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BANGLADESH: 2,500 booked for clashes over alleged blasphemy

BANGLADESH: 2,500 booked for clashes over ‘blasphemy’

The violence was triggered by an alleged blasphemous post on Facebook insulting Prophet Muhammad

By Emran Hossain


UCA NEWS (05.06.2023) – Police in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka charged some 2,500, mostly unidentified people, on June 4 for street violence triggered by an alleged blasphemous post on Facebook.

Police also also charged a man named Mohammad Sohel under the country’s stringent Digital Security Act, for a post on social media that allegedly defamed Prophet Muhammad.

Police said they rescued Sohel from a mob of Muslims lynching him in the violence-hit Kafrul area of the city and hospitalized him at the state-run Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

Sohel told journalists that he knew nothing about the post and claimed that his Facebook profile was hacked.

“Sohel has been accused in the case. There is evidence indicating his involvement in insulting the prophet,” said Mohammad Abdul Baten, the officer in charge of Kafrul police station.

Baten said the case against more than 2,000 people included charges such as barring police from carrying out their duties, attacking police, and destroying public property.

At least 12 policemen were injured during a clash with local people, angered by the alleged social media post, said Baten.

The clash erupted after police rescued Sohel from the mob, who allegedly attacked him for making the post.

Baten did not clarify exactly what was written in the social media post.

In a third case, police named 28 people for attacking police. The identities of the men were not disclosed immediately.

Violence over alleged blasphemy involving Islam or its Prophet Muhammad occurs often in Muslim-majority Bangladesh.


The attacks often are politically motivated, observers and activists say, adding that the investigations are mostly manipulated by the police to get political opposition party leaders and activists in trouble.

On May 23, a cyber tribunal sentenced a Hindu man to 10 years in jail in Rangpur district, some 300 kilometers north of the capital, for insulting Islam through a social media post that triggered an attack by 20,000 Muslims on his village of Hindu minorities in 2017.

Reacting to the Hindu man’s conviction, leaders of Muslim groups said that the attackers of the Hindu village were spared, just as in other similar cases.

In September 2022, another Hindu man was jailed for seven years for insulting the Prophet Mohammad on social media.

Earlier in 2012 and 2016 Muslim mobs torched houses, temples, monasteries, and shops of Hindus and Buddhists over social media posts that were considered blasphemous.

In May, the US International Religious Freedom Report said that religious minorities face harassment in Bangladesh because of sweeping provisions to prevent blasphemy under the Digital Security Act of 2018.

Photo: A group of Muslims protesting against the blasphemous Facebook post in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka in this 2019 image. (Photo; AFP)

Further reading about FORB on HRWF website

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QATAR: In the shadow of the Football World Cup, the situation of Christians

In the shadow of the Football World Cup, a forgotten issue: the situation of Christians

By Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers

The European Times NewsThe European Times (08.12.2022) – https://bit.ly/3Y620Jc – In the shadow of the Football World Cup in Qatar, voices of non-Muslims have been heard and listened to at the European Parliament at a conference organized on 6 December by Dutch MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen under the title “Qatar: Addressing the limitations of religious freedom for Bahá’ís and Christians.”

This initiative of MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen, a member of the EP Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief, was a followup of the resolution of the European Parliament on the “Situation of human rights in the context of the FIFA football world cup in Qatar” adopted on 24 November last plenary session. On that occasion, the Parliament called “on the Qatari authorities to ensure respect for the human rights of all persons attending the 2022 World Cup, including international guests and those living in the country, including for their freedom of religion and belief.”

The situation of the Christian community was addressed by Anastasia Hartman from Open Doors. Here is a large excerpt of her intervention:

“When we speak about Qatar, there are two distinct groups of Christian believers in the country and, consequently, two sets of challenges and limitations of religious freedom.

First, the indigenous Qataris, converts from Islam to Christianity, who find it, if not impossible, extremely difficult to practice their faith as they may face prosecution, oftentimes marginalization and pressure from society and family due to their conversion.

Apostasy and blasphemy, criminal offences punishable by law

Ninety percent of Qataris are Sunni Muslims. According to Qatar’s interpretation and application of Sharia law, apostasy is a criminal offence punishable by death. The Penal Code also mentions as criminal offences “misinterpreting” the Quran, offending Islam or insulting any of the prophets.

