In Pakistan, Christians & Muslims Unite to Seek Justice

Collaboration between Muslim religious leaders and Pakistani Christian activists has brought about the peaceful resolution of an alleged case of blasphemy against a poor woman, belonging to a religious minority. The incident occurred recently in Faisalabad, Punjab, the province with the largest Christian community.  The case has many similarities with that of Philip Masih and his family, who was indicted for no reason and escaped trial thanks to the groundbreaking contribution of Muslim leaders and police forces. This peaceful resolution prevented an escalation of tension, which often has exploded into attacks against entire communities. Here, the names of the protagonists have been changed to protect their identities. 

Just last week, 50 year-old Asia Masih moved into a rented house in Faisalabad. On her second day there, after cleaning the apartment, she burned some things in her yard. Two Muslim students, observing the scene, saw a few pages written in Arabic among the remains on fire and immediately thought they were pages of the Koran. A few minutes later they knocked on her door and accused her of committing the crime of blasphemy, which in Pakistan is punished with life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

Terrified by this accusation, Asia fled with her family and is hidden in a secret and safe place, where she still is today, for fear of retaliation.

The intervention of a Christian activist and the collaboration of a Muslim religious leader were fundamental to the peaceful resolution of the case. The former, a member of the Human Rights Defender Network, collected evidence of the innocence of the woman. In a second step he approached the Islamic leader, belonging to the city's Peace Committee, which offered its cooperation in analyzing the facts and exonerating the Christian family of the charges, proving its innocence in front of the entire city .

The Islamic expert's statement was key, according to whom the burned pages "are not from the Koran, but a school book in Arabic," and he has also called on Muslims to "properly evaluate the facts," before launching heavy accusations, because they end up only "fomenting hatred and division".

Iftikhar Ahmed, coordinator of the NGO South Asia Partnership Pakistan, appreciates those who "settle such delicate issues using wisdom." He adds that religious leaders "need to promote peace and harmony in their speeches, in order to create a more prosperous society". This is echoed by the Christian activist Naseem Anthony who calls for constitutional reforms and amendments to the laws, together with a culture that promotes tolerance towards other religions and faiths.

 

 

Source: asianews.it

 




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