Pakistanis Fear For The Life Of Christian Accused Of Blasphemy
Khurram Masih was working as a brickmason in a Muslim's home and has been accused of destroying a copy of the Quran. Human rights campaigners fear for his life.
By Rodrick Samson
12/06/2011 Pakistan (enerpub)-Khurram Masih (25) a Christian resident of Qazi, a town near Lahore, was accused of blasphemy in Pakistan on December 5. The recently-married Masih lives with his family and works as brickmason. He was installing marble at the residence of Abdul Majeed and, after completing the work, he and fellow workers collected left-over pieces of paper, newspapers and wood and burnt them.
When Abdul Majeed saw that the leftovers were burning, he started shouting that Khurram Masih had torn the Quran and burnt pieces of Islam's holy book. Then, Masih's fellow workers assaulted him and took him to the police.
Abdul Majeed filed a charge of blasphemy against Masih. Pakistani religious leaders along with human rights activists gathered at the police station and tried to get the matter sorted out, but the police and the local residents were not willing to release Masih. The accusers insisted on filing a First Information Report (FIR) against Masih. On December 6, FIR number 1112/11 for 295/B under the Pakistan Penal Code was registered against Masih.
Islamic extremist groups announced on loudspeakers that a Christian had desecrated the Quran and must be punished. Human rights campaigners fear that it is thus that hatred towards Christians will be spread. The activists and the organizations expressed their concern that Masih is not safe at the Shahdra police station.
Rev. Francis Xavier of the Catholic Diocese of Lahore said of the affray, "This is indeed a sad incident, the young man has been falsely accused for Blasphemy. His life is in danger in the police station. The person who filed the complaint is also linked with religious groups and is known for his hatred for the non-Muslims. Announcements have been made in the area about the incident, hatred towards the Christians is being spread. We fear for Khurram Masih`s life, he must be provided protection from the people announcing to kill him. The authorities must step forward and take necessary action to safe guard the precious lives."