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ANS – A Pakistani Christian has been arrested on charges of blasphemy. Younis Masih, 27, a resident of Chungi Amer Sidhu, Lahore , was arrested on Sept. 10 2005. According to a news release from the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, APMA, on Sept. 9, Masih went to the house of Baba Chaby, and told him the loud Islamic music he was playing was disturbing people and stopping them from sleeping. APMA stated that Chaby refused to turn down the music, saying his Muslim friends were listening to the songs. When Masih reiterated his request, APMA reported that the Muslims in attendance became angry and “abused him for asking (them) to turn down the volume.”

As a result, Masih went home. The next day, APMA reported, the Muslims who had been listening to the music “discussed the issue with local Muslim fellows, exaggerating and manipulating the facts and incited them.” As a result, APMA reported, some of those people who had been in the house listening to the music went to look for Masih. They found him playing billiards, and “thrashed him with sticks and beat him till he fell on the ground and became unconscious.”

When his wife attempted to intervene she was also badly beaten, and her clothes were torn to shreds. The Muslims left Masih, thinking he was dead. He was taken home by his wife and a relative. When Masih regained consciousness, he went with his wife and the same relative to the police station to register a complaint. There they told the story to the local law enforcement who, APMA reported, promised to investigate the incident.

Meanwhile, APMA reported, announcements were made in area mosques, “instigating the local Muslims to attack and burn Christian’s houses … because a Christian man Younis Masih committed blasphemy and uttered derogatory remarks against (the) Prophet.” According to APMA, after hearing that, about 400 local Muslim protesters carrying sticks attacked and looted houses where Christian lived. Because of this, APMA reported, more than 100 Christian families have fled the area to save their lives.

A group of angry individuals then surrounded the police station, and demanded that a complaint be registered against Masih. They refused to leave until something was done. APMA reported that to appease the crowd, police registered a blasphemy case against Masih. Police then arrested Masih and his cousin, who were already sitting in the police station to lodge their complaint with police against the attack. According to APMA, the police took Masih and his cousin into custody “and tortured them brutally.” Masih was subsequently sent to jail.

In its news release, APMA stated that organizational lawyers have submitted a request to the police to push ahead with the case against those individuals who harassed and attacked Christians in their homes. According to APMA, “The police promised to register a case. The Christians in the areas are still in (a) state of fear, although heavy police contingents are deployed at the area to avert any further unpleasant situation.” APMA officials asked for prayer for Masih and his family, as well as other area Christians. They added, “Please pray that justice be done.”