More Than 200 Christians’ Houses Set On Fire Over Ridiculous Blasphemy Accusation In Pakistan

Photo Credit: ACLJ

The plight of Christians in Muslim nations continues to deteriorate as evidenced by a minor alteration that ended horrific violence, destruction, and persecution of a Christian community in Pakistan. Center for Law and Justice (CLJ) in Pakistan, an affiliate of the ECLJ, found out during its fact-finding visit that Sawan Masih, a Christian living in Joseph Colony, Pakistan, had an argument with his Muslim friend Shahid Imran – two friends of more than fifteen years who often argued about various topics. That night, Masih allegedly insulted the Prophet of Islam.

The next morning, on March 7, Shahid met his friend Muhammad Shafiq who had connections with iron market unionists. Shafiq took Shahid to union leaders who assured him of their support. The Aman Group (Peace Group) and Ittehad Group (Unity Group) told Shahid that he could take revenge on this insult if he followed their directions. The factory owners of Badami Bagh had recently offered to purchase the homes of the Christian residents, and to these businessmen, this incident seemed like a great opportunity to obtain the land for free. The next day, March 8, Shahid visited Masih’s billiard shop with Shafiq and three other union workers. Shafiq was armed with a long knife and was shouting that he would decapitate the blasphemer’s head. Masih was not present and did not know that people were calling for his life. An eyewitness told the CLJ that he “had sensed that Shahid was going to do something seriously bad to the entire Christian community.”

At 3:00 p.m., Shahid lodged complaint number 112/13 against Masih under Section 295-C of Pakistan Penal Code, which makes an insult of the Prophet of Islam a capital offense. One hour later, local mosques announced that Masih had blasphemed the Prophet of Islam. Masih did not come to the colony that evening after he had learned from his friends that a case had been registered against him. Taking advantage of the situation, both of the unions announced a strike in the steel factories to gain a political advantage in their upcoming union elections. Due to the strike, all the factory workers were available to attack Joseph Colony the next day, March 9.

The police negotiated with the Christian leaders and assured them that if Sawan Masih were handed over to police, the Christians would not be harmed. After the police told the Christians that the matter would be resolved only if Masih were handed to them, they handed Masih over to the police around 2:00 a.m. on March 9.

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