FAISALABAD: The blasphemy string continues; as another Pakistani Christian gets named in a blasphemy case miraculously advocated by a Muslim cleric./blockquote>
Two Muslim students name a 50 year old Christian Asya Masih for allegedly burning pages of the Holy Quran. The defendant claims, “It was a text book in Arabic.” However, a local Muslim leader has been instrumental in saving woman from possible outrage from religious fanatics. Asya is said to be hiding for fear of vengeance. The Muslim leader urges all to “properly evaluate the facts” and not “stir up divisions.”
Nonetheless, the exclusive cooperation between local Muslim religious leaders and Pakistani Christian activists has successfully advocated a peaceful settlement of this case. The incident reportedly occurred recently, when Asya moved into a rented house in Chamanzar Colony, Faisalabad. On October 29, after she had cleaned her new apartment she set on fire the litter she had gathered from the area in her garden. The accusers, who claim to have witnessed the act, saw a few pages written in Arabic among the remains on fire. They instantaneously assumed the burning pages were of the Holy Quran. They knocked on her door, accused her of having committed the crime of blasphemy which they had witnessed.
Frightened and alarmed Asya later fled with her family to a secure place and remains hidden yet she still fears of retaliation – albeit the episode has had an encouraging ending.
Commendably the interference of a Christian activist and the cooperation of a local Muslim cleric were essential to the non-violent resolution of the case. In the first place, an investigator from the Human Rights Defender Network, gathered evidence of Asya’s innocence. Later he approached the cleric, belonging to the Peace Committee of Faisalabad. The cleric assured his cooperation after analyzing the facts and vindicated the Christian woman of the blasphemy charges thus publicizing her innocence to religious to the in front of the entire locality.
The cleric therefore stated that the burned pages “are not from the Koran, but a school book in Arabic,” at the same time he called on Muslims to “properly evaluate the facts, before launching heavy accusations because they end up only fomenting hatred and division”.
While reflecting on this case, Iftikhar Ahmed- Coordinator of the NGO South Asia Partnership praised the mediators who settle such delicate issues using wisdom. He added, “The religious leaders need to promote peace and harmony in their speeches, in order to create a more prosperous society”.