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6/19/2024 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) — Two weeks after Nazir Masih succumbed to injuries he sustained during a brutal mob attack on May 25, an International Christian Concern (ICC) source in Pakistan said that 66 of the arrested assailants have been released on bail.

The mob of angry Muslims had attacked Masih, who was in his 70s, after claims that he had burned pages from a Quran circulated throughout his community in Sargodha. The mob also looted and burned a shoe shop owned by Masih’s son, Sultan Masih, and burned the family’s home, where Nazir, his two sons, and 10 other family members live.

The quick-bail release of suspects following a mob attack incited by false blasphemy allegations is an increasingly common trend in the predominantly Muslim country. Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws are often weaponized against Christians, who are at constant risk of being falsely accused of blaspheming Muhammad or the Quran. Those charged with blasphemy rarely go unpunished.

“There is no justice for Christians in Pakistan,” an ICC staffer said. “Nazir is just the most recent instance of Christians being treated as less than human. These attacks follow a pattern: a mob is riled by radicals, they attack innocent Christians for allegedly committing blasphemy, the police arrive too late, and ultimately release the offenders who then seek vengeance on those who are left.”

Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP) also recently raised concerns about the quickly posted bails for the attackers in a new report, wondering if such a trend exists to encourage more similar attacks. HRFP highlighted similarities between the deadly attack on Masih on May 25 in Sargodha and the Jaranwala attack on August 16, 2023.

“A same format has been seen in practice in both incidents and many other blasphemy cases, from the use of Quranic papers, provoking people, mob attacks, burning homes and properties, and after all that, the attackers easily get bail and released within few days,” their statement said. “HRFP demands strict actions following intelligence reports that have exposed the same people from same extremist groups have accused multiple innocents.”

HRFP stated in a press release that the police department’s investigation of the Sargodha attack has been “discouraging.” First Information Reports (FIR) were filed against 44 identified and 400 unidentified suspects for “murder, attempt to murder, obstructing public officials in discharging their duty, assaulting a public official and mischief by fire or explosive material with intent to destroy a house or cause death or hurt,” but so far no sign of justice being carried out.

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