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ICC Note:

A Christians falsely accused of blasphemy in Pakistan has reclaimed his own dignity and the ability to provide for himself and his family after receiving assistance to re-open his business. In 2013, the Christian was falsely accused of blasphemy by a Muslim neighbor after an argument over money. For over three months, the Christian and his family had to go into hiding. This time away from his business allowed the business to go under. After his story was brought to light, a foreign organization assisted the Christian leading to him being able to reclaim his dignity following the false blasphemy accusation.

5/7/2014 Pakistan (Asia News) – Being able to rely once again “on one’s own dignity” is a “blessing” from Jesus Christ in this “Easter period.”  It is a blessing achieved also thanks to “AsiaNews who brought my story to light” and to the people “who have given me financial and moral support.” “I pray that those who, like me, have been the victims of false accusations of blasphemy in the country are supported by people similar to the philanthropists who have helped me. I can now earn a living and support my family.” These are the words of gratitude of the 20 year old Christian Philips Masih, a native of Daudnagar (Faisalabad, Punjab), who was charged last year under the “black law” and who today, can finally celebrate the grand opening of its new electric parts shop. A goal achieved thanks to the assistance of a benefactor through a humanitarian association and a “man of God” who wishes to remain anonymous.

His story dates back to April 13, 2013, in the Daudnagar, where in July 2010 a serious incident of anti-Christian violence took place (two Protestant pastors – Rashid Emmanuel and Sajid Emmanuel – on trial for blasphemy were murdered outside the courthouse by an armed Islamist). In this case, however, the victim was charged with false accusations by a neighboring Muslim (Muhammad Jameel) for having removed a poster from the walls of his house, that advertised a conference of Islamic experts.

During the investigation, earlier disagreements over money between Philips Masih and Muhammad Jameel emerged, explaining the pretext of blasphemy used to target the young Christian. However, the testimony of some local residents and the decisive intervention of Islamic religious leaders – including Muhammad Rehan, a member of the Committee for Interreligious Dialogue and the Mufti Muhammad Zia Madni – led to all charges being dropped. Following the episode, for security reasons Philips and his family had to leave the area and stay in a safe place for over three months. Meanwhile, the young Christian’s business went bankrupt and he was without a job.

AsiaNews told the young Christian’s story and captured the attention of a foreign benefactor who wanted to help him through human rights groups “on the ground.” The man, who now follows and supports six other people with similar stories, sent contributions in the form of food and groceries; decisive financial support, which allowed Philips to reopen his business with great fanfare on April 27 and an investment of 2 thousand dollars.

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