LAHORE, Pakistan – A young man has been charged with desecrating the Quran under Pakistan’s controversial “blasphemy” laws after the Christian had an argument over rent with his Muslim landlord, his attorneys said.
Police in Shahdara Town, near Lahore, arrested Khuram Masih, 23, on Dec. 5 and charged him under Section 295-B after his landlord, Zulfiqar Ali, accused him of burning pages of the Quran in order to prepare tea, the attorneys said. Section 295-B makes willful desecration of the Quran or use of an extract in a derogatory manner punishable with life imprisonment.
Masih told his attorneys he was falsely accused because he had had an argument with Ali earlier in the day over the rent of the house in which he and his wife, Bano, a convert from Hinduism, have been living along with five other families in recent months. more >>
Pakistan will deploy extra police forces and snipers to protect churches in the eastern city of Lahore this Christmas to prevent possible attacks on the persecuted Christian minorities in the region, authorities said Wednesday.
An additional 2,500 policemen, including sharp shooters, will be protecting the area that is home to Christians living in Pakistan, Agence France-Presse reported. Police said there are 433 churches in the area.
"We have placed 38 churches in category A, which are most sensitive, and among them, 20 are even more sensitive as we expect foreigners to visit these churches on Christmas Eve," authorities told AFP. more >>
LAHORE, Pakistan – When Malik Pauloos of Bhakkar district, Punjab Province finally decided to trust a close relative with the secret that he had left Islam for Christianity, there was no question in his relative’s mind that Pauloos’ relationship with the family was over.
The family had been custodian of an Islamic shrine, the Pir Syed Karamat Shah in Kot Islam, for three generations. Though Pauloos had moved to Karachi, the capital of Sindh Province, 20 years ago to start a scrap business, he had continued fulfilling his duty to prepare the shrine for annual pilgrimages – but after he withdrew from it over time upon his conversion, shrine leaders were asking pointed questions about his adherence to Islam.
“I told him [the relative] to get the shrine people off my back, because I did not want to keep any point of contact with my past life,” Pauloos, 36, told Compass. “Although shocked, my relative said that he would first try and make my family understand the situation, and then they could figure out a way of letting me walk away peacefully.” more >>
LAHORE, Pakistan – In an attempted land-grab in southern Punjab Province, police and cohorts of a retired military official beat two Christian women and shot at Christians who came to help them on Friday (Nov. 25), area Christians told Compass.
About eight police officials led by Sub-Inspector Muhammad Arif of Kot Sarwar Shaheed police station, along with armed associates of a retired senior military officer, Air Marshal Maqbool Shah, arrived at the fields of Nazeer Masih in the Kot Addu area and ordered the six or seven women working there to leave, said area Christian rights advocate Waseem Shakir. The women included Nazeer’s wife, Martha Bibi, and daughter-in-law, Nasreen Bibi.
The men told the workers that they had come to take possession of the 12.5 acres that Nazeer Masih owns in Mauza Sadiqabad area of Muzaffargarh district, which they claimed had now been allotted by the Revenue Department to the Pakistan Army for distribution among retired officials. more >>
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A Christian couple is facing false charges of theft after police in Abbottabad severely beat the pregnant woman and her husband for three days when they refused to confess, they told Compass.
Salma Emmanuel was taken to a hospital in critical condition on Nov. 7, the life of her unborn child also threatened, she said.
In Abbottabad, 50 kilometers (31 miles) northeast of Islamabad in the Hazara region of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, the 30-year-old Emmanuel and her husband, Emmanuel Rasheed, a 39-year-old TV repairman, said that they were inexplicably arrested after the Muslim woman who employed Emmanuel as a maid had allowed the Christian woman to temporarily store some of her jewelry at her employer’s house. more >>
A newly built church in the city of Karachi that can seat as many as 5,000 worshipers tells the story of tolerance and flourishing of faith in Pakistan that often gets lost in the routine coverage of Islamist violence in this Muslim-majority country.
It took 11 months for the Catholic Archdiocese of Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh Province, to complete the construction of Pakistan’s largest church, St. Peter’s, in Akhtar Colony. But there was no sign of opposition.
For the 2,100-square-foot building’s inauguration on Nov. 9, “the entire commercial lane shut down [voluntarily] for security,” reported Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper. Archbishop of Karachi Evarist Pinto arrived on a horse-drawn carriage for the opening ceremony, and thousands of people greeted him by throwing rose petals. more >>