It follows that Muslims in Qatar do not enjoy their inherent right and liberty to change their religion or belief, which is an important component of freedom of religion as enshrined in Art 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a binding treaty to which Qatar is a signatory. By its nature, in no circumstances, including laws, can this inherent right to change one’s religion be justifiably violated or broken.

But it is not only about the written law. Due to the huge influence of tribalism in the Qatari society, conversion from Islam is also seen as betraying one’s family and family’s honor.

Converts from Islam to Christianity and other religions are forced to hide their faith and keep their meetings secret to avoid dire consequences of either being prosecuted or suffer social stigma, police monitoring or intimidation.

Christian migrant workers, freedom of association and freedom of assembly

In Qatar, there is also a growing expatriate community of Christian believers (consisting primarily of foreign migrant workers), towards whom Qatar has been relatively lenient and has even provided land to build churches.

Expatriate Christians are permitted to worship within the confines of the Religious Complex located on government-owned land provided their community is registered but only nine Christian denominations have gained registration.

The Mesaymeer Religious Compound created by the father of the current Emir was a gesture by the Qatari government to promote interreligious dialogue and we note with praise that such a step was made.

There are, however, certain issues. First, this complex is strictly monitored, there are ID checks at the entrance and no Muslim background visitor can enter its premises and therefore attend non-Muslim worship. Second, the complex is too small to accommodate Qatar’s growing non-Muslim expatriate community.

At Open Doors, we know of about 100 Evangelical communities that used to gather in villas in pre-pandemic times but were “temporarily” closed by the government due to COVID-19 restrictions. They are still awaiting permission to reopen even though mosques and other establishments have been allowed to operate and the World Cup is hosting huge crowds of visitors from all over the world.

Unregistered religious groups are restricted from lawfully worshiping in private spaces. They have ended up in a registration limbo. It is extremely difficult to officially establish new communities or use non-designated buildings like hotels or event halls for religious gatherings.

We genuinely ask the Qatari government what they need to allow people to worship in other places?”


In her conclusions, Anastasia Hartman insisted on the need for a constructive dialogue with the Qatari authorities and prioritized a number of issues that should be advocated, such as:

– First, taking into account the limited capacity of the Religious Complex in Doha, to ask the Qatari government to grant freedom of worship to Christian communities, whether they are registered or not, and to permit free access to all Qataris and expats to Christian places of worship.

– Second, to ask the Qatari authorities to develop initiatives at the local level for educating the wider population on the value of religious tolerance and inter-religious harmony.

On the same lines, she called upon the EU to address its human rights concerns, including religious freedom, to Qatar through its diplomatic and political channels, to use all the opportunities for a meaningful engagement, an open and constructive dialogue.

She also recommended that MEPs ask written questions to the Commission and meet with Qatar’s ambassadors in their respective countries.

Conclusion of MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen

MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen concluded the event by saying “It was very impressive to hear the personal testimonies of church leaders that were expelled by Qatar for not hiding their Christian and Baha’i faith. This strengthens my belief that the EU should step up its activities for freedom of belief, also in Qatar. As EU member states do a lot of business with Qatar, the EU should not close its eyes for the lack of freedom for Christians and other non-Muslim religions. The EU should start a constructive dialogue with Qatar: anyone should be free to practice his religion and to express his beliefs.”


Photo 1: MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen chairing the conference on religious freedom in Qatar (Open Doors)

Photo 2 : MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen

Further reading about FORB in Qatar on HRWF website

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ALGERIA : Religious freedom to be scrutinized at the UN

Religious freedom to be scrutinized at the United Nations

HRWF (07.11.2022) – On 11 November, Algeria’s human rights report will be examined by the UN Human Rights Council in the framework of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The last review dates back to 8 May 2017. A few NGOs have submitted a report about religious freedom, such as ADF International and the European Center for Law and Justice (See their full submissions at https://bit.ly/3fD2zZL). See as well HRWF’s Database of FORB News (2020-2022) at https://hrwf.eu/newsletters/forb/.

Hereafter an excerpt from the report and recommendations of ADF International.

