Two Christians studying Bible charged with blasphemy in Pakistan
Morning Star News reports that Pakistani police in Lahore have charged two Christians with blasphemy after Muslims objected to their Bible study in a park, the attorney for one of the accused said. Haroon Ayub Masih and his friend Salamat Mansha Masih (both twenty-six) were studying the Bible in Lahore’s Model Town Park last Saturday when a group of Muslims approached and told them they should not read the Bible in public, attorney Aneeqa Maria of The Voice Society explained.
When Haroon Masih told them that reading the Bible in public was not a crime in Pakistan and that they had no right to stop them, the Muslims began questioning them about their Christian faith and asked if they had any reading material to help them understand the Bible, Maria said.
“On their insistence, Haroon gave them a Christian book entitled, ‘Zindagi Ka Paani’’ or ‘Water of Life,’” said Maria, who represents Haroon Masih. The youths took the book and left Haroon and Mansha for the time being. Haroon Masih returned home a few minutes later, while Mansha Masih remained in the park.
A few minutes later, the Muslim youths returned to the spot where Mansha was present and attacked him, claiming that he and Haroon had blasphemed against their prophet,” Maria told Morning Star News. “They also summoned the park’s security and lied to them that the two Christians were evangelising to Muslims in the park and had used derogatory words for the Koran and the prophet [Muhammad].”
Maria said someone from the group of Muslim friends, which was led by Haroon Ahmed, then called the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a far-right Islamist political party behind most blasphemy cases against Christians and the Ahmadiyya, a sect originating in Islam that Muslims repudiate.
TLP leaders arrived, and under their pressure police registered a case against the two Christians for derogatory remarks against Muhammad, defiling the Quran and deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings. In Pakistan, such offences are punishable by death.