More Issues in Pakistan June 7

Darrell L. Bock's picture

There are more cases of blasphemy charges against Christians in Pakistan.Two incidents have occured recently. They are detailed in a piece from Christianity Today online.the URL is: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/juneweb-only/123-43.0.htmlHere is the opening of the article by Elizabeth Lawson:Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws have been used against Christians in two recent incidents, prompting a louder by groups who say the laws are abusive.Younis Masih, a 29-year-old Christian from Lahore, was sentenced to death on Wednesday, May 30, for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Muhammad in September 2005.On September 9, 2005, a neighbor of Masih's demanded that Christians gathering in their town observe Muslim and not Christian rituals, precipitating an argument between him and Masih, according to Masih's lawyer. The resident accused Masih of blasphemy two days later, and a lower-ranking officer investigated and arrested him.Masih's lawyer based his defense on the requirements of the law itself. In 2004, after increasing pleas for the amendment of blasphemy laws, Pakistan's national assembly made an effort to appease rights groups by permitting only senior police officers to investigate blasphemy cases, a measure which had not been implemented in Masih's case.Masih was not at the trial. He remained at Kol Lakhpat jail and appeared in the courtroom on video—the first video blasphemy trial in Pakistan. Masih's lawyer plans to appeal the death sentence, he told AsiaNews.it, a Catholic news service.In an incident later that week, Pakistani authorities cited blasphemy laws in suspending Christian faculty and students, and closing a nursing school in the capital city of Islamabad. On June 2, Muslim nursing students complained that Christian nursing students had defaced Qur'an verses about etiquette that had been posted above a water cooler. Accounts conflict about how the verses were defaced and whether any such thing happened. The Daily Times reports that the Pakistan Institute of Medical Science closed the school for 15 days, filed a blasphemy suit against unidentified persons, and suspended five of its Christian staff members—including the school's principal, who told the Associated Press that she was on leave at the time of the incident.

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