Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Two Pakistani Christians accused of desecrating Quran

All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) chief calls for repeal of Pakistan blasphemy laws...
FAISALABAD, PAKISTAN-A Pakistani Christian man and his daughter have been arrested by the police after they were accused of desecrating the Quran, the Muslim holy book, in Gojra, a famous village of Tehsil Jhumra in district Faisalabad in Punjab province in Pakistan.ANS has learnt that a seven year old son of Gulsher named Amsal picked a polythene bag from the street and brought it to his home on October 8.The child gave the bag to his 18 year old sister, Sandal, who found torn pages of Quran among the contents of the bag.Sandal gave the bag to her female Muslim neighbor, asking her to give it the local cleric.A Muslim lady, Samina bibi, a resident of the area, had a minor clash with Gulsher’s family some time back. She had then allegedly threatened Gulsher’s family with dire consequences.In an apparent bid to settle personal scores with Gulsher’s family, Samina alleged that Gulsher and Sandal had desecrated pages of Quran before handing them to their Muslim neighbor.Local clerics made announcements from minarets of mosques to make the “desecration” public with a view to incite Muslims to attack the “blasphemers”.On October 9, hundreds of angry Muslims came out of their houses after learning about the alleged desecration of the Quran. The charged mob attacked Gulsher’s house but the police managed to pull the family out of harm’s way.The local Muslims later pressured the police to lodge a blasphemy case against Gulsher and Sandal.A case vide, Police First Information report no. 396/2008 under section 295-B, which carries life imprisonment if convicted, has been filed against the accused by one Farooq Alam, a complainant in the case.ANS has learnt that Farooq denied witnessing any desecration either by Gulsher or Sandal.He reportedly told the police that he had been told that Gulsher and Sandal had committed profanity.The police presented Sandal, one of the accused, before a magistrate. Eric Sandhu, APMA lawyer and district legal coordinator of Faisalabad defended Sandal in the court.He pleaded in the court that the Christian teenage girl is innocent and prayed the court that she be granted post-arrest bail. The magistrate sent her to district jail Faisalabad after refusing post-arrest bail plea.A Muslim mob maintained its presence outside the court. They chanted slogans against the accused and their family. Talking to ANS the Chief of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, a leading umbrella organization of Pakistan minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti said that the APMA team members from Jhumra, a nearby village, and from Faisalabad rushed to the scene of incident and rescued the endangered family with the help of the Police.Sensing danger to the lives of the rest of family members, the APMA members have moved them to safety, Shahbaz told ANS. He said he would also take up the case with the higher authorities. Lamenting the misuse of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws, he said the law had become a death warrant in the hands of extremists, who he said were already bent upon destabilizing the country. Shahbaz called for repeal of all discriminatory laws including Pakistan blasphemy laws. The APMA has also taken up the case of Dr. Robin, a resident of district Hafizabad and other blasphemy accused as well. Shahbaz expressed optimism that Dr. Robin would be acquitted. The APMA Chief said that the APMA lawyers would defend the accused. He said the APMA will extend needed support and assistance to the family members of the accused. He said that the fresh blasphemy case was a clear example of misuse of the disputed laws. “The case is baseless, fallacious, concocted and based on personal enmity with the accused”, he remarked. Shahbaz appealed for prayers for the protection and release of Gulsher and his daughter.
By Sheraz Khurram Khan
Special Correspondent for ASSIST News Service in Pakistan
As in the days of Noah...

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