Legal Framework Relating to Freedom of Religion or Belief

  1. Algeria’s Constitution was formally amended in November 2020.5 Its Article 2 declares Islam as the country’s official religion.6
  2. Article 51 of the new Constitution recognizes freedom of opinion and of religious practice (cultes), however no longer formally protects freedom of conscience. Viewed in of Article 10, which prohibits practices “contrary to Islamic morals,”7 the constitutional guarantees afforded to freedom of religion are greatly limited. It also guarantees the protection of places of worship from political or ideological influences.8
  3. Article 144-bis-2 of the Algerian Penal Code criminalizes “anyone who offends the prophet (peace be upon him) and the messengers of God or denigrates the dogma or precepts of Islam”, with punishments of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 Algerian dinars (approximately $720).9
  4. Article 11 of Algeria’s 2006 Ordinance on the Conditions and Rules of Practice of Faiths other than Islam (the “Law 06-03”) punishes anyone who “incites, constrains, or utilizes means of seduction tending to convert a Muslim to another religion; or by using to this end establishments of teaching, education, health, social, culture, training…or any financial means.” It also criminalizes anyone who “makes, stores, or distributes printed documents or audio-visual productions or by any other aid or means, which has as its goal to shake the faith of a Muslim.” The penalty is up to five years in prison, and a 1,000,000 dinar fine (approximately $7,200).10
  5. Additionally, Law 06-03 stipulates that non-Muslim associations must obtain permission from the National Commission for Non-muslim Religious Groups to utilize a building for worship. Unregistered religious activities or groups are banned. The justifications given for rejecting applications are reportedly extremely vague, allowing for arbitrary denial of registration, effectively prohibiting the functioning of certain religious groups.11 Additionally, in practice, the Commission has failed to respond to any applications by Christians groups, forcing them to make unofficial and unreliable arrangements with local officials.12

Blasphemy and proselytism cases

  1. In 2018, Hamid Soudad, an Algerian Christian, was convicted to a five-year prison blasphemy sentence for circulating an allegedly offensive image against Islam on social media.13
  2. In February 2021, a court in Oran convicted pastor Rachid Seighir and one of his colleagues to two years imprisonment and a fine under Article 11 of Law 06-03 for “shaking the faith” of Muslims. This was due to the presence of Christian books in their bookstore.14 On appealing the judgement, in June 2021, this was reduced to a one-year suspended sentence and a lower fine. That same week, Rachid’s church, along with two others in the province, were closed for being unlicensed under Law 06-03.15
  3. In November 2020, an Ahmadi activist, Yacine Mebarki, was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of 50,000 Algerian dinars (approximately $385) in Khenchela for allegedly “insulting Islam” in a social media post, in which he had expressed criticism of a religious scholar.16
  4. In July 2021, officials in Ain Defla sentenced Foudhil Bahloul, a Christian convert, to six months in prison and a fine of 100,000 Algerian dinars (approximately $720). Bahloul was arrested in April 2021 after his house was searched and certain Christian materials were seized. During his trial, witnesses were not allowed to testify and Bahloul did not have legal representation. His sentence was for receiving an “unauthorized donation” of 200 euros from a friend in Germany, which officials claimed were funds received for his Christian beliefs.17
  5. In September 2021, it was reported that Christian activist and Muslim convert Slimane Bouhafs, an Algerian living in Tunisia with refugee status, was allegedly abducted and forcibly returned to Algeria.18 Family members witnessed the abduction of Bouhafs from Tunis by three men before he was imprisoned and appeared before a court in Algiers.19 The specific charges against him remain unknown but it has been reported that there are multiple charges related to so- called terrorist activity.20 Bouhafs spent almost two years in prison in Algeria after he was charged with blasphemy for a Facebook post in 2016 where he criticized Islam. In his trial in 2016, he was denied basic rights of due process and was not provided with a lawyer.21 During his time in prison, he faced aggression from other prisoners because he was known to be a Christian.22

Church closures and religious registration barriers

  1. Protestant Christian communities (including the Église Protestante d’Algérie, or the “EPA”) have been systematically targeted by restrictions to their freedom of worship, notably by prohibiting access to church buildings. Since January 2018, Algerian authorities have sealed 13 Protestant churches affiliated with the EPA, and 49 places of worship have been threatened with closure.23 These closures constitute direct violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief, which includes the right to worship in community with others, as well as freedom of association and assembly.
  2. In October 2019, members of a Protestant congregation of the Full Gospel Church of Tizi-Ouzou protested peacefully against the closure of their church, the largest Christian church in Algeria, which was sealed by police officers. The protesters were beaten by authorities while others were arrested. Two more churches were sealed the day after the Full Gospel Church was closed. The pastor of the Full Gospel Church had tried to comply with the authorities and the requirement to register under Law 06-03 of 2006, but the National Commission has completely ignored repeated requests to renew registration.24
  3. In addition, Protestant Christian churches in Algeria faced discriminatory restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From March 2020, Protestant churches were ordered to remain closed for “safety measures,” while mosques and Catholic churches were permitted to reopen.25
  4. The Ahmadi community in Algeria is not recognized by the government, and faces considerable pressure and harassment, including from state officials.26 In January of 2020, a group of Ahmadis were interrogated about their religious beliefs and authorities confiscated their passports before they were prosecuted for forming an illegal association. They were eventually acquitted of the charges against them but their passports were never returned.27


