Blasphemy Law is Revenge Instrument in Pakistan


John R. Houk

© July 19, 2017

 

American 1st Amendment Truth is a Death Sentence in Pakistan

 

And yet another Pakistani Christian is being accused of blaspheming the false-prophet Muhammad as a tool of revenge in a Muslim/Christian argument.

 

Christians in Pakistan are treated as subhuman class of dirt even being denied proper avenues of education. Why? Because Muslims are taught in their revered writings – Quran, Hadith and Sira/Sunnah – that Muslims are superior are to ALL non-Muslims and those non-Muslims should be denigrated for refusing to believe in Islam.

 

Needless to say, equal justice for all people is something that is extremely absent in Islamic dominated societies.

 

The lack of justice and equal rights are particularly apparent in Pakistan’s society when Christians risk voicing their opinion that Christ is the Son of God and Muhammad is a false-prophet. This will get you beaten or killed by a Muslim mob or escaping public Muslim retribution, put in jail being charged with the capital crime of blasphemy.

 

Yet burning a Church, torching a cross or destroying a Holy Bible will not be treated as a crime in Pakistan.

 

The Pakistani Christian Shahzad Masih is finding this hatred of Christians on a first-hand basis.

 

I was first made aware of Shahzad Masih’s plight in an email alert from Assist News. I discovered greater details from World Watch Monitor (WWM) on Shahzad’s persecution. Some of the details differ. For example, Assist News has Shahzad as age 17 and WWM lists him as age 16. Assist News writes from the perspective of the mother listed as Hina Shafaqat. WWM uses the father’s perspective who is listed Shafaqat implying the last name of Masih. One should realize among Pakistani Christians “Masih” is a Christian honorific.

 

I am cross posting Assist News first for getting the story to me and then the WWM article which has better details.

 

JRH 7/19/17

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ISLAMISTS IN PAKISTAN ACCUSE CHRISTIAN MINOR OF BLASPHEMING ISLAM’S PROPHET

 

By Dan Wooding

July 19, 2017 03:39

Assist News

 

Shahzad Masih – Morning Star News courtesy of family

No motive given for alleged comment.

 

LAHOREPAKISTAN (ANS — July 18, 2017) – A member of an Islamic extremist group in Pakistan has accused a Christian minor of blasphemy after the boy had an argument with a Muslim, sources said.

 

Hina Shafaqat, mother of 17-year-old Shahzad Masih, told Morning Star News (http://morningstarnews.org) that her son had been wrongly implicated in the case by a Muslim colleague with whom he had a quarrel 10 days ago, and the family has not been able to locate him since his arrest.

 

Working as a sweeper at Shamim Riaz Hospital in Dinga town, Gujrat District, Punjab Province for the past nine months, Masih had an altercation with hospital pharmacy employee Ishtiaq Ahmed Jalali, she said. A senior medical officer at the hospital intervened and calmed the quarrel, but “Jalali nurtured a grudge against my son and has now plotted this case against him to settle the score,” she said.

 

“I’ve raised Shahzad as a devout Roman Catholic – I’ve never taught my children to hate people belonging to other faiths, which is why I am sure that my son is being wrongly accused of blasphemy,” she said. “The police arrested my son on Friday [July 14], and since then we have been trying to locate his whereabouts.”

 

Neither the Dinga police nor the Kharian police said they have him in their custody, she said.

 

“We have searched so many police stations but have failed to trace him,” she said, adding that police were torturing the family mentally by not disclosing her son’s location or revealing his well-being.

 

According to the Pakistan correspondent for Morning Star News, Masih, the oldest of five children, is the family breadwinner along with his father, a daily wage mason. Shahzad Masih went to school until grade four, after which his family could not afford to further education.

 

“We, and the family of my brother-in-law Rafaqat, had to relocate to a relative’s house on Friday [July 14] to avoid any backlash from the local Muslims, who are being instigated by an Islamist outfit,” she said.

 

More than 30 other Christian families also live in Mohalla Railway Station of Dinga town.

