Compass Direct News (CDN) is reporting that police in Chichawatni, Sahiwal district have charged a mentally ill Christian with “injuring religious feelings” under Pakistan’s widely condemned blasphemy laws.
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(Photo: KeystoneUSA-ZUMA/Rex Features)
Three families related to 25-year-old Babar Masih – the only other Christian families in the area – have fled their homes after a Muslim mob threatened to harm them, relatives of the accused told Compass.
Police in Chichawatni, Punjab Province registered the blasphemy case against Masih on Monday (May 2) after arresting him at about 10 p.m. that night; the young man’s own family handed him over to police because a large number of Muslim clerics had gathered outside their house and demanded that he be turned over to them so that they could ‘do justice’ by killing him, relatives told CDN.
His brother, Amjad Masih, told Compass that Babar Masih has suffered a mental illness for the past six or seven years typified by fits of unprovoked rage, abusive language and lack of concern for food and clothing.
Masih was charged under Section 298 of Pakistan’s blasphemy statues for “uttering words . . . with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings” and Section 298-A for “use of derogatory remarks . . . in respect of holy personages.”
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CDN went on to say that Attorney Khurram Shehzad Maan of the European Center for Law and Justice’s office in Pakistan said that the complainant clearly states in the First Information Report that Babar Masih was addressing the stars as he allegedly cried out against the prophet and holy personages of Islam, Maan said.
“It means that the police must have come to know since the beginning that Babar was not a sane person, who was addressing stars, and also Babar never meant to injure feelings of any Muslims,” Maan added. Police were not available for comment at press time.
The CDN story conclude by stating that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have drawn condemnation across the world, and two senior government officials – Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer, a liberal Muslim, and Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, have been assassinated this year for demanding a review of the legislation.