Asia

54-year old Christian arrested and beaten over blasphemy charges

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Lahore, Pakistan: Minority in Pakistan are facing false blasphemy charges. A 24-year old Christian man was beaten and arrested over the same charges.

According to Safia Shahid, the wife of Fansan Shahid, cybercrime officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Gujranwala Circle raided their Lahore home shortly after midnight and took him into custody on allegations that he had made blasphemous comments in a post on Facebook in 2019, reported Morning Star News.

The agents seized Fansan Shahid’s phone, a photograph and his national identity card and put him into their vehicle, she said.

They told her they were taking him to Gujranwala city because the complaint against him had been registered by an Islamist cleric who is a resident of Sialkot District.

Safia Shahid said her husband lost his cellphone in 2019, reported Morning Star News.

“We believe that the lost phone was misused by someone to post the blasphemous comment, because my husband did not use a passcode for its security, and his Facebook account was also logged in,” she said.

When she met with her husband briefly in FIA custody in Gujranwala on Wednesday (March 17), he told her they had tortured him into confessing the alleged crime, she said.

Her husband has multiple health problems, and as blasphemy cases go on for years without a chance of bail, she said she was extremely worried about how her family would cope.

False accusations of blasphemy are common in Pakistan, often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. The highly inflammatory accusations have the potential to spark mob lynchings, vigilante murders and mass protests.

Pakistan ranked eighth on Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country had the second-highest number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Nigeria, with 620 slain during the reporting period from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021. Pakistan had the fourth-highest number of churches attacked or closed, with 183, and overall, reported Morning Star News.

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