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 >>
KARACHI, Pakistan – Two Christians were gunned down and two others are in a serious condition with bullet wounds after Muslim youths attacked them outside a church building in Hyderabad last night, witnesses said.
Residents of Hurr Camp, a colony of working-class Christians in Hyderabad in Sindh Province, were reportedly celebrating the 30th anniversary of their Salvation Army church when a group of Muslim youths gathered outside the building and started playing music loudly on their cell phones. They also started teasing Christian women as they arrived for the celebration, according to reports.
Christians Younis Masih, 47, Siddique Masih, 45, Jameel Masih, 22, and a 20-year-old identified as Waseem came out of the church building to stop the Muslim youths from teasing the Christian women, telling them to respect the sanctity of the church. A verbal clash ensued, after which the Muslim youths left, only to return with handguns. more >>