Two young Christians charged with blasphemy based on false accusations
Two young Christians, Haroon Ayub Masih, aged 25, and Salamat Mansha Masih, aged 30, have been falsely accused and charged with blasphemy. They are accused of having preached Christianity to young Muslims and publicly dishonoured Islam, the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed at Model Town Park in Lahore.
The arrest of one of the two defendants – the second fled – took place immediately after Haroon Ahmad, a Muslim, filed a complaint at Model Town police station against the two youths on the 13th of February, claiming violation of blasphemy laws.
According to the plaintiff, Haroon Ayub Masih and Salamat Mansha Masih approached a group of Muslims and began preaching Christianity and then handing them a book in the Urdu language entitled “Zindagi ka Paani” (literally – Water of Life). Haroon Ahmad, in the First Information Report, says: “The two men began to commit blasphemy by dishonouring the Prophet Muhammad, saying that he was a vagabond, who got married to raise his generation while Jesus did not marry and proclaimed the truth”.
The report, sent to Fides, adds: “They said that the Torah and the Gospels are true books and that the Holy Quran does not tell the truth. They continued to dishonour Islam, hurting our religious emotions and feelings openly and publicly”. The author of the complaint further states:
“Christians have committed blasphemy by dishonouring the Prophet Muhammad, the Holy Quran and Islam. I ask you to punish the two men and the publishing house under the blasphemy laws for having published and printed these texts”.
The police have started a legal process based on the blasphemy laws and, in particular, Article 295 a / of the Pakistani Penal Code, which punishes “deliberate or malicious acts aimed at offending the religious feelings of any person, insulting religion and religious beliefs”, with a sentence of up to ten years imprisonment or through a fine. Then cited in article 295 b /, relating to “desecration of the Holy Koran”, which provides for life imprisonment, knowing that charges based on article 295 c / are also formulated for having “used derogatory remarks, pronounced, written directly or indirectly that offend the name of the Prophet Mohammed or other prophets”, the article which provides for the mandatory death penalty.
One of the two Christians, Salamat Mansha Masih, was arrested by the police when Haroon Ayub Masih managed to escape, and his family also went into hiding.