» 05/20/2014, 00.00
Sindh, four Christians arrested for "distributing religious materials"
A man and three women were arrested while handing out Christian pamphlets near the Mirpur Khas station. Reported by a local Muslim leader, they were arrested and transferred to prison amid tight security. Serious risk of attacks by extremists. Priest in Karachi: "They were unwise, but there is a pervading lack of religious freedom."
Islamabad ( AsiaNews) - The four evangelical Christians arrested on May
18 on charges of distributing material of a religious nature in the vicinity of
the station Mirpur Khas, Sindh province appeared today in court. Those
arrested are: Younis Masih, his wife Nazia and two other women named Mary Rose
and Kiran. A Muslim religious leader , belonging to the Islamist Sunnat wal
Jammat movement, read the material and, realizing that it was Christian
literature , immediately reported the four to the police. Shortly
after their being detained, a crowd surrounded the train station with the intention
of punishing the four. In order to prevent further accidents and to maintain
control of the situation , the police ordered their immediate arrest and
escorted the group to the nearest barracks . Prosecutors
have opened an investigation file , for violations of Article 298-506 A- II
-295, which punishes those who dishonor and desecrate religion.
the barracks a group of extremists began to chant slogans and songs praising
Islam , while calling for exemplary punishment for those arrested . Now
the investigation has been passed on to the
judiciary, ahead of a probable trial; for
reasons of public order , the four Christians were transferred to the prison in
Hyderabad amid tight security. There
is currently no more information regarding the four Christians and whether they
were operating in the name of or on behalf of any religious organization . Today
the judge for preliminary investigations ordered their detention and adjourned
the trial to Friday 23 May, pending a completion of the investigation. They
are likely to be tried for inciting unrest of a religious nature.
John of the Archdiocese of Karachi, engaged in the protection of minority
rights, says "The claims that the religious
minorities are free to practice and preach their religion, is clearly evident
from this act. Although the act of distributing the religious material and
preaching in such areas is not very wise, in the past such cases have produced
unfortunate results. We pray for the group and hope they will be released soon."
a population of more than 180 million people (97 per cent Muslim), Pakistan is
the sixth most populous country in the world, the second largest Muslim nation
after Indonesia. About 80 per cent of Muslims are Sunni, whilst Shias are 20
per cent. Hindus are 1.85 per cent, followed by Christians (1.6 per cent) and
Sikhs (0.04 per cent). Violence against ethnic and religious minorities is
commonplace across the country, with Shia Muslims and Christians as the main
target, with things getting worse. Dozens of episodes , including targeted
attacks against entire communities - such as in Gojra
in 2009 or Joseph
Colony Lahore last year - or places of worship (Peshawar
in September last year) or abuses against individuals ( Sawan
Masih and Asia
the young Robert Fanish Masih, who also died in his cell), are often perpetrated under the pretext of
the blasphemy laws.
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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.
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Bishop of Islamabad: Couple burned alive, barbaric act shrouded by a guilty silence
Shahzad Masih, 28, and his wife, Shama, 25, had four children and the woman was pregnant. Accusation made by Shahzad’s employer; at least 400 people attacked, shot and burned the bodies of the young couple. Christian activists: yet another abuse of the blasphemy laws.
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