LAHORE, Pakistan, May 6 (CDN) — Police in Chichawatni, Sahiwal district have charged a mentally ill Christian with “injuring religious feelings” under Pakistan’s widely condemned blasphemy laws.
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. Son of Iqbal Masih in Shakir Colony, Chichawatni Bypass, 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 said.
A Muslim neighbor, Rana Sardar, had told Masih’s family that the police should be called so that he could be taken into custody, “otherwise he would be killed by the Muslim clerics who were getting more charged up with every passing moment,” a relative said. With a large number of people gathered at the house when police arrived, Babar Masih was handed over from another gate and immediately put into a police van.
When the clerics saw Masih being put into the police van, they rushed toward it and tried to take hold of him. They continued chasing after the vehicle as it carried him away, giving the three families related to Masih’s immediate family the opportunity to flee from their homes, relatives said. At press time they were still in hiding.
Masih’s brother, Amjad Masih, said that after fleeing from their home, he talked with neighbors who told him that several other neighbors had been pressured by Muslim clerics to go to the police station to provide testimony against the accused.
“These neighbors were of the opinion that they could not refuse to give evidence after the Muslim clerics forced them, telling them that they were coming out of the mosque after prayer when Babar Masih used abusive language against the prophet Muhammad,” Amjad Masih said. “They told me, ‘It is such a sensitive matter that we could not refuse.’” (Source)