11 December 2017
AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook
Geographic areas

  • > Africa
  • > Central Asia
  • > Europe
  • > Middle East
  • > Nord America
  • > North Asia
  • > South Asia
  • > South East Asia
  • > South West Asia
  • > Sud America
  • > East Asia

  • » 01/08/2016, 00.00


    Young Muslim man who burnt copies of the Bible and sacred hymns arrested in Kasur

    Shafique Khokhar

    ​Akba Azhar, 26, originally from Sialkot, broke into a church and burnt sacred books. Discovered, he tried to flee but was captured by a group of worshippers. Police say that he cannot be tried because he suffers from mental problems. Local Christians disagree, insisting that he is of sound mind.

    Kasur (AsiaNews) - A young Muslim man of 26 years was arrested for setting fire to copies of the Bible and to books containing sacred hymns.

    The incident occurred on Wednesday afternoon, at the Victory Church in Kasur, a city of nearly 250,000 people about 60 km from Lahore, in Pakistan's Punjab province.

    In November 2014, the area was the scene of a brutal attack on a young Christian couple, parents of four children, who were stoned to death and then burnt alive by an angry mob, incited by an imam after allegations of blasphemy were made against the victims.

    According to police, the arsonist, Akba Azhar, suffers from mental problems and therefore cannot be held liable for his actions. Local Christians conversely believe that he is of sound mind and has the capacity to think, reason, and understand for himself.

    Two days ago, the day of Epiphany, a group of Christians went to church to pray and saw a young man next to the remains of burnt Bibles and other holy books.

    Realising that he had been discovered, Azhar Akba, originally from Sialkot, tried to flee but was surrounded by several men and brought back into the building.

    The Christian worshippers called police, who arrived at the scene and took the young man into custody. Some children recognised him because, the night before the arson, he had played with them in the courtyard adjacent to the church.

    Christians filed their complaint in accordance with the blasphemy rule against burning of sacred texts.

    Police began their investigation, but said little about the evidence, if any, they collected or possible charges until they decided to drop the case saying that the young man appears to suffer from mental problems, and thus cannot be tried (conversely, mentally disabled Christians were indicted in alleged blasphemy cases).

    Many local Christians disagree, noting that the young man was of sound mind and fully capable to thinking, reasoning, and understanding for himself when he decided to burn the sacred texts.

    Speaking to AsiaNews, Rojar Noor Alam, a Pakistani human rights activist, condemned the Bible burning, saying that the culprit should be pursued as required by law.

    Religious leaders, he added, "must play a leading role in maintaining harmony and avoiding sectarian events of this kind."

    For Aila Gill, coordinator of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Church of Pakistan (NCJP), the incident is the result of the prevailing climate of intolerance.

    "The state,” he added, “must intervene because it is its duty to protect minorities’ places of worship under Article 36 of the Constitution."

    With 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).

    Scores of violent incidents have occurred in recent years, against entire communities (Gojra in 2009, and Joseph Colony, Lahore, in March 2013), places of worship (Peshawar, September 2013) and individuals ( Sawan MasihAsia BibiRimsha Masih and Robert Fanish Masih, who died in prison), often perpetrated under the pretext of the country's blasphemy laws.

    e-mail this to a friend Printable version

    See also

    02/07/2009 PAKISTAN
    Hundreds of Muslims attack about a hundred Christian homes in Punjab
    Mob sets fire to a number of houses, burns cars and destroys electrical installations. The incident is caused by a quarrel between a Muslim and a Christian which degenerated into a riot with petrol bombs, beatings and acid throwing.

    14/08/2015 PAKISTAN
    Justice and Peace Commission on child abuse in Pakistan
    Pakistani police arrested 25 people in connection with videos showing the abuse of 284 children, aged 6 to 14, whose parents were then subject to blackmail. For Kashif Aslam, the country needs a code of conduct or laws to protect children. Justice and Peace Commission presents a number of demands to avoid future sexual abuses.

    06/06/2005 PAKISTAN
    Bible Study group celebrates its first year
    A Kasur diocese Bible Study group celebrates its first anniversary in the predominantly Muslim Pakistan. "Members' commitment nowadays is a great thing," says well-known Bible teacher Father Asi.

    07/05/2007 PAKISTAN
    Martha Bibi, Christian baselessly accused of blasphemy, is released
    Fazal-e-Miran, judge of the Lahore High Court, ordered that the woman be released on bail. Physically weakened, she has not stopped thanking God for the triumph of justice. Activists have called once again for the abolition of the blasphemy law.

    29/11/2006 PAKISTAN
    Naseem Bibi, a Christian woman accused of blasphemy, free after nine months
    The 30-year-old woman, who is mentally disabled, was arrested after person or persons unknown reported her for allegedly desecrating an Islamic image. She is the second person charged with blasphemy to be released in a month.

    Editor's choices

    A possible reconciliation between Moscow and Kiev

    Vladimir Rozanskij

    The Extraordinary Synod for the 100th anniversary of the restoration of the Moscow Patriarchate, called for a return to communion with the Kiev Patriarchate. Filaret's response, very positive, asks for forgiveness and offers forgiveness. For years there have been prevarications, expressions of hatred, seizures of churches. The invasion of Crimea has sharpened the division. The Ukrainian government rallies against.

    Not just Rohingya: Pope Francis’ message to Myanmar and Bangladesh

    Bernardo Cervellera

    News coverage overly focused on "saying / not saying" the word Rohingya. The Pope avoids trial by media, opting to outline constructive paths of hope. Full citizenship for dozens of ethnic groups and a development based on human dignity. The unity between the young and the different ethnic groups, admired by Buddhists and Muslims.


    AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.


    News feed

    Canale RSScanale RSS 

    Add to Google


    IRAN 2016 Banner

    2003 © All rights reserved - AsiaNews C.F. e P.Iva: 00889190153 - GLACOM®