31 March 2018

Punishing the powerless - Poor minorities are usually the target of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws

On February 25, Patras Masih, an 18-year-old Christian boy in Lahore’s Shahdara locality, was accused by the local Muslim community of blasphemy. He was arrested and thrown in jail, the case being non-bailable.

During investigation, which can be pretty brutal under the Blasphemy Law, especially if the victim is non-Muslim, Masih tried to save his life by accusing another fellow Christian, Sajid Masih, of the same offence. Sajid, a poor janitor, was summoned by the police.

According to Sajid, after his arrival at the building of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Temple Road in Lahore on February 23, “he was tortured… by some officials of the agency”. The boy then jumped from the FIA building and suffered multiple fractures. The punishment for blasphemy is death.

Once accused of blasphemy it is normally assumed that the victim has to die. If he is a non-Muslim and found innocent he can expect to spend a lifetime in jail. This applies to Christians, the most downtrodden and deprived population in Punjab. [The Indian Express] Read more