PAKISTAN: Spate of Blasphemy Cases Against Christians

05 September 2023

Source: CLAAS- UK

In the wake of the devastating attack on Christians in Jaranwala, a series of false blasphemy cases has emerged in Pakistan, shedding light on the distressing misuse of blasphemy laws and the resulting violence against minority communities.

On 25 August, an incident unfolded in the Mochipura area of Kasur, where a sanitation worker’s family faced accusations of desecrating Koranic papers while cleaning a Muslim family’s home. The situation escalated as Islamic clerics called for attacks on Christian homes through mosque loudspeakers. Swift police intervention managed to defuse the situation, ensuring the safety of the Christian community.

These incidents follow a disturbing pattern. On 16 August, Jaranwala City witnessed a violent mob attack, resulting in the burning of 25 churches and 120 houses, displacing numerous Christian families. This attack was triggered by the arrest of Christian brothers Raja Amir and Rocky on blasphemy charges, highlighting the rampant misuse of blasphemy laws. Similar tensions arose in Sahiwal due to blasphemous content on social media, leading to police action and the registration of a First Information Report (FIR).

However, just four days after the Jaranwala incident, another potential blasphemy outrage was narrowly avoided in Sahiwal. In 186/9-L village, a Christian named Ehsaan Shan Masih uploaded a video on social media containing blasphemous images, similar to what had triggered the attacks in Jaranwala. Police action and FIR registration under sections 295A and B of the Pakistan Penal Code and provisions under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 averted potential violence.

In another instance, wet Koranic pages near a Christian house sparked an accusation, forcing some Christian families to flee their homes due to fears of mob violence. While police managed the situation, rumours continued to threaten local Christians.

Additionally, an FIR was registered in Sargodha on 25 August, against unidentified persons who allegedly burnt Koranic pages. Meanwhile, incidents of Islamic words being written on church buildings have also been reported.

Christians across Pakistan now live in constant fear, aware that baseless blasphemy allegations within their community could lead to revenge-driven attacks. Pakistan’s contentious blasphemy laws contradict ratified human rights conventions. The international community has consistently voiced concerns about these laws, and civil society has regained its voice, demanding attention to this issue. Unfortunately, the government has failed to promise change or new legislation to combat the misuse of blasphemy laws.

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