There is no provision in Pakistan's blasphemy law to punish a false accuser or a false witness. Since 1990, more than 65 Christians have been killed for "blasphemy;" more than 165 cases are waiting for verdicts.

In recent years, the Christians of Pakistan have become one of the most vulnerable religious communities in the world. Most of the time, the Pakistani extremists use two common accusations to persecute the Christians: defamatory remarks toward Mohammed, and burning pages of Quran.

Christians in Pakistan, a news site on behalf of the Pakistani Christian community, predicted that the situation is becoming alarming. The site alleges that there are currently many cases being reported of Christians being targeted, but no action to reform or address the problem by any government official.

In a recent incident in Badami Bagh near Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore, Sawan Masih, a Pakistani Christian and two Muslims were quarreling over the drinking of alcohol. Four days later, on March 9, the Muslims accused him of insulting the Prophet Muhammad -- in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Iran, under blasphemy laws, an allegation punishable by death.

Police quickly arrested Masih, but a massive mob of 3000 Muslims wanted police to hand "the blasphemer" over to them. The mob attacked the Joseph colony, a poor Christian neighborhood, and burned 180 houses. Two churches were vandalized. The Asian Human Rights Commission stated, "on March 8, during the Friday prayers it was announced through the mosque loud speaker that Masih committed blasphemy by passing remarks against the last prophet of Islam. The police who were already prepared arrested Masih when a crowed attacked the community. In the ensuing incident they beat Masih's father seriously. The police asked the community to vacate the area, as there were chances of further attacks, totally ignoring their responsibility to protect members of the religious community. The police left the area thereby providing a perfect opportunity for the attackers to return the next day, March 9." In fear of Muslim reprisals, Christians rapidly fled the area, leaving behind homes and households.

There have been many persecutions like Younis Masih most Christians in Pakistan are named Masih], a Christian father of four, who has been on death row; Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, who was convicted of blasphemy (allegedly making derogatory remark about the Muslim prophet Muhammad), and in 2010, sentenced to death by hanging. In 2012, a Christian Pastor was charged with blasphemy. These and dozens of others are still fighting against criminal charges. Rimsah Masih, a 14 year old Christian girl afflicted with mental disabilities, was arrested in August 2012 after being accused by a local cleric of burning 10 pages of the Quran. In addition, there is no provision in Pakistan's blasphemy law to punish a false accuser or false witness. Since 1990, either mobs or individuals have killed more than 65 Christians accused of blasphemy. 165 blasphemy cases are waiting for court verdicts. There have been many extrajudicial killings of Christians, seizures of Christian graveyards, and forcibly vacating from lands where Christian have been living for decades. Some people accused of blasphemy have been killed in prison or shot dead in court.

In 2011, two high-level Pakistani Christian politicians who had attempted to repeal the blasphemy laws were assassinated. Salman Taseer, the only Christian Governor and Minister in Pakistan's cabinet, was killed by his own guard. According to reports at the time, Pakistani lawyers, as well as street mobs, took the side of the murderer. Two months later, an Islamist killed the Minister for Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti. According to a Human Rights Watch report in 2012, high-ranking officials of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) called for the amendment of section 295(C) of Pakistan's penal code, otherwise known as the blasphemy law. However, the government succumbed to pressure from extremist groups and dropped the proposed amendment.

Related Topics:  Pakistan  |  Mohshin Habib receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free gatestone institute mailing list

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