1 The Association of Religion Data Archives ‘Algeria’ https://www.thearda.com/internationalData/countries/Country_4_2.asp.
2 Open Doors International ‘Indonesia: Full Country Dossier’ (December 2021) World Watch List 2022 <https://odusa-media.com/2017/12/Full-Country-Dossier-Algeria-2022.pdf>, 6-7.
3 European Parliament ‘European Parliament Resolution of 28 November 2019 on the situation of freedoms in Algeria’ 2019/2927(RSP), https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2019-0072_EN.html, 4.
4 M. Rubio et al. ‘Letter to The Honorable Antony Blinken’ (9 July 2021) United States Senate https://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/d83757e6-53f5-4263-854c-836a74b330f5/3FA54880 3F4C8D00DEDED4C1D16FA16F.algeria-religious-freedom.pdf.
5 E. Goldstein ‘The Right That Vanished from Algeria’s Constitution Freedom of Belief Article Dropped — and All Pretense of Respecting It?’ (15 February 2021) Human Rights Watch, https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/02/15/right-vanished-algerias-constitution.
6 2021 Constitution of Algeria, https://www.joradp.dz/TRV/FConsti.pdf, art. 2.

7 Id., art. 10.
8 Id., art. 51.
9 Algerian Penal Code, https://www.equalrightstrust.org/sites/default/files/ertdocs//code_penal.pdf, art. 144-bis-2.
10 Human Rights Without Frontiers ‘Freedom of Religion or Belief Algeria’ (October 2020) https://hrwf.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/2020-FORB-Algeria.pdf, 2.
11 Human Rights Watch ‘Algeria: Crackdown on Protestant Faith, Churches Sealed; Worshipers Beaten’ (24 October 2019) https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/10/24/algeria-crackdown-protestant-faith. 12 Middle East Concern ‘Algeria’ https://www.meconcern.org/countries/algeria/.
13 International Christian Concern ‘Algerian Christian Prison Sentence Upheld’ (26 March 2021) https://www.persecution.org/2021/03/26/algerian-christian-prison-sentence-upheld/.
14 Middle East Concern ‘Algeria: Pastor faces prison term’ (2 March 2021) https://meconcern.org/2021/03/02/algeria-pastor-faces-prison-term/.

15 Morning Star News ‘Pastor in Algeria Receives Suspected Sentence and Fine’ (6 June 2021)https://morningstarnews.org/2021/06/pastor-in-algeria-receives-suspended-sentence-and-fine/.
16 Amnesty International ‘Algeria 2020’ (2021) https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/middle-east-and- north-africa/algeria/report-algeria/.
17 Amnesty International ‘Algeria: Quash conviction of Christian convert and overturn repressive law used to prosecute him’ (7 December 2021) https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/12/algeria- quash-conviction-of-christian-convert-and-overturn-repressive-law-used-to-prosecute-him/.
18 Amnesty International ‘Tunisia: authorities must come clean over abduction of Algerian activist’ (3 September 2021) https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/tunisia-authorities-must-come-clean- over-abduction-algerian-activist.
19 A. Bajec ‘Slimane Bouhafs: Inside Tunisia’s extradition of an Algerian political refugee’ (14 September 2021) The New Arab, https://english.alaraby.co.uk/analysis/tunisias-mysterious- extradition-algerian-dissident.
20 Amnesty International ‘Tunisia: authorities must come clean over abduction of Algerian activist’ (3 September 2021) https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/tunisia-authorities-must-come-clean- over-abduction-algerian-activist.
21 Human Rights Watch ‘Algeria: 3-Year Sentence for Insulting Islam’ (7 September 2016) https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/09/07/algeria-3-year-sentence-insulting-islam.
22 World Watch Monitor ‘‘Finally my father is home’ – Slimane Bouhafs released after 18 months in jail’ (3 April 2018) https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2018/04/finally-my-father-is-home-slimane- bouhafs-released-after-18-months-in-jail/.

