Yet another Christian victimized by Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, the repeal of which should be at the forefront of international human rights initiatives. “Blasphemy case: Christian man arrested for burning Quranic pages,” from the Express Tribune, December 7:
LAHORE: Shahdara police have arrested a Christian man after a charged mob blocked GT Road for three hours demanding that he be booked in a blasphemy case for burning pages of the Holy Quran.
The police registered an FIR under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code against Khurram Masih on the complaint of Zulfiqar Ali and arrested him on Monday night. Masih was produced before a judicial magistrate on Wednesday and remanded in judicial custody.
A mob of about a thousand people wielding sticks took to GT Road at Shahdara Chowk and blocked traffic with burning tyres on both sides of the road.
They damaged several vehicles and later ransacked Shahdara Town police station. Senior police officials went to the scene and appeased the protesters with promises to arrest the accused.
According to the FIR, Masih lived with his wife in a rented property in Majeed Park, Shahdara Town. On Monday his neighbour, also a tenant, told the property owner, Zulfiqar Ali, that the couple had burnt pages of the Holy Quran to light a fire to make tea.
He also told people in the neighbourhood and they began gathering outside the property and chanting slogans. Meanwhile, the couple fled to the house of a nearby relative.
Ali, the complainant, told The Express Tribune that he had visited the house after hearing of the incident and had seen burnt pages with Arabic verses on them, from a Quranic reader (qaeda). He said he had helped trace down the couple at their relative’s house and had them arrested.
“I had no choice,” he said. “Things were getting out of hand. I do not know where all the protestors came from.”
He said that only Masih had been arrested because he had made the tea, as his wife was asleep at the time.
Inspector Mian Shafqat Ali, who is in charge of the investigation, said that it had been established that the accused had burnt Quranic pages “intentionally”. He said that Masih’s wife had been released after interrogation as she had no role in the incident.