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Pages of the Quran on the street, Christian parents arrested for blasphemy in Lahore

Despite the international outcry raised just a few weeks ago by the attacks on churches and Christian homes in Jaranwala, the abuse of the blasphemy law to target Christians does not stop in Pakistan. 

Among the new cases that continue to be added, a particularly unfortunate one occurred in recent days in Lahore, with two Christian parents arrested after some torn pages of the Koran were found on a terrace.

The episode occurred on September 8 in Chaudhry Colony: a Muslim passerby, Muhammad Tamoor, noticed several pages of the holy book of Islam falling from the roof of a house. 

He knocked on the door and insisted on entering the apartment where Shaukat and Kiran Masih, their daughters Sundas and Ruby, and their son Sabir, live together. 

In a pink backpack hidden behind the water tank he found other pages of the Koran and that was enough to convince him to immediately call the police and trigger a complaint under the infamous article 295-B of the Penal Code, the so-called anti-blasphemy law. 

The two parents were immediately arrested, holding them responsible for an action allegedly carried out by one of their children. 

In fact, the law provides for severe penalties, including life imprisonment, for any intentional act that desecrates, damages, desecrates, or uses a copy of the Holy Quran or extracts therefrom in a derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose. 

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Tension immediately increased in the area, with intimidating demonstrations by Islamist groups which aggravated the concern.

Another disturbing episode occurred a few hours ago in Tandlianwala, which is located in the Faisalabad district, the same as the attacks on houses and churches in Jaranwala. 

There have also been widespread threats of imminent action by Muslim extremists following an alleged blasphemy case. 

So on the night of September 6, the local Christian community abandoned their homes in search of protection. 

A situation that adds to that of Sargodha in Punjab, where in the last three months there have been as many as 5 blasphemy complaints lodged against Christians, in a campaign fomented by the extremist Muslim party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, which organizes protests to demand the arrest of the accused persons.

“The rampant abuse of blasphemy laws, combined with the increase in violence against Christians – comments Joseph Jansen, president of Voice for Justice – requires immediate action and intervention to guarantee the rights, safety, and security of all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs. All this raises serious concerns for the safety of religious minorities who increasingly find themselves facing unfounded accusations.”

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