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Pakistan: Christian Arrested, Tortured on Blasphemy Charges

Pakistan is home to over two million Christians. A small number of these Christians are Orthodox. Orthodox Christians in Pakistan are under the spiritual jurisdiction of the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Singapore and South Asia, which comprises all the Orthodox Communities, Parishes, Foundations and Philanthropic Projects in Singapore, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Brunei, Timor, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, as well as Pakistan.

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

“Christian in Pakistan Arrested, Tortured on Blasphemy Charges,” Morning Star News, March 21, 2022:

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Authorities in Pakistan beat and arrested a Christian on Tuesday (March 16) for allegedly making blasphemous comments on social media and later tortured him into confessing guilt, sources said.

Cybercrime officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Gujranwala Circle raided the Lahore home of Fansan Shahid, 54, shortly after midnight and took him into custody on allegations that he had blasphemed Muhammad, Islam’s prophet, in a comment on Facebook in 2019, said his wife, Safia Shahid.

“When my husband opened the gate, over a dozen policemen rushed inside and started beating him up,” Shahid said. “My two children and I screamed and cried as they tortured Shahid and searched the rooms.”

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.

“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.

Her husband would never post such comments as he was fully aware of the consequences, often reminding their 24-year-old daughter and 22-year-old son to refrain from discussing religion with Muslims, she said.

“His late father was a pastor affiliated with the Full Gospel Assemblies, and Fansan maintained good relations with his Muslim coworkers, and a majority of his friends were also Muslim,” she added.

Due to retire as a purchase officer at Pakistan Railways in eight years, Fansan Shahid was the sole breadwinner for the family, and to supplement his income he was also involved in property dealings with some Muslim friends, she said.

“He had good relations with everyone, and I can’t recall him mentioning any threat or pressure on him,” Safia Shahid 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 chance of bail, she said she was extremely worried about how her family would cope….

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 Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021. Pakistan had the fourth-highest number of churches attacked or closed, with 183, and overall.

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