06/01/2004, 00.00
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Many victims of an evil law

Lahore (AsiaNews) –  The blasphemy law, section 295-B and –C of the Pakistani Criminal Code, was introduced in 1986 under President, General Mohammad Aunt ul-Haq.  Section 295-B pertains to offences against the Koran, the Islamic sacred book, punishable with the prison to life, while the section 295-C establishes death or life in prison for libels against the prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam.  It has always been used and abused to kill, injure, unjustly imprison and requisition property of Christians and remains the cause of much death and violence. 

Besides Samuel Masih, there have been other victims of this iniquitous law.  Among these we remember: Tahir Iqbal, a Christian convert from Islam, poisoned to death while in prison; Niamat Ahmer, a teacher, poet and writer, killed in the '92; Bantu Masih, 80 years, stabbed and killed in front of the police in 1992; Mukhtar Masih, 50, tortured to death while was in care of the police.  In 1993, the young Christian Nazir Masih, was tortured and killed in a police station at Faisalabad. 

In 1994, 12 year old Salamat Masih, Mansur Masih, 37, and Rehmat Masih, 42, were shot by firearms: They were just leaving the Supreme Court of Lahore which had acquitted them of blasphemy charges.  Mansur was killed instantly; the other two have seriously injured.  Arif Iqbal Bhatti, one of the judges that had acquitted them, was later murdered.  Salamat fled to a foreign country. 

In July 1995 teacher Catherine Shaheen, accused of blasphemy, was deprived of her salary.  Since then, there are people living in hiding, from fear of fundamentalists threatening to kill it them.

In May '98 Mons.  John Joseph, 66 years, the Catholic bishop of Faisalabad and an important activist for human rights, killed himself in protest against the death sentence of a Christian of his diocese, Ayub Masih, accused of having offended Islam.


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Anti-blasphemy law: harassment and violence for all religions alike
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