We have often remarked on the harm caused to non-Muslims in Pakistan by that country’s notorious blasphemy laws, which Muslims have used to penalize those with whom they have personal disputes, or who refuse to affirm the Islamic faith.
“Pakistan: Fear of the Holy,” from Compass Direct:
October 12 (Compass Direct News) — Many in Pakistan live in fear of offending God. It is an open debate whether the country”s notorious blasphemy laws are a source of that fear or a symptom of it.
This week one Pakistani bishop found himself fighting a pitched battle to keep blasphemy rumors from igniting riots against his Christian community.
“What usually happens is that word [that someone has committed blasphemy] spreads like wildfire and emotions take over,” Catholic Bishop Joseph Coutts told Compass from the Punjabi city of Faisalabad yesterday. “All it takes are one or two hotheads to take the lead. Once someone starts attacking houses, it’s so easy for the mob attitude to take over.”
Fresh allegations of blasphemy seem to be nearly a weekly occurrence in Pakistan (107 people were accused in 2005). Bishop Coutts has spent the last four days doing damage control to save the lives of two of the most recent suspects.
Police in Faisalabad barely rescued James Masih, 65, and his neighbor Buta Masih, 70, on Sunday (October 8) from the hands of a violent Muslim mob roused by claims that the illiterate men had burned pages of the Quran.
The Christian men had set old papers alight in the street near their homes in the city”s Munir Park district, Catholic priest Yaqub Yousaf told Compass.
Muslim neighbor Arshad Mubarak reported to police that Munir Park residents had seen the Christians lighting pages of the Muslim holy book, the priest said.
“It’s a totally false case,” Yousaf commented. “The fellow [Mubarak] wanted Mr. James” property and has been pushing him to sell it.”
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