04/13/2024, 17.08
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Police and ulema restore calm after Christian accuses another of blasphemy

by Shafique Khokhar

In the village of Gujranwala, a family row became the pretext for a video accusing a pastor of burning the Qur'an. The authorities and the local community acted quickly to quell religious tensions. Fr Rashid Asi hopes this case will set a “precedent for the entire nation to properly investigate any allegations brought against anyone.”

Gujranwala (AsiaNews) – In Pakistan a sad case of personal vendetta, this time between Christians, came close to sparking fresh sectarian clashes after a false accusation of blasphemy was made. But at least this time, the wise behaviour of the police and the ulama protected the peace.

The story began on 12 April when a Christian man, Paras Saleem, a resident of Chaileki, a village in Sialkot district, accused his father-in-law, Rev Asif Masih, of burning a copy of the Qur'an. To this end, he created a fake TikTok account and posted a 15-second video in which he is heard making the blasphemy charge.

In fact, like most other such accusations, the story was invented, part of a personal vendetta. Paras quarrelled with his wife, and she left him and went back to her father's house.

For this reason, the jilted husband and a friend decided to implicate Rev Asif Masih in a fake blasphemy case and posted the short video on TikTok that went viral.

After some time, Paras deleted the video and fake account. But by then the video had already ignited tensions in Gujranwala, where Muslims were angered and Christians frightened.

Fortunately, when Rev Asif Masih filed a complaint, the police acted immediately, arresting his son-in-law, and seizing his mobile phone; eventually, the latter admitted that he had made up the whole story, and had posted the short video as an act of revenge against his in-laws.

The police also called in the Ulema Peace Committee, which, in turn, released a video message stating that the blasphemous video was false propaganda, explaining that Gujranwala is a city of peaceful people, where residents of all religions have been living in peace for decades.

The Committee added that the man responsible for this act had been arrested and that they would do their best to have him punished according to the law for his misdeed, so that in the future no one will dare implicate others in false blasphemy cases.

“I feel immense pain that a Christian tried to use blasphemy laws out of a personal grudge,” said Fr Khalid Rashid Asi, director of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace of the Diocese of Faisalabad, speaking to AsiaNews.

“We have seen irreparable losses and paid heavy prices for false blasphemy cases. But I am delighted, however, by the immediate action and positive role of the police and the Ulema Committee in this incident,” Fr Khalid explained.

The police and the Committee “have saved many lives and property in Gujranwala, and have set a precedent for the entire nation to properly investigate any allegations brought against anyone.”

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