23 Middle East Concern ‘Algeria: Another Church Closed by Government’ (14 January 2020)https://meconcern.org/2020/01/14/algeria-another-church-closed-by-government-2/.

24 J. Casper ‘Who Will Save Algeria’s Closed Churches: the UN, US, or Hirak?’ (22 February 2021) Christianity Today, https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/february/algeria-christians-closed- churches-united-nations-epa-hirak.html.

25 International Christian Concern ‘With No Churches Left to Close, Algerian Government Turns to Individuals’ (18 May 2021) https://persecution.org/2021/05/18/no-churches-left-close-algerian government-turns-individuals/.

26 A. Garcia ‘Algeria continues persecution of the Ahmadi Community’ (23 December 2020) https://atalayar.com/en/content/algeria-continues-persecution-ahmadi-community.

27 Amnesty International ‘Algeria 2020’ (2021) https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/middle-east-and- north-africa/algeria/report-algeria/.

26 A. Garcia ‘Algeria continues persecution of the Ahmadi Community’ (23 December 2020) https://atalayar.com/en/content/algeria-continues-persecution-ahmadi-community.
27 Amnesty International ‘Algeria 2020’ (2021) https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/middle-east-and- north-africa/algeria/report-algeria/.

Photo : istock.org

Further reading about FORB in Algeria on HRWF website

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NIGERIA : Christian woman on trial for blasphemy

Christian woman on trial for blasphemy in Northeast Nigeria

Charges based on a WhatsApp message she shared.

Morning Star News (05.10.2022) – https://bit.ly/3TUVQbU – A Christian woman in northeast Nigeria is on trial after being held incommunicado for more than four months on blasphemy charges for forwarding a WhatsApp message, sources said.


Rhoda Ya’u Jatau, 45, was arrested in Bauchi state in May after receiving a WhatsApp message from Ghana condemning the gruesome killing of Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu, a university student in Sokoto state also falsely accused of blaspheming Islam.


Jatau shared the message condemning Yakubu’s May 12 death with colleagues in Warji County, and Muslims who saw it accused her of blaphemy and sought to kill her. Security agents from the Department of State Services, Nigeria’s secret police, arrested her on May 20, and she was incarcerated when Muslim mobs stormed her house seeking to kill her, sources said.


“Ever since her arrest, Mrs. Jatau has been detained in prison over false accusations of blasphemy,” charged with “inciting public disturbance, exciting contempt of religious creed and cyber-stalking,” said her attorney, Joshua Nasara, in a press statement.


Efforts to secure bail for Jatau, a health worker with the Warji Local Government Area, have been “frustrated and denied by government authorities and leaders of Islamic groups in the state,” Nasara said.


The charges accuse Jatau, of Tudun Alheri, of posting a video that disparages Allah, Muhammad (the prophet of Islam), his parents and the entire Muslim community to a WhatApp group of the Primary Healthcare Authority of Warji Local Government Area, allegedly “with the intent to cause religious crisis,” he said.


The charges allege that she thus violated Sections 114, 210 of the Penal Code Law and Section 24 subsection 1b(i) of Cybercrime Prohibition Prevention Act 2015.


Jatau was held for two weeks before she was charged, and since then she has been held incommunicado in prison as authorities and Muslim leaders in the state delayed her trial, Nasara said.


An application for bail was filed on July 20, after she was held the legal maximum of two months without trial, but it was not assigned to a judge until July 26, and by then judges had gone on vacation, Nasara said.


“It was in August that the application was reassigned to a vacation judge who heard it for the first time on Aug. 11,” he said.


The Rev. Ishaku Dano of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Warji County said the blasphemy charges are false. Jatau shared the WhatsApp message only as a word of caution against further violence in northern Nigeria, where Muslim mobs were wreaking havoc, he said.


“Information we obtained from Mrs. Jatau shows that the WhatsApp message she received and shared in her group was for caution against violence and against the use of derogatory language in addressing other people’s faith, but that was not the interpretation by the Muslims,” Pastor Dano said. “And since the occurrence of the incident in May 2022, there have been campaigns by Muslims for Mrs. Jatau to be killed for blasphemy against Muhammad.”


Pastor Attacked


In the Birshi area of the city of Bauchi, gunmen on Sept. 16 broke into the home of Pastor Zakka Luka Magaji and shot a relative staying with him, sources said.


