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    » 05/29/2012, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Punjab: Protestant pastor who cites Qur'an in sermon is accused of blasphemy

    Jibran Khan

    Local Christians save Rev Irfan Gill after his life was threatened. He could still face the law under the 'black law'. Village imam wants him to retract and apologise in public. Many Protestant ministers are reckless, says Catholic priest; they "put the lives of innocent people in danger."

    Lahore (AsiaNews) - A Protestant clergyman cited passages from the Qur'an as he delivered his sermon during a recent service in a Punjab village. This angered the local Muslim leader who wants the pastor to stand trial for blasphemy. Local Christians now fear that they too might experience the wrath of the Muslim community.

    In the village in Data Zedka (Punjab), tensions are still high. Rev Irfan Gill, a Protestant clergyman from Lahore, has received death threats and a complaint by the head of the local mosque, Maulana Hafeez Tariq, has been filed against him. The latter even tried to attack him with the assistance of a group of local Muslims. 

    The local Christian community had invited Rev Gill to a prayer meeting. During his sermon, the clergyman quoted passages from the Qur'an to explain the errors and misunderstandings that underline today's interreligious violence. Outraged by such references, the imam called on the pastor to retract his statement and make a public apology.

    Local Christians were able to get the reverend away, saving him from a dangerous situation. However, a blasphemy accusation still hangs over his head. Attempts by Christian elders and human rights activists to mediate failed. Maulana Hafeez Tariq wants a public apology.

    For Fr Munir John, a Catholic priest from the Diocese of Sialkot, the pastor is partly to blame. Many Protestant preachers are carried away when they speak and anger people.

    For Fr Munir, Rev Gill "should come back and apologise" rather "than put the lives of innocent people in danger."

    "It is not the first time that a Protestant clergyman endangers the innocent," he explained. "Their small denominations and street churches can become easy targets."

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    See also

    17/06/2006 PAKISTAN
    Two Muslims accused of blasphemy murdered in two days
    The first victim is an imam accused of burning some pages of the Qur'an. The other is a man accused of uttering blasphemous words during an altercation with a lorry driver and was murdered near a courthouse.

    11/11/2005 PAKISTAN
    All Pakistan Minorities Alliance ready to adopt 500 quake orphans
    The group has set up a tent-school where children can play and "come out of their mental shock". It asks people to pray for the victims, "but also for us". Reconstruction will be long.

    18/06/2013 PAKISTAN
    Punjab: young Christian dies under torture in police custody with 22 broken bones
    Irfan Masih was arrested on 8 June suspected of a murder he did not commit. For days, he was subjected to abuse in order to extort a confession. He died on Sunday from the serious injuries he suffered. "So what if he died? So many die anyway every day," a police officer said. Human rights activists call for justice, whilst the victim's family is in hiding for fear of reprisals.

    28/04/2009 PAKISTAN
    Boy wounded in Taliban attack near Karachi dies
    Irfan Masih, 11, succumbed to gunshot wounds he suffered to the head. Five other people were also injured in the attack during which Islamists set fire on Christian homes and Bibles. Activists complain about police inaction.

    06/11/2007 PAKISTAN
    Judge Chaudhry calls for a popular “uprising”
    Sacked Chief justice calls on Pakistanis to take to the streets in protest. Despite the crackdown demonstrations against the state of emergency continue. About one lawyer in four has been placed under arrest. Government makes vague pledges about the upcoming scheduled parliamentary elections. United states calls on Musharraf to quit as army chief. Minorities warn that by his actions the president is weakening the moderates and strengthening the extremists.



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