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ICC Note:

A mentally ill Christian man was arrested and sent to prison after being arrested by police for committing blasphemy. According to neighbors, Iqbal Masih, age 65, was arrested for blasphemy after he was witnessed reciting the kalima [the Islamic proclamation of faith] and shouting abuses at people in the streets. Masih has been diagnosed with a mental illness and when off his medication will go into the streets and shout abuses are passers-by. Despite this diagnoses, Masih was still booked for blasphemy and imprisoned. 

11/13/2017 Pakistan (World Watch Monitor) – A Christian man was arrested on the day of his son’s funeral in Pakistan last weekend, and charged with insulting Islam – blasphemy – despite being recognized as mentally ill. He is now in prison.

Iqbal Masih, 65, a retired father of nine, is from the Fazlia Colony of Lahore, a Christian neighborhood with around 1,000 residents, and has long experienced mental health issues, for which he is on medication.

Muhammad Waqas, the complainant, told World Watch Monitor that whenever Masih failed to take his medicine, he would go out into the street and shout abuse at passers-by.

A close family member of the Masihs, who wished to remain anonymous, told World Watch Monitor that his son, Bobby, had died following a short illness and that his father had stopped taking his medication.

“Bobby’s body was at home and people from the neighborhood were visiting to pay their condolences when Iqbal started shouting abuse, after which the women left his home,” Waqas said.

“Iqbal then recited the kalima [the Islamic proclamation of faith] and shouted abuse. Realizing that he was not behaving normally, the police were called to take him away so that tension between Christians and Muslims of the area might not arise.”

But Dilraj John, a local resident, said several Muslim clerics and others had also gathered, angered by Masih’s comments.

“Some of them wanted to set him on fire, but other sensible people suggested that Masih be handed over to the police as he was experiencing a mental health crisis,” he said. “Since then the situation is under control and the situation between Muslims and Christians is no longer tense.”

“Masih was mentally suffering. He could start calling names in the middle of the night. The complainant lives next door to him, but there was no previous enmity between them and the sole reason for the complaint was Iqbal’s name-calling,” he added.

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