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Christian in Pakistan Charged with ‘Blasphemy’ in Scheme Involving Islamist Party

This incident involves just one individual Christian, but it is not an isolated occurrence. Christians in Pakistan are all too frequently targeted with accusations of blasphemy that are often just a cover for attempts to settle personal grudges, appropriate their property, or achieve some other end. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have been used to victimize innumerable innocent people, both Christian and non-Christian.

“Christian in Pakistan Charged with ‘Blasphemy’ in Scheme Involving Islamist Party, Sources Say,” Morning Star News, August 10, 2018:

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A member of an Islamic extremist party in Pakistan has charged a Christian with blasphemy as part of a scheme by the accused’s ex-girlfriend and her brother, sources said.

Farhan Aziz, 26, was arrested under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy law in Muslim Town, Gujranwala District, Punjab Province, after the brother and sister allegedly misused the Christian’s phone to send text messages deemed defamatory to Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, according to Aziz’s brother, Amir Aziz.

He said that the Garjakh police in Gujranwala District, some 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Lahore, on Aug. 1 charged his brother with Section 295-C of the blasphemy law; a conviction would call for the death sentence. The charge was based on a complaint by Rafique Ahmed, a member of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik. The Islamist party was founded in honor of Mumtaz Qadri, who assassinated former Punjab governor and human rights advocate Salmaan Taseer.

The party has emerged as a mainstream political force, fielding almost as many candidates as established parties in July 25 general elections and surprisingly winning three provincial seats in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

Farhan Aziz had been in a relationship with Farhat Rashee, a Christian known as Tina, for several years before his father urged him to break up with her two years ago, Amir Aziz told Morning Star News. Her brother Sajjad had converted to Islam, and Aziz’s father had objected to Rashee’s family.

“It has now been revealed to us that Tina and her brother Sajjad had been fleecing money from Farhan over the years,” Amir Aziz said. “When my brother demanded that they return his money, the duo conspired with Rafique Ahmed and got him implicated in a fake blasphemy case by using a SIM card and cell phone that he had given to Tina some months ago on her demand.”

Ahmed claimed that Farhan Aziz, whose family belongs to the Presbyterian Church, “used to send obscene text messages to Tina” and did not stop despite being warned against it, according the First Information Report (FIR No. 3556/18). The complainant accused Farhan Aziz of sending a blasphemous text message to her on Feb. 28 and another one on March 23.

“Farhan again sent a text disrespecting Islam’s prophet Muhammad on July 29,” Ahmed alleged in the FIR. He also accused Farhan Aziz of “throwing a phone on the roof of Tina’s house on Aug. 1, 2018, in the presence of her father Shamaoon and brother Sajjad …Upon inspecting the phone, it was revealed that the same device had been used to send the blasphemous text messages.”

Ahmed urged police to arrest Farhan for allegedly “hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims.”

‘Farhan Fell for Trap’

Amir Aziz denied that his brother sent blasphemous texts.

“It’s true that Farhan gave the phone to Tina after she conveyed a message to him that she wanted to talk to him but didn’t have a phone,” he said. “He fell for her trap, hoping that he would be able to talk her into returning the money.”

Malafide is evident in this case because Ahmed, who filed the FIR, is not even related to the matter, he said.

“We fear that the Islamist organizations have some underlying agenda, due to which they are supporting the real perpetrators of those blasphemous texts – Tina and Sajjad,” Amir Aziz said.

Phone Misuse ‘Possible’

Garjakh Police Inspector Jawad Anwar told Morning Star News the police are including Tina and her brother in the investigation.

“We will investigate the case on merit,” Anwar said. “It is quite possible that Farhan’s phone was misused by the brother-sister duo to send blasphemous texts to themselves.”…

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