Christian cleaner of Koran publisher jailed for blasphemy
Rehmat Masih has been in prison for five months and his family threatened. He had refused to convert to Islam. They blame him for some pages of the sacred text of Muslims found in the sewer drain, but there is no evidence against him.
Karachi (AsiaNews) - In Pakistan, an adult Christian, Rehmat Masih, has been in prison for five months in a new fabricated blasphemy case. He is accused of profaning and desecrating the pages of the Koran, but in reality he allegedly simply refused an offer to change religion. The police also threatened the family, warning them not to prosecute the case. As a result, he had to move to a safer location.
Rehmat (44), the father of two teenage children, had worked for 20 years as a cleaner at the Zam Zam publishing house, which was responsible for printing and binding the Muslim holy text. The owners and employees had offered him to convert to Islam, but he had repeatedly refused to change religion.
On 28 December, Rehmat went to Zam Zam Publishers for his usual work. Here, he was asked about the defacement of some pages of the Koran found in the sewage drain. Rehmat replied that he was unaware of the missing holy pages from the publishing house.
On 3 January 2022, the police arrested Rehmat Masih accusing him of committing blasphemy and tortured him severely to make him admit to desecrating and desecrating the Koran, an offence under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code, punishable by life imprisonment.
On 19 January 2022, a bail application was filed for the defendant, but the judge rejected it. In a hearing held on 31 May 2022, Rehmat Masih had his statement placed on record before the honorary judge, in which he stated that he 'does not plead guilty to the charge of blasphemy brought against him'.
The president of Voice for Justice, Joseph Jansen, said that the blasphemy laws have created an environment in which people, including complainants and their influential supporters, feel entitled to take justice into their own hands. He called for police officers to carry out their duties impartially and for their conduct not to be influenced by religious beliefs.
Ilyas Samuel, a social activist, said that the police investigation was particularly deficient in this blasphemy case. But it is even more disturbing that police officers support illegal practices to turn the fake crime into reality and present false witnesses with conflicting statements before the court of honour to prove a crime that was never committed by the accused.
Malook Samuel described it as unthinkable that - with no eyewitnesses to the alleged event and no evidence - the accused is behind bars, while the complainants and witnesses involved in making false allegations against the accused enjoy impunity, and are not instead prosecuted for charges of perjury under Section 182 of the Penal Code, which provides for sentences of five to seven years.
Pastor Tariq George added that it is regrettable that innocent people are being targeted to settle personal scores, and that this story was created to punish religious minorities who do not want to change their faith.