“Seven terrorists invaded my house and attacked me and my family,” Pastor Magaji said. “I was their target even though I don’t know their motives. The injured relation staying with me who was shot during the attack is getting better now.”


The chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Bauchi State Chapter, said the attack on Pastor Magaji typifies the challenges facing Christians in northern Nigeria.


“The government must do everything possible to protect Nigerians from such attacks by terrorists, as life is sacred and must be protected at all costs,” said the Rev. Abraham Damina Dimeus.


Ahmed Wakil, spokesman for the Bauchi State Police Command, confirmed that seven armed terrorists attacked the pastor’s home, that he was unhurt and that the relative was wounded.


“A 32-year-old man who is a member of Christian Life Church living with Pastor Zakka was injured in the process,” Wakil said. “The police personnel who were there on a rescue mission immediately took the injured victim and rushed him to Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH), Bauchi, for treatment of gunshot wounds.”


Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith last year (Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021) at 4,650, up from 3,530 the previous year, according to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List report. The number of kidnapped Christians was also highest in Nigeria, at more than 2,500, up from 990 the previous year, according to the WWL report.


Nigeria trailed only China in the number of churches attacked, with 470 cases, according to the report.


In the 2022 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to seventh place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 9 the previous year.

Photo: Rhoda Ya’u Jatau. (Facebook) – morningstarnews.org

Further reading about FORB in Nigeria on HRWF website

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PAKISTAN : Christian sanitary worker accused of blasphemy

Christian sanitary worker accused of blasphemy

By Nasir Saeed


PCN (11.10.2022) – https://bit.ly/3SQH2Lv – A 42-year-old Christian man in Pakistan has been accused of blasphemy.


James Masih has been a sanitary worker at the Tehsil Headquarter (THQ)  Hospital Chaubara, in Layyah, Punjab, for 12 years.


In addition to cleaning duties, his other responsibilities include tending to outpatients and assisting staff in the emergency ward.


On Wednesday 5th October, he was accused of blasphemy by a female Muslim patient.


According to Masih, the patient became difficult when he directed her to room number 11 for her check-up. She only went when a staff nurse came in and told her to go to this room.


After the patient completed her check-up, she accused Masih of blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad, which he denies.


A man filmed Masih’s encounter with the patient and posted the video to social media. It went viral and was picked up by news broadcaster Ehsas TV9.


“I knew the sensitivity of this news, it was a death warrant against me,” said Masih.


Masih and his family have been forced to leave their home and go into hiding out of fear for their life.


“I am very concerned about my safety and that of my family and don’t know how we can live here but one thing is sure, I have no future and if I am traced they are going to kill me and I don’t know what will happen with my family,” he said.


“This is a very sensitive matter, and in such cases, people become very emotional. They can kill me on the spot as normally happens in such cases. There are a number of examples where innocent people have been killed on one person’s accusations.”


Blasphemy is a serious crime in Pakistan and punishable by death.


Masih’s wife Shumaila said that the accusation is false and being used by the woman to settle a personal grudge.


The accuser is the widow of a rickshaw driver who used to take Masih’s children to school. Earlier this summer, they could only pay 3,600 rupees instead of the full 4,000 and promised to pay the remaining 400 rupees later. The rickshaw driver accepted this but later died before the outstanding amount was paid.


Shumaila says his widow then came to the house demanding 4,000 rupees. When Shumaila tried to explain that they only owed 400 rupees she became angry and started calling her a churra – a derogatory term for Christians.


Even though a senior staffer at the hospital reported the incident to the police who cleared Masih of wrongdoing, Shumaila says this has not satisfied her husband’s accuser and that she is determined to teach him a lesson.


“This time she has involved the media and is accusing my husband of committing blasphemy only to settle personal scores and she is accusing my husband of a crime he has never committed,” she said.


“Her false accusations have endangered our whole family’s lives and if it is not resolved we have no future. My children have already stopped going to school, we have no permanent place to live but are moving from one place to another.


“I am illiterate and don’t know how this matter will be resolved and how my husband can prove himself innocent.”


Napoleon Qayyum, Executive Director of Pak Centre for Law and Justice has said that is very unfortunate ads Christians continue to be the main target. People continue to use this law to settle their personal grudges it is necessary to put an end to the abuse of the blasphemy law.


Photo: pakchristiannews.com

Further reading about FORB in Pakistan on HRWF website

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