Mentally challenged Christian teen faces court trial over alleged blasphemy

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A legal aid group The Voice attended first court hearing of Asif Masih- a Christian teenager accused of committing blasphemy. Asif Masih appeared before the court, in order to face a trail over alleged blasphemy. Asif barely escape death, as an agitated mob tried to execute him for committing blasphemy by burning pages of Quran.

Blasphemy cases in Pakistan

16-year-old, Asif Masih who is mentally challenged and an illiterate has been charged under section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code. His quandary began on August 12, 2017 when he was in the market purchasing household goods. Suddenly, Muhammad Nawaz also known as Majhoo, a local Muslim who sits at the shrine of a saint grabbed Asif and started yelling that the teen had broken a tax collecting box placed in a shrine.

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Waheed Masih, uncle of Asif reveals: “As soon as a mob gathered, Majhoo incited them by saying that Asif had burned pages of a Quran, at which people started beating him up.” While he was being beaten, police arrived at the scene and hooked Asif. Police intervention saved Asif Masih from an extra judicial punishment for alleged blasphemy.

Agitated mob was furious to such an extent that they tried to snatch Asif from policemen and pull him out of the police van. “They were shouting that they wanted to kill him and burn his body. Realizing the pressure, the police called Alipur Chatta Police Station to send more policemen. Until they arrived, Asif was still being beaten up and, out of fear, confessed that he had burned the pages,” Waheed Masih stated.

Complaint Arshad Ali cleric of a local mosque, maintains in the First Investigation Report (FIR) that “at about 12.30pm, I was at the Pir Sandhay Shah shrine, along with Nawaz Matchi and Munawar Hassan, to offer prayers, when Asif entered the shrine, picked up the Quran, brought it out, poured kerosene oil on it and set it on fire.”

Asif Masih was forced to confess to have committing the crime, and is in police custody since his arrest. Despite the fact that there are inconsistencies in the evidence and lack of credible witnesses Asif Masih is still facing blasphemy charges.