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Lahore: Pakistan Ulema Council exonerates six Christians accused of blasphemy

No case registered against workers

SAMAA | - Posted: Nov 28, 2020 | Last Updated: 7 months ago
Editing & Writing | Muzhira Amin
Posted: Nov 28, 2020 | Last Updated: 7 months ago

Pakistani Christians shout slogans in protest against the killing of Christian couple, in Islamabad on November 5, 2014. An enraged Muslim mob beat a Christian couple to death in Pakistan and burnt their bodies in the brick kiln where they worked for allegedly desecrating a Koran, police said. AFP PHOTO/Farooq NAEEM (Photo by FAROOQ NAEEM / AFP)

The Pakistan Muttahida Ulema Council exonerated six Christian workers accused of blasphemy in Lahore on Saturday.

According to Special Representative of the Prime Minister on Religious Harmony and All Pakistan Ulema Council chief Tahir Ashrafi, the men are sanitary workers. “A police report was submitted against them for throwing pamphlets with Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) name on it in the bin,” he told SAMAA Digital.

The incident took place three days ago. The matter was sent to the Punjab Muttahida Ulema Board. “The board, in its investigation, unanimously concluded that the men were illiterate and were, therefore, innocent,” Ashrafi confirmed.

Following this, an FIR was not registered. The ulema said that the workers have been safely sent back home.

“This incident is an example for people to stop the misuse of the blasphemy law in the country,” Ashrafi explained, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s orders were to make sure no innocent person is ever put behind bars.

Blasphemy accusations in Pakistan

Earlier this month, a security guard shot and killed a bank manager in Punjab after accusing him of blasphemy. The victim, identified as Malik Imran Hanif, was the manager of a bank in Khushab’s Quaidabad tehsil.

According to Khushab District Police Officer Tariq Wilayat, the security guard Nawaz claimed that he shot Hanif because he was an Ahmadi and had blasphemed against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The bank manager’s uncle, however, told SAMAA TV that Nawaz had killed Hanif over personal grievances and was now using blasphemy charges to protect himself.

In July, A 57-year-old Ahmadi man and US citizen Tahir Ahmed Naseem were shot dead by a teenager in a Peshawar court during his hearing on blasphemy charges. Naseem had allegedly “proclaimed prophethood” in 2018.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom wrote in its 2019 report that at least 80 people are imprisoned in Pakistan jails for blasphemy and at least half of them are facing a life or death sentence. According to Al-Jazeera, at least 77 people have been killed in the country over blasphemy accusations since 1990.

Blasphemy cases elicit strong emotion in Pakistan. People often emerge to support men who kill over it. Qibla Ayaz, the chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, finds that this happens because people do not know the teachings of Islam on the matter. The Council of Islamic Ideology is a constitutional body that advises lawmakers whether a certain law is repugnant to Islam.

“In Islam, no one can declare any person an infidel,” Qibla Ayaz told SAMAA Digital. In fact, clerics of all sects agreed upon this in January 2018 at the Paigham-e-Pakistan conference in Islamabad. “It is totally unacceptable in Islam for a certain group to take the law into its own hands, declare people infidels, start killing them in the name of commanding good and forbidding from evil.”

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