LAHORE, Pakistan – A Christian illegally detained in Faisalabad on false blasphemy charges was freed Sunday, while two other Christians in Gujranwala arrested on similar charges on Friday (April 15) were also released – until pressure from irate mullahs led police to detain them anew, sources said.
Masih and his family have relocated to a safe area, but just 10 days after he was falsely accused of desecrating the Quran in Faisalabad district of Punjab Province on April 5, in Gujranwala Mushtaq Gill and his son Farrukh Mushtaq were taken into “protective custody” on charges that the younger man had desecrated Islam’s holy book and blasphemed the religion’s prophet, Muhammad. A police official told Compass the charges were false.
Gill, an administrative employee of the Christian Technical Training Centre (CTTC) in Gujranwala in his late 60s, was resting when a Muslim mob gathered outside his home in Aziz Colony, Jinnah Road, Gujranwala, and began shouting slogans against the family. They accused his son, a business graduate working in the National Bank of Pakistan as a welfare officer and father of a little girl, of desecrating the Quran and blaspheming Muhammad. more >>
LAHORE, Pakistan – Police in Punjab Province, Pakistan have illegally detained a Christian on a “blasphemy” accusation, even though one officer said he was certain an area Muslim falsely accused 40-year-old Arif Masih because of a property dispute.
On April 5, Shahid Yousuf Bajwa, Masih’s next-door neighbor, initially filed a First Information Report (FIR) against “an unidentified person” for desecrating the Quran after finding threatening letters and pages with quranic verses on the street outside his home in Village 129 RB-Tibbi, Chak Jhumra, Faisalabad district. Desecrating the Quran under Section 295-B of Pakistan’s blasphemy statutes is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
“Some identified person has desecrated the Holy Quran and has tried to incite sentiments of the Muslims,” Bajwa wrote in the FIR. Clearly stating that he did not know who had done it, he wrote, “It is my humble submission to the higher authorities that those found guilty must be given exemplary punishment.” more >>
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Religious minorities in Pakistan, particularly Christians and Ahmadis, are increasingly under attack but political parties are unwilling to protect them, the country's leading human rights watchdog said Thursday.
"2010 has been a very bad year for minorities," said IA Rehman, secretary general for the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), unveiling its annual report for 2010.
HRCP condemned a wave of unprecedented attacks on minorities, including Christians and members of the Ahmadi community, whom Muslims consider heretics and whom the Pakistani government has officially declared non-Muslim. more >>
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A teenager arrested as an accomplice to Pakistan's deadliest suicide bombing of the year has said that up to 400 suicide bombers are being groomed to wage carnage in the nuclear-armed nation.
The news comes as the country’s Senate was informed on Friday that some 3,169 people had been killed in terrorism-related incidents, including a large number of suicide bombings, in the last two years.
Umar Fidayee, 14, said the would-be bombers were being trained in North Waziristan, the premier al-Qaeda and Taliban fortress in Pakistan's tribal belt where US officials want Pakistan to flush out militant strongholds. However, Pakistan has been resisting the pressure saying it does not have the resources to open another front. more >>
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A 24-year-old Muslim man desecrated the Bible at the gates of Saint Anthony’s Catholic Church in Lahore on Friday in order to “avenge” extremist American preacher Terry Jones’ desecration of the Quran in Florida last month.
Police arrested the man, identified as Akhtar Hussain, a resident of the neighboring district of Kasur, and registered a case against him under Section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Section 295-A states: “Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the 'religious feelings of any class of the citizens of Pakistan, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations insults the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both.” more >>
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Taliban militants carried out a double suicide bombing outside the shrine of the 13th century Muslim Sufi saint Ahmed Sultan, popularly known as Sakhi Sarwar, in Dera Ghazi Khan district, in Pakistan’s Punjab province, killing 42 people and injuring more than 70 on Sunday.
Hundreds of Muslims had gathered at the shrine for a ceremony when the attacks took place.
“We have recovered 41 bodies so far,” police officer Zahid Hussain said, adding that more than 70 people were wounded. “Both were suicide attackers, they came on foot and blew themselves up when police on duty stopped them.” more >>