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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Alleged Blasphemy Case: bail for a Christian, final hearing for another case

English: Location of Lahore, in Punjab.
English: Location of Lahore, in Punjab. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ASIA/PAKISTAN - 
Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - There is good news for the Christian community in Pakistan: the Christian Pervaiz Masih, arrested in the district of Kasur on September 2 for alleged blasphemy (see Fides 03/09/2015), was granted bail. This is what the lawyers of the NGO "The Voice" told Fides recalling that "it is one of the rare cases in the history of Pakistan. It is very difficult for a person who is accused of blasphemy, especially an innocent Christian, to be granted bail a month after the arrest by a court of first instance".
Lawyer Aneeqa Maria Anthony, who worked on the case, told Fides: "Many victims of alleged blasphemy are condemned to death such as Asia Bibi and Sawan Masih. Others, as in the case of Pastor Aftab Gill (see Fides 01/10/2015) are imprisoned unjustly: we pray for their release". "With regards to Pervaiz Masih’s case – he continues - God has blessed us with this very important result: Kasur, in fact, it is one of the most conservative areas in Punjab, and it is very dangerous to contest a blasphemy case in this area". Operators of the NGO "The Voice" were stopped by the police of Kasur in the middle of the night and suffered threats and intimidation by the police. Pervaiz Masih's case will now go ahead.
Another Christian, Imran Masih, who was also accused of blasphemy, has instead been behind bars since 1 July 2009 and in 2010 was sentenced to life imprisonment for blasphemy by a court of first instance. "The accusations against him are totally false and invented. I have decided that I will fight for this case. The final hearing of the appeal process is on October 28, 2015 before the Lahore High Court" says to Fides Khalil Tahir Sindhu, a Catholic lawyer and Minister for Minorities in the government of the province of Punjab. "When I met Imran’s sister, she was crying for her brother's life", he notes. Despite the risks to his personal safety, the lawyer will be in court to prove to the judges that Imran Masih is completely innocent. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 13/10/2015)