Christian falsely accused of desecrating the Koran finally released after almost four months in prison.
AsiaNews (02/22/06) Yousaf Masih, a Christian detained on blasphemy charges, has been released. His alleged crime led to the eruption of violence against the Christian community in Sangla Hill in Pakistan . On 18 February, the
Two days later, on 20 February, 65 out of 85 Muslims detained for the assault on churches in Sangla hill were also released on bail.
Last month, Mohammad Saleem Kalu, the man who had charged Yousaf Masih with blasphemy, withdrew the accusation and signed a document declaring the mans innocence. Saleem said he had accused the Christian on the basis of mere suspicion.
It was the blasphemy charge against Masih, a semi-illiterate farm hand, which provoked a mob of around 2,000 Muslims who attacked, destroyed and set fire to three Christian churches, a convent, two Catholic schools and the homes of a Protestant pastor and a Catholic parish priest, as well as a hostel for girls and the homes of some Christians in Sangla Hill village.
On 2 December, leaders of some Islamic religious groups, gathered for Friday prayer, heaped more condemnation of the Christians head, and went so far as to call for his public hanging.
The so-called blasphemy law (article 295 b & c of the Pakistani penal code) carries life sentences for offences against the Koran and the death penalty or life imprisonment for defamatory actions against the prophet Muhammad.
The laws are often used to settle personal scores and get rid of ones enemies. The Catholic Church and minority communities have long been calling for a total repeal of the legislation, considered an anomaly in the countrys justice system.