A Christian laborer was jailed for blasphemy yesterday in Qaziabad, Pakistan for a crime he didn’t know he was committing: the illiterate man burned pages of the Quran.
Khurram Masih, 25, a mason by trade, was working with other Muslim laborers to lay marble tiles in a home. When finished, Masih was ordered to collect the trash they had left behind and burn it. The uneducated laborer threw all the papers he saw into the flames, unknowingly including the Quran.
When the owner of the home, Mohammed Abdul Majeed, came home, he immediately recognized the Islamic holy text in flames, and proceeded to beat Masih for his crime. The other laborers joined Majeed, pummeling Masih and calling him a blasphemer, according to the Pakistan Christian Post.
After the whipping, Masih’s once-friendly co-workers brought him to Saddar Police Station, where he was met with more violence. Due to the alleged blasphemy being announced over mosque loudspeakers, constituents of Qaziabad were already aware of the mason’s transgression, and were waiting at Saddar to kick and shove him to authorities.
Masih’s pleas of innocence fell on deaf ears as he was turned over to police. Mohammed Abdul Majeed filed a formal complaint against the worker for violation of Article 295b of the Pakistan Penal Code, a law prohibiting the disrespect of the Quran.
Protesting the charges were religious leaders and human rights activists of the Masihi Foundation, a group committed to being “a voice for [the] helpless and voiceless,” according to their website. Unfortunately, their protests were ineffective, as Masih still remains in jail.
Representatives of the Masihi Foundation said, “The young man is innocent and the accusations of blasphemy are false,” they told Agenzia Fides in a note. “In this area hatred towards Christians is [spreading].”
Masih leaves behind his wife, whom he married only two months ago, and his parents, with which he still lives in Shadhara. The Assistant Sub-Inspector filed a First Information Report, which means Masih will face a court on Thursday.
The Masihi Foundation urges others to take action on the issue, saying, “Khurram Masih's life is in danger. The authorities must take the necessary measures for his protection.”