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Pakistan: Alarming Rise in Blasphemy Accusations Against Christian Community In Past Three Months

Pakistan’ blasphemy laws frequently victimize Christians and other religious minorities. Christians comprise only 1.2% of the nation’s population, but were 3.5% of those who were accused of committing blasphemy in 2020. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are frequently manipulated and misused in order to victimize Christians and other religious minorities, and leave them with no recourse, since all too often this happens with the approval of the relevant authorities.

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, calls upon the international human rights community to bring pressure upon the government of Pakistan to repeal these unjust laws, and allow the Orthodox Christians, Christians of other traditions, and people of all religions to practice their faiths in peace and live in peace.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan, see here.

“ICC Documents Alarming Rise in Blasphemy Accusations Against Pakistan’s Christian Community In Past Three Months,” International Christian Concern, March 4, 2021:

03/04/2021 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In Pakistan, false accusations of blasphemy are widespread and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. Charges are highly inflammatory and can spark mob lynching, vigilante murders, and mass protests.

In many cases, blasphemy accusations have their roots in personal, professional, or business disputes where the false allegations are the final trump card for a member of Pakistan’s majority community. According to the most recent data available, religious minorities, who suffer greatly under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, account for 54% of all blasphemy accusations, despite making up just 3.6% of the population.

In the last three months, International Christian Concern (ICC) has documented an alarming rise in blasphemy accusations against Pakistan’s Christian community. At least 9 Christians, including two women and seven men, have been accused of committing blasphemy against Islam, its holy book, its holy prophet, or its sacred personages between December 2020 to February 2021.

On December 14, 2020, Arshad Masih, a 32-year-old Christian, was stabbed to death by Atif Ali, his Muslim coworker in Sheikhupura. Masih’s wife reported that Ali murdered her husband due to a promotion Masih received and his refusal to convert to Islam.

When police arrested Ali, he claimed that he killed Masih because he had blasphemed. When he was arrested, Ali asked the arresting officers if he could wash his hands as “he did not want the blood of a blasphemer on his hands anymore.”

On December 25, 2020, three Christians, including Azeem Mehmood, Abbas Gulshan, and Irfan Saleem, were falsely accused of committing blasphemy in the Narowal district. However, after an investigation by police, the three Christians were declared to be innocent.

On December 27, 2020, Pastor Raja Waris was arrested for committing blasphemy in Lahore. Pastor Waris was accused of posting an insulting image against Islam to social media. Hundreds of Christian families were forced to flee from their homes after a mob threatened to set fire to the Christian neighborhood where Pastor Waris resided.

On January 28, 2021, Tabitha Nazir Gill, a Christian nurse, was falsely accused of committing blasphemy while working at a hospital in Karachi. According to a local ICC source, the head nurse at Sobhraj Maternity Hospital issued orders that medical staff may not receive tips or deal with patients’ money. Gill reportedly reminded a Muslim coworker of these orders when she saw the coworker collect money from a patient.

In response, the Muslim coworker falsely accused Gill of committing blasphemy and incited violence against her colleague. Videos of hospital staff beating Gill surfaced on social media, and Gill was reportedly tied up with ropes, tortured, and locked in a room before being taken into police custody.

Police released Gill, handing her over to her family after a short investigation did not find any evidence that Gill had committed blasphemy. Gill and her family have since moved to an unknown location, fearing vigilante violence….

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