ANS – A news conference held by the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance highlighted the case of a Pakistani Christian arrested on charges of blasphemy. Attending the conference along with officials from the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) were members of the victims family.
The accused individual is Younis Masih, 27, a resident of Chungi Amer Sidhu, Lahore , who was arrested on Sept. 10 2005 (www.assistnews.net/Stories/s05090049.htm).
An APMA news release stated that a main reason for the news conference, attended by both Pakistani and international media, was to bring the attention of government authorities to the case, as some of (the) Pakistani newspapers manipulated the facts, and only published the point of view of Muslim men (www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_11-9-2005_pg7_10)
At the news conference, the release stated that Masihs wife Meena told reporters what really happened. She said that on Sept. 9, her husband went to a neighboring house where loud Islamic music was playing late at night. Masih asked for the music to be turned down.
However, the release stated, house owner Baba Chaby refused to turn down the music and when Masih again made his request the Muslim men there in the house became angry.
They quarreled, and abused Younis Masih, as a result of which he left the place and returned home, the news release stated Meena said. Next day, in the evening 30- 40 (men) were looking for Younis and when they found him in a billiard club, they thrashed him with sticks and beat him till he fell on the ground and became unconscious.
Meena told reporters at the news conference that when she tried to intervene, she was badly beaten and her clothes were torn to shreds.
Believing him to be dead, the attackers then left Masih. Along with some friends, the news release stated that Masihs wife then took him home. When Masih regained consciousness, his wife and a relative accompanied him to the police station to file a complaint against the attackers. They were told by local law enforcement that the assault would be investigated.
Meanwhile, the APMA news release stated, provocative announcements were made in mosques, instigating the local Muslims to attack and burn Christian houses and punish them, because a Christian man has committed blasphemy and uttered derogatory remarks against the Prophet.
According to APMA, after hearing that, about 400 protesters carrying sticks looted area houses, damaged a local church building, including breaking its cross, trashed Bibles and damaged the houses of known Christians.
Because of this, the news release stated, more than 100 Christian families have fled the area to save their lives.
The angry mob also surrounded the police station, the news release stated, and demanded that a blasphemy charge be registered against Masih. To appease the rioters, the news release stated, police charged Masih with blasphemy and showed the appropriate papers to the crowd to prove they had done so.
Police then arrested Masih and his cousin, who were already in the police station in the process of registering their complaint against the alleged attackers.
Masihs wife Meena also told reporters at the news conference, the APMA release said, that she saw police officers beating both her husband and a relative.
Meena refuted the allegations that her husband used derogatory remarks against the Prophet.
She also denied, the news release stated, that Masih threw bricks at the Imams (Islamic minister) door, inciting the group of Muslim men to beat him severely. She said, (That) is totally wrong, as he was in the billiard club when these Muslim men came to attack him and there are many witnesses of this attack.
Meena added, the news release stated, that the complainant Hafiz Abdul Aziz is a staunch member of Islamic extremist organization who is threatening our family and inciting the people to take law in their own hands.
Meena said, the news release stated, Islamic extremist organizations are threatening and harassing us. We fear for our lives … that we may be killed at the hand of extremists, so we appeal to President Musharraf and other Pakistani government authorities to save our lives and release my husband, who is involved in (this) baseless and fabricated blasphemy case.
Masihs brother Babu Masih said, the news release reported, My brother has not committed blasphemy. (The) police brutally tortured my brother and cousin in a police station, and (a) blasphemy case is registered without any investigation.
He added, We have left our home … to save our lives, but we continue to live under constant life threats. No government authority has so far visited our area to console the Christians who were attacked by the angry mob.
Babu Masih appealed to all peace loving people to help secure the release of his brother arrested in a fabricated blasphemy case. [Go To Full Story]