 

Dinga Police Station House Officer (SHO) Inspector Shahbaz Ahmad dodged questions about facts of the case, telling Morning Star News only, “The accused has committed blasphemy.”

 

Morning Star News stated that the police official did note that a First Information Report (FIR No. 273/17) was registered against Masih under Section 295-C, which calls for death or life imprisonment to those found guilty of blaspheming against Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

 

According to the FIR, complainant Nadeem Ahmed – president of the Dinga chapter of Islamist outfit Tehreek Tahafuz-e-Islam Pakistan – alleged that he was sitting in his electronic appliances shop when Ishtiaq Ahmed Jalali came and informed him that Masih had uttered derogatory remarks against Muhammad. Jalali is also a member of Tehreek Tahafuz-e-Islam Pakistan.

 

“Upon hearing this, we sent a boy to Shahzad Masih’s home and asked him to come to the Popular Mobile Shop for clearing the issue,” Ahmed alleged in the FIR. “When Masih came there, we asked him about the accusation, to which he again started abusing and cursing the Holy Prophet. Some people who had gathered at the shop by then also witnessed the blasphemy done by Masih.”

 

Ahmed alleged that the Christian boy “managed to escape from the shop.”

 

Inspector Ahmad declined to comment on why he thought Masih had committed blasphemy or if he had admitted to it.

 

“You know very well I cannot repeat the blasphemous words,” he said, avoiding questions as to what could have motivated the Christian to do such a thing. He also did not offer any plausible explanation as to how Masih was able to flee from the scene in the presence of a large number of upset Muslims.

 

“Talk to the SP, because we just registered the case and forwarded it to him for further action,” he said before putting down the phone.

 

Repeated attempts to reach Superintendent of Police (SP) Maaz Zafar failed as his telephone operator said that the senior official was busy and would return the call later. At this writing, however, Zafar had not contacted Morning Star News.

 

Attorneys Riaz Anjum and Kashif Naimat from the Pakistan Center for Law and Justice (PCLJ) told Morning Star News from Dinga that they had offered legal and financial assistance to Shahzad Masih’s family as he was one of the main providers of income for the family, and his arrest had badly degraded their finances.

 

“The case is clearly fabricated, because the FIR does not state any motive for Shahzad Masih’s alleged blasphemy,” Anjum said. “It’s very unfortunate that Pakistani police book people in blasphemy cases before even trying to ascertain the facts. Now the boy will be made to suffer in prison like so many other innocent people who have fallen victim to the harsh blasphemy laws.”

 

He said that their investigation had corroborated the account of the Christian family.

 

“It is true that Masih had a fight with a pharmacy worker over a week ago, and the matter was resolved by a doctor,” Anjum said. “Local sources told us that Jalali bore a grudge against Masih, and he had connived with the complainant, Nadeem Ahmad, to settle his personal score with the Christian boy.”

 

+++

Pakistani Christian boy, 16, charged with blasphemy for discussing his faith

 

By World Watch Monitor

July 19, 2017

 

Pakistani Muslims call for the hanging of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman on death row for blasphemy since 2010, at a protest in Karachi on 13 October 2016. That was the day Pakistan’s Supreme Court delayed her appeal after one of the judges stepped down.

 

A 16-year-old Pakistani Christian boy has been charged with blasphemy for talking with a colleague about his belief in Jesus, the second such incident in a month.

 

Shahzad Masih, 16, a cleaner at a hospital in the city of Dinga (near the religiously conservative city of Gujrat), was arrested on 13 July after his colleague, Ishtiaq Ahmed Jalali, accused him of insulting Islam’s prophet Muhammad, a crime punishable with death in Pakistan.

 

A month earlier, on 15 June, Ashfaq Masih, 28, was arrested in the nearby city of Lahore for saying he believed Jesus to be the final prophet.

