Notorious blasphemy law has been invoked against six Christians in Faisalabad’s Illahi Abad neighborhood. Fearful of public vengeance, many Christian residents have fled from the area. Blasphemy charges were leveled against these Christians on Friday, February 23.
In this regard, an FIR no 238/18, was registered upon complain of a local cleric Munawar Shehzad. Six Christians namely Fayaz Masih, Riaz Masih, Imtiaz Masih, Sarfraz Masih, Saqib Masih and Mrs. Riaz were nominated in the FIR, as the complainant claimed that the said persons had insulted a “Naat.” He claimed that these Christians had barred him from spray painting a wall the “Kalma Tayabba,” (an Islamic proclamation)
Section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code was invoked against the nominated Christians and two out of six nominated persons are in police custody. 295-A deals with acts intended to insult religion or religious beliefs of others. The law carries punishment of imprisonment of 10 years, or a fine or else both.
Pervez Hayat, a Christian activist has explained that these accusations are fabricated. “It was actually an issue over kite flying which was purposely turned into a religious dispute,” he told an international charity and advocacy group International Christian Concern.
“Earlier, Christian and Muslim children got into a fight over catching a kite in the street which later involved the elders of the two communities,” he said adding that the dispute enraged the other party. “To teach the Christians a lesson, the Muslims of the area damaged Bible verses which were painted on the outside wall of the Khushkhabri Church,” he said.
“Muslims wanted to paint a name of an Islamic political party over the verses, but the Christians reacted to it and the issue turned into a religious dispute.”