Five Christians Charged with Blasphemy in Pakistan

Thursday, April 12, 2007

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN -- Five Christians, including a 16-year-old boy, have been falsely accused of and charged with "blasphemy" against Muhammad on April 1 in Toba Tek Singh, Punjab, according to an April 6 report from Compass Direct.

The charges against Salamat Masih, his son Rashid (16) and his relatives Sahibah Masih Mota, Shehla Masih and Bao Masih were filed by their Muslim neighbour, Abdul Ghafar. Ghafar claimed that Salamat and Bao Masih snatched a sticker with Muhammad's face on it out of his nephew's pocket and stomped on it. He also claimed that the five Christians forcibly entered his house, armed with a pistol and wooden rods, and shouted remarks against Muhammed and abused his family.

Local Christians say that Ghafar's report was entirely fabricated and that the true source of the conflict was an argument between Salamat Masih's 11-year-old son, Daniel and some of his Muslim playmates. The Muslim children reportedly beat Daniel when he refused to play with them. This sparked a heated confrontation between Daniel's mother and one of the Muslim families. Offended, the family reported a false case with local police.

When local Muslims heard of the accusations of blasphemy, they attacked the Christian Colony, a Christian neighbourhood, stoning houses and injuring a number of believers. A handicapped Christian named Ratan Masih was badly beaten before police beat back the mob and rescued him.

The five Christians have been charged under articles 295-A and 295-C. If convicted, they could face three years imprisonment, a fine and the death penalty, or life imprisonment and a fine. They have all gone into hiding except Salamat Masih, who was arrested and remains in police custody.

Pray that the truth will come out in this situation and that all charges against these Christians will be dropped. Ask God to give healing to those injured. Pray that Christ will strengthen Pakistani Christians to follow His example and remain faithful to Him (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).

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