A fourth Christian teenager has been arrested under the draconian blasphemy laws of Pakistan for allegedly burning a holy Quran. The incident mirrors the case of Rimsha Masih a teen aged girl with a mental disorder, who in 2012 was comparatively blamed for burning a Holy Quran, however later for her case police claims that the Quran was burnt by a local imam desiring to implicate the Christian boy.
Asif Stephen (16 years) flew out to his neighborhood bazaar on twelfth August to get a few cigarettes when he was confronted by a Muslim man named Muhammed Nawaz. Asif was accused for stealing a donation box placed on the tomb of a sufi saint and Mr Nawaz started to beat him and shouted out to others causing a mob to gather. As the crowd started beating Asif, Mr Nawaz called Imam Qari Rana Rashid Razvi (a Qari reads a Quran in a mosque with correct melody) and told to him that a Christian young boy had burnt the holy Quran.
Qari Rana is a former representative of the local district council and a known fundamentalist who often preaches hatred towards minorities; he arrived at the scene within a minute and started beating Asif publically even as the whimpering, frightened teenager begged for him to stop. Luckily another Christian man called the local police to save Asif’s life, however when the 15 Police officers arrived they captured Asif and secured him at Jhamakay checkpost.
“When the police took the suspect into custody and brought him to a police check-post, a crowd of around 200 men gathered outside. Demanding the culprit be handed over to them,” soon thereafter Asif was forcibly removed from the cell and beaten by Qari Rana and his cohorts.
An alarm was made to Ali Purr Chata Police Station and reinforcement officers were sent immediately to calm the situation.After that Police arrested the crowd of around 200 men and charge all of them with attempted murder and taking the law into their own hand.
Asif was moved to the more secure cells at District Jail Gujranwala and police say that he has admitted to being guilty for the crime – though it is believed by many that Asif has been coerced into a false confession.
Asif’s parents categorically claimed that their son was not involved with this matter. Asif took those burnt pages of Quran along with him and informed to the local Muslims but at that time no one took any legal action against it. Later on August 12, 2017 the Muslim mob gathered in the area and they blamed that Asif burnt these papers. They beat him and forced him to confess that he had burnt the pages. So, due to the pressure of the mob he confessed that crime, which he did not commit.
Asif Massih was charged under section 295-B of Pakistan’s penal code, He will stand trial and faces the possibility of being put to death.
Blasphemy is a sensitive charge in Pakistan, where even unproven allegations can trigger crowd lynching’s and violence.
A man was sentence to death for committing blasphemy on Facebook in June.
In May, a 10-year-old kid was killed and five others injured when a mob attacked a police headquarters trying to lynch a Hindu man accused of blasphemy for allegedly posting an incendiary image on social media.
No less than 65 individuals have been killed by vigilantes over blasphemy allegations since 1990.