Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Pakistan acquits and releases 115 Muslims accused of burning down 150 Christian homes over “blasphemy”


Pakistan regularly claims to the world that it wants to partner with the West to fight jihad terrorism, while all too many of its citizens keep on demonstrating a propensity for violence against innocent Christians, manipulating the nation’s harsh and unjust blasphemy law with official sanction. In this case, Pakistani officials released 115 Muslims who were accused of burning down 150 homes of Christians “over alleged blasphemy of the Prophet Muhammad.”
The March 8, 2013, attack was seen as the largest anti-Christian violence since the attacks in 2009 that killed nine Christians in the town of Gojra in the same province of Punjab.
Regarding Pakistan’s barbarous blasphemy law:
The Pakistani government…. even after hundreds of innocent citizens have been murdered and hundreds of others are languishing in prisons, has yet to make any amendments to provide safeguards against their misuse.
In Pakistan, it is routine for Muslims to falsely accuse Christians for blaspheming Islam, sometimes as revenge in a dispute. Such a case made headlines when Christian mother Asia Bibi, who has been jailed and awaiting execution since 2009, got into an argument with a group of Muslim women because she dared to drink out of the same cup while working in a field. The women then accused her of blasphemy after she stood up to them. Pakistani Muslims have threatened riots if Bibi is released, and 150 Muslim clerics have demanded her death.
“Pakistan Acquits All 115 Suspects in Burning of Christians’ Homes”, by Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post, January 29, 2017:
A court in Pakistan on Saturday cited lack of evidence to acquit all 115 suspects in the burning of more than 150 houses of Christians in 2013 over alleged blasphemy of the Prophet Muhammad.
Chaudhry Muhammad Azam, Lahore’s anti-terrorism court judge, said the prosecutors failed to produce sufficient evidence against the accused, who had been charged under various laws, including the Anti-Terrorism Act, attempted murder, robbery, arson and terrorism, according to The Indian Express.
A prosecution lawyer, however, disputed the judge’s conclusion and was quoted as saying, “This incident not only spread a wave of terrorism in Lahore but also brought a bad to name to Pakistan.”
The March 8, 2013, attack was seen as the largest anti-Christian violence since the attacks in 2009 that killed nine Christians in the town of Gojra in the same province of Punjab.
Police arrested the accused two days after a mob of about 3,000 Muslims armed with sticks, clubs and stones burned at least 150 houses of Christians, a church and shops in the Joseph Colony area in Lahore over allegations that a Christian had made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad.
After the incident, a Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, reprimanded the government of Punjab and the province’s police for failing to protect members of the minority community. Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh, a member of the bench, said the violence took place “right under the nose of Punjab Police and there was total inaction.”
The court also said at the time that police at the “highest level” may have been told not to take action when the violence erupted.
The accused in the blasphemy case, identified as 26-year-old Sawan Masih, and the complainant, his Muslim friend identified as Imran Shahid, had quarreled under the influence of liquor, but the latter claimed it was a case of insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
“Both Imran and Sawan are close friends and the former has made the allegation only to settle a personal score because they had quarreled over some petty matter,” a local resident, Dilawar Masih, who lost his house and shop in the attack, was quoted as saying at the time. He added that the attackers burned their houses even after the accused had been arrested.
Blasphemy is punishable by life in prison or even death in Pakistan.
The blasphemy law, embedded in Sections 295 and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code, is frequently misused to target religious minorities – Christians, Shi’as, Ahmadiyyas and Hindus – and allows Islamists and others to justify killings. Extremist Islamists believe that killing a “blasphemous” person earns a heavenly reward.
Just an accusation under the controversial law is enough to have a person arrested, and there is no provision to punish a false accuser or a false witness of blasphemy. Some local Muslims seek revenge by making an allegation against his or her adversary who is a non Muslim.

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