01/23/2021 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – According to Barnabas Aid, three Christian men in Pakistan were accused of committing blasphemy on Christmas Day. According to local reports, the three Christians have been accused of burning pages of the Quran.
On December 25, police in the village of Kotli Muhammad Sadique were led to a pile of ashes which local Muslims claimed were pieces of paper from a box used to collect pages containing Quranic verses. Local Christians were quickly accused of blasphemy and a mob of Muslims gathered to demand the arrest of three Christian men.
Azeem Mehmood, a Christian man on leave from the Pakistani Army, was arrested on December 25. Irfan Saleem and Abbas Gulshan, two other Christians implicated in the incident, surrendered themselves to police on December 26.
Since their arrest, lawyers representing the three Christians claim no evidence has been presented against the accused. All three Christians were charged with committing blasphemy under 295-A of Pakistan’s Penal Code and were released on bail. However, authorities have said they could still charge the Christians with committing blasphemy under 295-B, which carries a penalty of life imprisonment.
In Pakistan, false accusations of blasphemy are widespread and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. Accusations are highly inflammatory and have the potential to spark mob lynchings, vigilante murders, and mass protests.
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