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    » 06/17/2011, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Punjab: Christian families flee false accusation of blasphemy

    Jibran Khan

    The students of a madrassa try to force a child to convert. A relative is attacked for defending him, and accused of blasphemy. A priest: "This is a common practice in the region. Many cases of forced conversions are not made known". The authorities turn a blind eye to the problem.
    Lahore (AsiaNews) - Ten Christian families were forced to flee from Chak 68, Arifwala, in Khanewal district, for fear of the consequences of an accusation of blasphemy. A Christian boy of eight years, Ihtesham, nicknamed "Sunny" went to buy ice in a market, and was surrounded and harassed by students of a madrassa, an Islamic religious school. They asked him to recite verses from the Koran, those every Muslim reads the so-called "Kalma", in short the statement that "there is no God but Allah ...." They asked him to renounce his religion and convert to Islam.

    An uncle of Sunny, Dildar Masih, seeing that his nephew was in trouble, because of the students, intervened. Sunny explained to him that they were bullying him to renounce his religion. Dildar addressed the boys, he rebuked them and told Sunny to go home. The boys told of the incident to the religious leaders at the madrasas. The latter announced that Dildar Masih had committed blasphemy, making fun of Koranic verses, and the loudspeaker of the madrasa urged all to punish the blasphemer, to set an example. A crowd gathered around Dildar where he was working and attacked him. After the incident, ten families fled from the village.

    Father Rufin John, from Khanewal, told AsiaNews: "This is a common practice in the region. Many cases of forced conversions are not disclosed. In many schools it is mandatory for all to read verses from the Koran, it is in the program, and is compulsory for students of all faiths to read them. If students of faiths other than Islam do not read them, they are subject to abuse, or are thrown out of schools. "

    Father Afzal Masih of Rahim Yar Khan told AsiaNews: "In Rahim Khan, the madrasa students annoy teenagers of different faiths every day. They do not allow them to play in their playgrounds, they do not want them to pass close to the madrasas, the radical school of thought is at its maximum in this region. They are taught that Christians and people of other religions may be killed if they do not accept Islam. And the authorities turn a blind eye to this problem. "
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    See also

    10/10/2011 PAKISTAN - ISLAM
    Pakistan “legalises” persecution through blasphemy laws
    Until 1986, only seven people charged with desecrating the Koran or reviling the name of Mohammed. Since the introduction of black law over 4 thousand cases reported, mostly in the last five years. The protest of Christians and members of civil society. The law "protects killers" and those who "incite violence on the streets."

    24/10/2009 PAKISTAN
    Pakistan, a movement to raise awareness against the blasphemy law
    The legislation provides for life imprisonment or death for those who profane the Koran or insult the prophet Muhammad. Approved in 1986, it has become an instrument of oppression against religious minorities. Christian activists and human rights groups promote meetings and conferences for its repeal, despite the threats of the fundamentalists.

    30/03/2011 PAKISTAN
    Shahbaz Batthi killed by a "mafia" of fundamentalists holding the government hostage
    The minister for minorities, Salman Taseer and other victims of the "organized movement" fighting for power. The violence has raised such fear that that any discussion about the law on blasphemy has been dropped. But Christians must cultivate the hope and with the help of the universal Church, build a better future.

    21/07/2011 PAKISTAN
    Muslim woman forced to flee for marrying a Christian
    A couple comprising a Christian and a Muslim is forced to live hiding: society condemns their love, for an Islamic scholar it "is punishable by death." The bishop of Islamabad: "The State must defend them, or it will soon disappear."

    26/11/2012 PAKISTAN
    Pakistani (and Christian) women lead the defence of minority rights
    Romana Bashir has dedicated her life to interfaith harmony and women's education in order to change the country's mindset. Today she is a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Women's presence in political institutions and civil society is "a positive sign".



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