7/19/16 Washington, DC (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Yaqoob Masih, 56, a Christian sanitary worker, was accused of committing blasphemy against Islam in Hyderabad, Pakistan on July 14, 2016.
According to Ranjha, an ICC source on the ground, “Imam Bakash, a Muslim watchman of a house accused Masih for burning pages of a book which contained Quranic verses. The pages were found in the garbage.”
“Masih is a government employee and was [working on] cleaning streets in Latifabad, a residential town in the city. Masih collected waste from the streets and dumped it at a specific [location], however Bakash, without verifying, tortured Masih with a stick, accusing him [of] committing blasphemy by burning pages of a book which [reportedly] carried Islamic verses. Masih was packing the garbage and waste in a trunk when Bakash accused him [of] blasphemy,” Ranjha told ICC.
While speaking with ICC, Ranjha said, “Masih got injuries on his head, neck and both of his elbows. He was in the hospital for treatment ‘til this report.” No other violent attacks against the Christian community were reported after this incident, sources confirmed.
Ranjha, however, praised police for taking control over the situation, which could have turned into a clash between the two religious communities. Police avoided registering a First Information Report (FIR) against Masih because they reportedly did not find evidences of blasphemy against the victim, which according to Ranjha, was a “healthy” sign.
Bakash remains in police custody for further investigation into instigating and provoking hatred against a Christian, according to a source.
Ranjha smells something dangerous “cooking and boiling” against Christians in the neighborhood, as, “this was the fifth similar incident within a month,” he said. However, he was grateful to the law enforcement agencies for scaling down the threats and controlling the angry mob.
Nasir Masih, a local social activist urged the authorities to take proactive measures to curb religious extremism. “All the residential areas, churches and church-run institutions should be provided adequate security,” he said.
Masih pointed out that the print and electronic media, schools, public places, and mosques’ amplifiers are all sources of sowing hatred in the minds of the citizens against minority groups. These should be strictly monitored and banned by the government, he demanded.
“Blasphemy allegations in Pakistan are one of the main contributing factors that make life difficult for Christians all over the country. While ICC commends the police for handling the recent Yaqoob Masih case reasonably and properly, we remain concerned about this alarming uptick in blasphemy-related incidents in Pakistan over the last several weeks. These swirling allegations usually amount to nothing more than arbitrary and petty vengeful attempts to settle personal scores that radical Pakistani Muslims use to target Christians and other religious minorities against whom they may hold personal grudges. The sad reality is that when these charges become official, victims often languish in jail for years, enduring an arduous appeals process in seeking justice, which could result in their execution. ICC calls on Pakistan once again to re-evaluate and end these blasphemy laws, which have been manipulated to become a tool of persecution towards Christians,” ICC’s Regional Manager, Troy Augustine, said.