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Bishops plead for protection for Christians wrongly accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, as man dies after mob attack

by Heather Preston
ACN Pakistan BISHOP thumb.jpg - Banner image

Bishops in Pakistan are calling for greater protection for Christians wrongly accused under the country’s blasphemy laws.

The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, Bishop Samson Shukardin wants to see a clamp down on false accusations of blasphemy that are leaving minority communities terrorised by extremists.

It comes after Christian factory owner Nazir Masih died in hospital following a violent attack in the Punjab province.

The 73-year-old was ambushed by a mob of a thousand people for allegedly burning the Qur’an after scorched pages were found opposite his home. He died of his injuries a week later.

Under Pakistan’s penal code, a person who desecrates the Qur’an faces life imprisonment while insulting the Prophet Mohammad carries the death sentence.

John Pontifex from Christian charity Aid to the Church in Need tells Premier Christian News it should be the job of the state, not locals, to enforce law:

“They take matters into their own hands, the mob intervenes, and carries out what's politely called summary justice, which in effect means mob rule, and sees people whose case for blasphemy is by no means proven, being beaten up, injured and in the case of Nazir, sadly, having died."

Pontifex says Nazir Masih’s story highlights concern around Pakistan's blasphemy laws and their enforcement, and “casts a terrible shadow” over the lives of minority groups at risk of being falsely accused of such crimes.

Bishop Shukardin is calling for legislation “including jail terms” to ensure those who intentionally fabricate blasphemy allegations are held accountable.

“It needs pressure to come from abroad – government to government,” he added.

ACN is calling on the next UK government to launch a special inquiry into its foreign policy with Pakistan to ensure safety for religious minorities.

You can sign a petition for the inquiry here.


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