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More arrests for blasphemy in Pakistan

More arrests for blasphemy in Pakistan

Publication: The Tablet - World Church News
Date: April 14, 2001

Another Christian has been arrested in Pakistan on a charge of blasphemy. A schoolteacher, Parvaiz Masih, from Daska, 100 miles south of Islamabad, was reported to have uttered derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad. Students told their parents, and demonstrations broke out demanding Parvaiz's arrest. The penalty for defiling the Prophet's name is death.

In a separate incident, the Christian Shamoon Masih was charged with tugging the beard of Khuda-e-Noor, who had demanded payment of a debt. Tugging the beard is deemed a sacrilege in Islamic law, since the growing of beards is expressly prescribed in the Hadith (speech attributed to the Prophet which ranks immediately after the Koran).

According to the Human Rights Monitor, between 1987 and 1999, 47 Christians were arrested for violating blasphemy laws. Human-rights organisations say most of the charges were fabricated.

Two Christian men in Pakistan have been sentenced to life imprisonment on what supporters say are trumped-up charges of blasphemy. Amjad and Asif Masih were convicted of burning pages of the Koran while awaiting trial in prison in Jhang, about 250 miles south of Islamabad.

The two men were in prison on drugs charges, which they claimed were also false. While they were there, the charge was suddenly changed to desecrating the Koran, which automatically brings a life sentence. Both the police and prison staff had repeatedly said the two men had nothing with them when imprisoned, and could not therefore have set fire to the Koran.

Friends of the two accused said the law proved beyond doubt that they were innocent, and said they would appeal against the verdict.

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