 

The latest incident took place at the Shameem Riaz Polyclinic. Jalali, who works at the hospital pharmacy, is a member of Tehreek-e-Tahfuz-e-Islam Pakistan, an organisation that strives to protect the name and honour of Muhammad. It belongs to the Barelvi school [Blog Editor: Barelvi extremist Islamism has developed according Left-Wing news site HuffPo] of Islamic thought, which is considered “moderate” and has even faced criticism from other Muslims for its “polytheism” of worshipping at shrines. Barelvis are known for the special respect they afford to Muhammad – more so than any other Islamic school of thought – and are chief supporters of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

 

Shahzad Masih’s father, Shafaqat, who works as a labourer, told World Watch Monitor that the argument related to who Christians worship.

 

One of the relatives of Shahzad Masih’s colleague Ishtiaq Ahmed Jalali, a leader of Tehreek-e-Tahfuz-e-Islam Pakistan, told a local TV station a day after Masih’s arrest: “If the blasphemer is acquitted of the charge then each member of our organisation would attack him.”

 

“My son told him that we follow Jesus and then their discussion became sour, at which point a doctor intervened and calmed them down,” he said.

 

The police complaint was lodged by another man, Nadeem Ahmed, who claims to have called Shahzad Masih from his mobile phone repair shop, which is beside the hospital, to ask him about what he’d said. In his report, Ahmed states that Masih repeated his “abusive words” against Muhammad and then fled.

 

Police reports in Pakistan, called First Information Reports (FIR), are often key in court cases, though the veracity of the claims in such reports is often the subject of contention.

 

Shafaqat Masih says that two days prior to the lodging of the FIR, his son’s colleague, Ishtiaq Jalali, told his son that Christians worship at the shrines of Muslim sages.

 

“My son told him that he didn’t know about this and he would ask me about it,” Shafaqat Masih said. “Then on 13 July, I was at work when he called me at around 4pm. He had returned from hospital but they asked him to come to the mobile phone repair shop, which is in front of the hospital.

 

“I told him that it would take me some time to get there, so he should call his uncle, Rafaqat, whom I also called on the phone to go to him. I arrived at around 7pm at the hospital, where they all had gathered. We tried to intervene, but they did not let us talk. Then they told us that they did not want to make the matter public and wanted to settle it amicably. At the same time, they kept calling others to join them and a large number of clerics gathered while we three were all alone [Shahzad, his father and uncle].

 

“One of the clerics told me that the head of a nearby madrassah had called them to the madrassah to settle the matter, after which the entire mob went there.

 

“[His uncle] Rafaqat and I also went there, but I sent Rafaqat to go inside along with Shahzad, who they had in their custody. The leader of the group argued that the crime committed by Shahzad was punishable with death alone. While they were discussing this, two police vans arrived. The chief policeman asked for Shahzad, but they were reluctant to give him up and only handed him over on the promise that the decision would be taken the next morning. As I was standing outside, I saw the police taking Shahzad along with them, but since then they haven’t allowed us to see him.”

 

The police chief, Shahbaz Hinjra, told a local newspaper that Masih was in their custody and that they were investigating the matter.

 

Former Punjab parliamentarian Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, leader of the largest Christian political party, told World Watch Monitor that he had personally investigated the matter and found that initial argument had centred over Shahzad Masih’s colleague’s attempts to convert him to Islam.

 

“When our people try to defend themselves and their faith then often it becomes an issue and later such cases are lodged,” he said.

 

One of Jalali’s relatives, Muhammad Saqib Shakeel Jalali, a leader of Tehreek-e-Tahfuz-e-Islam Pakistan, told a local TV station a day after Masih’s arrest: “If the blasphemer is acquitted of the charge then each member of our organisation would attack him.”

 

Pakistani Muslims line up to visit the tomb of [assassin] Mumtaz Qadri on the outskirts of Islamabad on 1 March 2017. Qadri was hanged in February 2016 for the murder of former Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, who criticised Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and defended Asia Bibi, a Christian woman on death row for blasphemy since 2010.

 

Masih’s father says he and his family have been on the run ever since. “We don’t even know what to eat and where to live,” he said.

