ASIA/PAKISTAN - New arrests and violence against Christians for alleged blasphemyLahore (Agenzia Fides) – The arrests of Christians falsely accused of blasphemy continues. According to new cases one of the victims is the young Christian Naveed John, 24, accused and arrested in Sargodha, Punjab.
According to a widespread practice among Christian Pentecostal and charismatic groups, the young man was praying in private for another person, asking God to free the person from physical and spiritual illness. Often followers of different religions, including Muslims went to his house and asked him to pray for them. One of them, a police officer in disguise denounced Naveed saying he had insulted the Koran. As reported to Fides by the NGO LEAD, also the victim's family is now under threat.
In another case, a Pakistani Christian and his family were forced to leave their home to escape the wrath of a crowd of Muslims who accused them of blasphemy. The case occurred in Wazirabad, Punjab, where Aftab Gill, 40 went to draw clean water from the fountain belonging to a mosque, like many others in the community. A Muslim said: "Christians are not allowed to use that water, otherwise you infidels contaminate it. If you want, you have to convert to Islam". Gill and his children refused. In less than no time about 200 men gathered to attack Gill and his family, accusing them of blasphemy. The police had to intervene to save the family from being lynched.
"The blasphemy law in Pakistan is promoting a climate of intolerance, generating a wide range of violations of human rights including the rights to freedom of expression and religion", says to Fides Christian lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill, head of LEAD. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 15/10/2015)
Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - In 2014, 1,400 cases of blasphemy were registered in Pakistan: it is a peak, compared with the trend of recent years, which reveals a very worrying situation. This was reported by senior lawyer Syed Mumtaz Shah, speaking at a seminar on "Human Rights, Religious freedom, Social Inclusion & Political Participation of Minority", organized in Karachi in recent days by the "Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research" (PILER). As Fides learns, the seminar was attended by leaders and representatives of civil society, of different religions. According to data released, about 800 cases have been registered against Muslims, "who should take to the streets against the abuse of this law" said those present.
According to lawyer Nisar Shar, spokesman for the association of lawyers in Karachi, "even for lawyers it has become dangerous to do their job and defend a defendant accused of blasphemy", recalling the case of lawyer Rashid Rehman, who was killed because he had taken the defense of a case.
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), an NGO widespread in Pakistan, in 2014 the Pakistani courts sentenced three people to death, six to life imprisonment, and three people to two years' imprisonment for blasphemy. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 15/10/2015)