Christian Man Accused of Blasphemy is Arrested

A Christian man has been arrested and charged with blasphemy in Lahore, Pakistan, after a reported dispute with his landlord, in which the landlord accused the man of burning several pages of the Qur'an in order to make tea.

The Express Tribune reported that the police registered a First Information Report (FIR) under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code against Khurram Masih.

Zulfiqar Ali, the individual who filed the FIR is also the accused’s landlord. Masih was arrested on Dec. 5. On Wednesday of the same week Masih went before a judicial magistrate and remains in judicial custody.

Section 295-B states that anyone who makes willful desecration of the Qur'an or the use of an extract in a derogatory manner is punishable with life imprisonment.

The FIR states that Masih lives in a rented property with his wife in Majeed Park, Shahdara Town. Another tenant of the building told the landlord, Zulfiqar Ali, that the couple had set several pages of the Holy Qur'an on fire to help light a fire to make tea, according to The Express Tribune.

Various reports have stated that after word had spread about the supposed burning of the Qur'an a large mob gathered in front of the accused’s house demanding that Masih be arrested. The mob also reportedly set several vehicles on fire and vandalized the Shahdara Town police station.

Asif Aqeel, Executive Director for Community Development Initiative, told Compass News Direct that he and his team have decided to appoint Niaz Amer to handle Masih’s case.

“The case is yet another example of how the blasphemy laws are misused to settle personal issues,” Aqeel said. “There’s no use moving for bail in the trial court because the lower courts cannot sustain pressure in such cases … We will make efforts for his bail in the Lahore High Court once the proceedings begin,” according to Compass News Direct.

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