 

His uncle, Rafaqat, told World Watch Monitor that there are about 25 Christian families in the area and no such incident had ever taken place before.

 

The Tehreek-e-Tahfuz-e-Islam Pakistan website claims that no suspect has yet been awarded the death penalty under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, even though the Christian woman Asia Bibi has been on death row for blasphemy since 2010. The website also says that liberal Muslims want to amend the current blasphemy law and must be stopped – a key reason for the organisation’s founding 10 years ago. In April, a Muslim student was beaten to death in the city of Mardan following an accusation of blasphemy.

 

Several blasphemy cases have been registered before in Gujrat, one of the most conservative areas of the Punjab province. In August 2015, 15 Christians were accused of blasphemy after they used the word “apostle” to describe a pastor who had died years before. Then in July 2016, a Christian man was accused of blasphemy after a religious argument on the messaging service WhatsApp. Both cases are still pending in the court.

 

The Aasiya Noreen story

Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, received the death penalty in 2010 after she allegedly made derogatory comments about Islam’s prophet Muhammad during an argument with a Muslim woman.

While the two women were working together, the Muslim woman had refused water from Bibi on the grounds that it was “unclean” because it had been handled by a Christian.

The Muslim woman, together with her sister, were the only two witnesses in the case, but the defence failed to convince the appeals judges that their evidence lacked credibility.

In the High Court appeal hearing in October 2014, Bibi’s lawyer, Naeem Shakir, argued that the main complainant in the case, the local Muslim cleric Mohamed Salaam, had not heard Bibi blaspheme, and that his original complaint had been lodged five days after the women’s quarrel. Shakir argued in his appeal that during the trial the only reason given for this delay was “deliberation and consultation”, and said that Salaam had acknowledged this in court.

Salaam was filmed by an international film crew who made a film about Bibi in May/June 2014, saying that it is his religious obligation to defend the dignity of Muhammad and that is why he decided to be a witness before the court. He only heard Bibi allegedly confess to blasphemy when she had been brought before a village council several days after the quarrel.

Her other main accuser, Mohamed Imran, the owner of the field in which she worked, had not been present at the time of the quarrel either; he was away from the village.

Bibi’s case attracted widespread global attention, much of it critical of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws, which critics contend are routinely abused as a pretext to settle personal scores. Two prominent Pakistani politicians were assassinated in 2010 after they spoke publicly in Bibi’s defence.

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Blasphemy Law is Revenge Instrument in Pakistan

John R. Houk

© July 19, 2017

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ISLAMISTS IN PAKISTAN ACCUSE CHRISTIAN MINOR OF BLASPHEMING ISLAM’S PROPHET

 

About the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 54 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He is also the author of some 45 books and has two US-based TV programs –- “Windows on the World” (with Garry Ansdell) and “Inside Hollywood with Dan Wooding” — which are both broadcast on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv/), and also a weekly radio show called “Front Page Radio” on the KWVE Radio Network (www.kwve.com).

 

You may republish this or any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net). Please tell your friends and colleagues that they can receive a complimentary subscription to our news service by going to the above ANS website and signing up there.

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Pakistani Christian boy, 16, charged with blasphemy for discussing his faith

 

Copyright © 2011 – 2017 — World Watch Monitor. All Rights Reserved. 

 

About WWM

 

World Watch Monitor reports the story of Christians around the world under pressure for their faith.

 

Freedom of belief, guaranteed by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, plays a critical part in the unfolding, complex story of the 21st Century. We exist to tell this part of the story with accuracy and authority. We respect and uphold everyone’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; Our focus is on the global Christian Church.

 

World Watch Monitor is particularly concerned with reporting on the underlying causes of persecution. We aim to connect the dots to reveal the forces behind acts of violence and injustice.

 

We strive to be the most trusted and consulted source of news about Christians who suffer for their faith. World Watch Monitor editors commission journalists around the world to report on persecution, from READ THE REST

 

Author: oneway2day

I am a Neoconservative Christian Right blogger. I also spend a significant amount of time of exposing theopolitical Islam.

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