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ICC Note:

A recent string of blasphemy accusations in Pakistan against Christians has reminded the international community that the country’s controversial blasphemy laws continue to be used as a major tool of persecution. Over the past month, Christians were accused of blasphemy against Islam on at least three occasions and in one case, as many as 35 Christians were accused at once. All three cases seem to stem from persons vendettas and are likely false, which is a common occurrence in Pakistan. 

10/6/2014 Pakistan (Christian Post) – Christians have continued to be accused of blasphemy against Islam, in three separate recent cases in Pakistan. In one, a group of 35 was briefly accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammed before the charge was quickly changed from one of blasphemy. From evidence, all the cases appear to be either lodged to seek personal revenge, or solely to target Christians because of their faith.

All three cases have emerged in the Punjab, the largest province of Pakistan, which is home to dozens of extremist Islamist organizations. This is where most of the blasphemy cases against Christians have been lodged since the early 1980s, when these controversial laws were introduced by President Zia ul-Haq.

The courts have granted bail to the suspects in all three, which is rare in blasphemy cases, giving rise to the belief that the charges are not well-founded.

In the first case, a Muslim man lodged a criminal case against a Christian for sharing the Old Testament version of the story of Lot, from the book of Genesis.

The incident took place on August 23 in Bahawalpur, about 450 kilometers from Lahore. Sixty-year-old Naja Masih, a resident of Bahawalpur and a retired sweeper, was sitting outside his home with his neighbor Shahid Mehmood, who runs a barber shop in Masih’s street.

They were discussing similarities between the Bible and the Qur’an, after which Masih was charged and immediately handed to the police. In his First Information Report (FIR), submitted in the Civil Lines Police Station, neighbor Mehmood stated that Masih told him “God himself took human form (God forbid) and appeared to Lot, and told him to leave his village.” Mehmood further alleged that Masih had injured his religious feelings, by saying that when Lot had fled Sodom along with his daughters, his daughters “intoxicated” him and slept with him to continue their father’s lineage.

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