11 Sep Pakistan court clear 115 people accused of burning Christians’ houses
A Pakistani anti-terrorism court has cleared 115 people of being involved in the torching of Christians’ houses in Joseph Colony, Lahore in 2013.
The suspects who were already on bail were acquitted because of a lack of evidence.
After a rumour that a Christian Sawan Masih had blasphemed, a mob of 3000 Muslims attacked and burnt the Christian colony. Although no one was killed in the incident, there was widespread damage to property, and according to reports 125 houses were burnt. Two churches and and dozens of Bibles were also desecrated in the attack.
It is said that state witnesses could not identify the accused and their statements were also contradictory. Sawan Masih told police after his arrest that the real reason for the blasphemy allegation was a property dispute between him and a friend who spread the rumour.
Sawan Masih is now in prison and on death row, CLAAS has submitted an appeal on his behalf and it’s waiting for a hearing date to be fixed.
Blasphemy laws are largely being misused against minorities in Pakistan who consider them law the main reason of their persecution. According to the statement of senator Farhatullah Baber, the Senate committee of Human Rights is discussing how to stop the continuous misuse of the blasphemy law, but at the same time the Finance minister has said there would be no change in the blasphemy law, saying that Muslims could succeed in this life and hereafter by following the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Nasir Saeed Director CLAAS-UK said the acquittal is a very unfortunate situation and such a decision cannot be accepted.
He added: “Thousands of people were involved in the attack and their videos and hateful statements/ are still available on social media. If this is not enough for the courts or for the police to identify them, then nothing can be done but this is a clear example of injustice and the treatment of Christians in Pakistan.”
January 29, 2017