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Pakistan: Christian Jailed for Stepping on Papers in Street

For information about the Orthodox Mission in Pakistan, see here.

“Christian in Pakistan Jailed for Stepping on Papers in Street,” Morning Star News, June 18, 2024:

LAHOREPakistan (Christian Daily InternationalMorning Star News) – A Catholic has been jailed under blasphemy charges since April 27 in Lahore, Pakistan for inadvertently stepping out of his rickshaw onto some papers said to be pages of the Quran, sources said.

Dennis Albert, a 35-year-old rickshaw driver, was booked under one section of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison (Section 295-A, hurting religious sentiments), and another that mandates life in prison (Section 295-B, defiling the Quran).

Shadman Police in Lahore arrested him on the complaint of Mubeen Ilyas, a Muslim passerby who alleged he saw Albert standing on some pages barefoot near a rickshaw, and that after closely looking at them, he found that they were Islamic scriptures.

Albert’s brother, Imran Albert, said the accused had dropped a passenger on Jail Road and was waiting for a new customer.

“My brother says that his shoes were in the rickshaw, and when he stepped out of his three-wheeler to wait for a new customer, he inadvertently stepped on some pieces of paper on the roadside,” Imran Albert told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. “Dennis didn’t now [sic] that the pages were Islamic scripture.”

Dennis Albert was just protecting his feet from the heat of the road, he said. Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, intent must be proven for conviction.

Imran Albert said that Ilyas and other Muslims assaulted him even as he pleaded his innocence.

“Dennis has studied till 10th grade, but he had no clue that the pages he was standing on had religious value,” Imran Albert said. “He’s a simple rickshaw driver earning an honorable livelihood for himself. He did not have any intention of hurting religious sentiments of any person or community.”

Imran Albert said that by the time he reached the police station, his brother had already been sent to jail.

“Police arrested him around 11 a.m., and he was sent to jail after a couple of hours on judicial remand,” he said. Asad Jamal, Dennis Albert’s attorney, said the police had not yet submitted the charge-sheet against the impoverished rickshaw driver.

“The charges are ridiculous to say the least,” said Jamal, appointed by Lahore-based Christian advocacy group the Cecil and Iris Foundation to defend Dennis Albert….

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