31 January, 2015 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 07/23/2013
PAKISTAN
Punjab: Catholic couple accused of blasphemy
by Jibran Kahn
Shafqat and Shagufta Masih live in Gojra, a town in Punjab where eight Christians were burnt alive in 2009. Instead of investigating the affair, police forced the two to accept the charges. A local priest warns that "false allegations like this lead to years in prison for the innocent. Concrete steps must be taken once and for all to stop the misuse of the blasphemy law."

Gojra (AsiaNews) - The authorities in the town of Gojra (Punjab province) charged a local Catholic couple of blasphemy after a local Muslim man complained that the two sent him blasphemous text messages, insulting the Prophet Muhammad. Under Pakistani law, the two could be sentenced to death if found guilty.

Rana Muhammad Ijaz filed a complaint against Shafqat Masih, a disabled person who works as a caretaker at a local school, and his wife Shagufta, a waitress.

Police officers went to the couple's home and brought them to a police station. Both of the accused deny any wrongdoing. Shafqat complained that police put enormous pressure on them to accept the accusations against them.

Gojra is infamous for the atrocities committed in the name of the blasphemy law. On 31 August 2009, an angry mob attacked the town's Christian colony and set fire to Christian homes. Eight Christians were burnt alive whilst 40 houses and a church were destroyed in the fire.

For years, the Catholic and Protestant Churches in Pakistan have been calling for the repeal of the sectarian law, which has increasingly been used as tool of personal revenge.

According to data collected by the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of Pakistan, from 1986 to August 2009, at least 964 people have been charged under the law: 479 Muslims, 119 Christians, 340 Ahmadis, 14 Hindus and 10 of unknown religion. At least 33 extra-judicial killings were carried out by individuals or mobs.

"This is not the first time that things like this happen," a local priest, Fr John Samuel, told AsiaNews.

"We are close to the fourth anniversary of Gojra massacre," he said. "Minorities in Pakistan have been victimised in many ways. False allegations like this one lead to years in prison for the innocent. Concrete steps must be taken once and for all to stop the misuse of the blasphemy law. We strongly condemn what happened, and ask for an independent inquiry into the matter."

 


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
11/05/2014 PAKISTAN - ISLAM
Bishop of Islamabad: Couple burned alive, barbaric act shrouded by a guilty silence
by Jibran Khan - Shafique Khokhar
03/28/2014 PAKISTAN
Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy, Islamabad bishop calls for prayers for the persecuted
by Jibran Khan
11/10/2014 PAKISTAN - INDIA
The government of Pakistan is responsible for Christian couple's burning
by Shafique Khokhar
05/02/2009 PAKISTAN
Christian families flee Punjab in wake of presumed blasphemy case
by Qaiser Felix
02/09/2006 PAKISTAN
Blasphemy law is a tool for Muslim proselytism, says Protestant bishop
by Qaiser Felix

Editor's choices
IRAQ
The children of Mosul and the future: the "five-star" refugee camp
by Bernardo CervelleraIn the garden of the parish of Mar Elia beside the tents there are containers that serve as classrooms for the children and as a library. Another serves as a room for sewing. A children's choir. Fr. Douglas: "Taking care of refugees does not just mean thinking about eating, drinking, medicines, injections, vaccinations ... The displaced persons need to do something and to cultivate hope."
IRAQ
Way of the Cross: the refugees from Mosul beyond the emergency
by Bernardo CervelleraThere are at least half a million people who have taken refuge in Kurdistan to flee from ISIS. In the Shlama Mall at Erbil: 350 people living in the skeleton of a building under construction, with draped sheets and blankets serving as walls. The ordination of a young man, also a refugee, shows that with the flight, there is something that has not been destroyed: the faith, the traditions, the priesthood.
IRAQ - VATICAN
As 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' continues, Mosul bishop notes that Jesus is born amid refugee containers
by Amel NonaPersecuted by the Islamic state, refugees have lost everything: belongings, home, jobs, school, and their future. Yet, their faith and mission remain strong. For them, almost 900,000 euros have been raised and sent. Pope Francis sends a message of closeness. The campaign continues according to the Patriarch of Baghdad's proposal of fasting and moderation at Christmas and New Year, with the money saved offered to the Christians of Mosul.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.