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Pakistan: A vendor being hunted on Blasphemy charges

A vendor being hunted on Blasphemy charges

by Xavier Patras William
November 4, 2013

Arif Masih and Tariq Masih own a fireworks stall in Thatta Faqirullah Wazirabad have been accused of 295/B. A FIR number 533/13 has been registered against them at the Saddar Police Station Wazirabad.

Khurram Shahzad a resident of Thatta Faqirullah claims that his friend Muhammad Zahid was getting married on 27th October, they bought the fireworks from Arif and Tariq Masih, they started the fireworks, a few of them didn’t go off, so they opened them up and were amazed to see that they contained the pieces of Quran.

This made them furious that how can someone use the pages of the Quran in the fireworks, and the fact that a Christian tore the pages of the Quran to use in the fireworks material.

The discovery shocked the people celebrating the wedding; they filed an official complaint at the local police station and ransacked the fireworks stall owned by the Christians.

The police registered a FIR on Wednesday and took the material discovered in custody and started investigating the matter, to calm down the crowd the police assured that the venders will be arrested.

Taqiq Masih the owner of the stall said, "We don't manufacture the fireworks, we buy them from the factories around Gujranwala, we are unaware of the material they use. Besides these factories where this material is prepared is owned by the Muslims, no Christian works there. We have not even touched the Quran, using the pages of the Quran is beyond imagination for us as we are aware of the consequences we will have to face. We never open the material; we buy it and sell it on our stall."

But the locals at Thatta Faqirullah seem reluctant to believe what Masih said, they insist the police to arrest Masih and set an example for all who dare to insult Islam. They warned the police to immediately arrest Arif Masih and Tariq Masih, if not arrested they will hunt them down and kill them.

Blasphemy laws in Pakistan have been used to target the minorities and settle personal vendettas, last month a Christian was slaughtered in Karachi on professional rivalry and his family was threatened to convert to Islam.

In the past the violent mob had burned a mentally unstable man alive outside a police station in Bahawalpur. People are afraid to debate on the misuse of the blasphemy laws.

Arif Masih and Tariq Masih have been forced to leave the area along with their families fearing that they will be extra judicially killed, in Pakistan even being accused of Blasphemy is equivalent to the sentence itself.

Human Rights organizations Life For All Pakistan has condemned the incident and demanded a judicial inquiry and demanded protection for the Christian families in the area.

LFA Pakistan issued a statement: “This is a sad incident that the marginalized are being victimized, a poor vendor is being targeted for something he has not done, the violent and aggressive mobs are hunting them down to kill them. For how long will the minorities have to face the abuse of the law? The concerned authorities should act responsibly and ensure that the law and order situation remains in control and no innocent has to suffer. Last month a man was slaughtered in Karachi and the police remained silent, why is such barbarianism being allowed? How many innocent lives will be sacrificed on the name of religion? Steps need to be taken to ensure that the Blasphemy laws are not misused in Pakistan."

ENDS

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