor is being targeted for something he has not done, the violent and aggressive mobs are hunting them down to kill them. For how long will the minorities have to face the abuse of the law? The concerned authorities should act responsibly and ensure that the law and order situation remains in control and no innocent has to suffer".

    In Pakistan, the blasphemy law is often used against Christian minorities , Sikhs, Ahmadis, but also against Muslims in order to pursue personal vendettas . Last month a Christian was beheaded in Karachi, accused of blasphemy, for reasons related to professional rivalry .

     

     

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    See also

    09/07/2004 pakistan
    New proposal to change the blasphemy laws


    16/02/2009 PAKISTAN
    Marginalization, threats, and misery for families charged with blasphemy
    Arrests, fines, humiliations, lack of security, and possible attacks are typical for families whose members have been accused of blasphemy against the Qur'an. The case of James Masih and Boota Masih, sentenced to 10 years without any proof.

    19/12/2008 PAKISTAN
    Islamic threats in church: bible burned, appeal to conversion
    The sacrilege took place two days ago, in a small village of the diocese of Faisalabad. Many families of Muslims, who are in the majority, are supporting the Christians. The priest asks the faithful to remain "calm and peaceful," in imitation of Jesus.

    31/05/2007 PAKISTAN
    Another Christian condemned to death for blasphemy, without any proof
    A Pakistani district court has condemned to Younis Masih, accused of having offended Muhammad and the Koran. His defence lawyer denounces the lack of any proof and police negligence and prepares an appeal.

    27/10/2009 PAKISTAN
    Pakistan, Christians and Muslim leaders: repeal blasphemy law
    A popular current emerges in the nation calling for the cancellation of the law, responsible for the abuse and violence against religious minorities. It is unconstitutional and contrary to the principles of Islam. The solidarity of Muslims and the importance of a new educational model for young people.



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