Blasphemy case registered against 55 Christians in Pakistan

Nasir Saeed

Blasphemy cases have been registered against 55 Christians in Pakistan who allegedly desecrated a Muslim graveyard.

On 4 September Murid Wala police registers the cases and arrested 14 Christians after raiding their houses.

The remaining accused fled the village chak no 206 Tehsil Samandri, a district of Faisalabad Punjab.

As soon the victims’ families contacted CLAAS, a team left to help them.

After speaking to the police, CLAAS came to know that the case was registered for an alleged desecration of a Muslim graveyard in the village, which created tension between Muslims and Christians.

Because of pressure form the local cleric and Muslims, police registered the case under section 295C.

After protestations from Joseph Francis, Director of CLAAS-PK that 295-C cannot be invoked in this case as it is about defiling the holy name of the Prophet Mohammed, while this is a matter of the land encroachment, the investigation officer assured a fair investigation and also promised to drop the section 295-C.

CLAAS is supporting the victims and also trying to resolve the matter with reconciliation outside the court. CLAAS’s Team met the arrested Christians in the police station and assured them of their full support and legal assistance at every level.

CLAAS provided them with food – as they had not eaten anything since the previous night – and also requested the police o allow their families to visit.

There are between 300-400 Christians living among 1000 Muslims families in the village since Pakistan came into being in 1947, and Muslims are rich and landlords. Christians were allotted a small graveyard which has no more space left.

When they shared their problem with a local landlord Chaudhry Mohammad Wasif, he suggested that they use the Muslims’ graveyard which had been lying redundant for a long time and was no longer in use.

Although it was Wasif’s property, he didn’t legally transfer the land, which created a trouble as it offended some local Muslims and they attacked the Christians, abused them and registered a case against them under section 295-C, 506-B, 447, 148, 149.

The Christians, who were not aware of the case and only came to know when the police arrested them, have apologised.

All Christian families living in the village got scared as they came to know that blasphemy cases had been registered and they fled their houses in search of a safe place, as there are several examples of the burning of villages and towns and killing innocent people because of the blasphemy law.

Although the situation has cooled down and CLAAS is supporting the Christians, unfortunately this is another bad example of misuse of the blasphemy law against Christians. Because of the blasphemy law, and keeping in view all the incidents against them, Christians in Pakistan are living under constant fear. World church leaders have raised their concern about the ongoing misuse of the blasphemy law, while the British Prime Minister has also raised this matter with the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

However, unfortunately there has been no progress, and the Pakistani government has even failed to bring this matter to its Parliament for discussion about appropriate changes. Until this law is changed, Christians and religious minorities members will continue living under fear for their lives.