CLAAS condemns Pakistani policeman humiliating Christian pastor

CLAAS has expressed its grave concerns over the growing misbehaviour towards and shameful treatment of the Pakistani Christian religious leadership.

On Sunday 12 June Muslim head constable Amir Abdullah hurried into united church in Fazalia colony, Lahore, and slapped the pastor, Riaz Rehmat, and used abusive language against worshippers during the Sunday morning service.

The policeman was supposed not to enter the church during service and should have been stopped by other policemen deployed there for the church security, but sadly nobody stopped him.

According to Amir Abdullah he received a call on the police helpline saying that church management were misusing the loud speaker.

He said that a Muslim, Shabir Shah, registered a complaint on the phone. In response to that complaint he barged into the church and used derogatory remarks against worshippers, telling them to stop the service.

When Pastor Riaz asked him not to disturb the congregation, the policeman made his way up to the pulpit and manhandled the pastor. That outraged the congregation and they began protesting against his insulating behaviour.

CLAAS’s team in Pakistan met with the SP (superintendent of police) Amara Athar in her office at Ghalib Market and demanded action against the police officer.

Later a senior police officer (DSP) arrived at the scene and promised to take action against the policeman and Shabir Shah, who had made a false complaint.

SP Amara Athar also stated that head-constable Amir had been suspended from service and an inquiry has been launched into him. She further shared the call records were being check to see whether suspect Shabir had called or not. She assured them that after the investigation, appropriate action will be taken and if necessary a case will be registered against anyone found guilty.

Nasir Saeed Director CLAAS-UK said: “This is a shameful act committed by the police. It is not the first incident of this kind but such incidents are now continuing to grow. Last month a similar incident happened in Faisalabad.

“The police hardly care about the Christians’ religious sentiments and often violate their right of religious freedom.

“In such matters the police have to be very careful as these such incidents can create devastation.”

Mr Saeed demanded that The IG (inspector General) police and the chief minister of Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif take stern action in these incidents and directions must be issued to the police that they cannot enter the church, especially during the service, unless there is a risk to security, and the priest in-charge must be taken into confidence.

Mr Saeed further said that humiliating the religious leadership cannot be tolerated at any cost.

“If there is a complaint against them that has to be fully investigated before taking any legal action against them.”

He demanded that a case must be registered under the terrorist act for terrorizing the priest and the congregation, and measures must be taken to avoid such incidents happen in the future.