Blasphemy arrest in Pakistan: The Church of England Newspaper, April 15, 2011 p 8. April 21, 2011Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
The Diocese of Peshawar writes that a Christian man in Pakistan has been arrested by police, and accused of blasphemy. Friends and family members of Arif Masih (40) report he is being falsely accused by a Muslim neighbor who covets the man’s property and is using the blasphemy law for personal gain.
According to a statement from the National Commission for Justice & Peace (NCJP) Arif Masih of the Chak Jhumra district of Faisalabad was arrested on April 5 for having desecrated the Koran.
Shahid Yousaf, a Muslim neighbor of Masih, filed a complaint with the Sahiyanwala police station saying he found pages ripped from the Koran in the street, accompanied by a letter in English calling for the conversion of Muslims. A complaint was subsequently registered under Pakistan’s Blasphemy Code against person’s unknown.
Police then arrested Masih, based upon Yousaf’s complaint, although no evidence was presented of his guilt nor was his name appended to the warrant. The NCJP notes that Masih’s family recently prevailed in a lawsuit over a disputed piece of land with a member of Yousaf’s family.
According to the diocesan report Ejaz Masih, brother of the accused, charged the case had been fabricated by Yousaf “in order to grab a house adjacent to his house which Arif had purchased.”
The NCJP reports Masih is currently in police custody and has been moved to another station for his protection.
Approximately 964 people have been indicted for desecrating the Koran or insulting Mohammad since 1986, the NCJP said. Of these 479 were Muslims, 119 Christians, 340 Ahmadi Muslims, 14 Hindus and 10 from other religions. The NCJP said that since the law’s inception it “has been used as a pretext for attacks, personal vendettas and extra-judicial murders.”
Since 1986, 80 per cent of the blasphemy complaints have come from the central Punjab and there have been 43 extra judicial killings of those awaiting trial, the Masihi Foundation said.