Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Blasphemy Appeal for Pakistani Christian Younis Masih has been adjourned until February

He was sentenced to death for asking Muslims to 'turn down the music'

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

Younis Masih
LAHORE, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Younis Masih, a Pakistani Christian, who was sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy - he had asked some Muslims to "turn down the music" of a Muslim religious song -- and has been suffering in prison for more than seven years, has had his appeal against the death sentence adjourned until February.

Mr. Masih, who suffered a serious heart attack on January 8, 2013, was in court on January 23, 2013, and one eye-witness, Mr. Sardar Mushtaq Gill, an advocate with the Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD) team later told Wilson Chowdhry of the British Christian Pakistani Association, about the intimidation that occurred in the courtroom during the hearing.
"When the call for arguments was made, there were about 40 Muslims, who were present wearing black turbans, and were makings gestures and comments with intent to cause fear and apprehension," he said.

"Feeling the pressure, Naeem Shakar, Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, requested a non-public trial in the Court Chamber. The presiding judge however encouraged the defense and prosecution by saying, 'There is no need to be scared, we will discuss this case in an open court.'

"The state lawyer then requested an adjournment as he alleged that he had not yet received the case file. Justice Najam-Ul-Hasan ordered for the date for another hearing to be fixed by early February."

The appeal was due to be conducted by the Legal Aid for Destitute and Settlement (LADS) lawyers who had previously filed their appeal following the death sentence handed down to Mr. Masih.

According to a report at http://www.persecution.in, Younis Masih, then 27 years old, a resident of Chungi Amer Sidhu, Lahore, was arrested under the charges of blasphemy on September 10, 2005.

An angry mob of 400 protestors armed with sticks and bricks attacked and ransacked Christian houses, broke down the doors and even stoned the local churches, where they threw Bibles on to the floor. Younis Masih was also brutally tortured and his wife, Meena was beaten when she came to save her husband. More than 100 Christian families then fled the Chungi Amer Sidhu area to save their lives.

On Saturday night, September 9, 2005, Younis Masih went to the house of Baba Chaby, where a mid-night Qawali (Muslim religious song) was held and musicians were singing very loudly. Younis asked them not to sing so loudly because his nephew had died and he claimed it was also disturbing people and stopping them from sleeping.

Baba Chaby apparently refused to turn down the music. When Younis Masih reiterated his request, the Muslim men in attendance became angry and abused him for asking (them) to turn down the volume. As a result, Younis Masih went home.

The next day, the Muslim men who had been listening to the music discussed the issue with local Muslim fellows, exaggerating and manipulating the facts and incited them.

Some of those people who had been in the house listening to the music were looking for Younis Masih. They found him playing billiards, and thrashed him with sticks and beat him till he fell on the ground and became unconscious. His wife attempted to intervene she was also badly beaten, and her clothes were torn to shreds.

The attackers left Younis Masih, thinking he was dead. She took him home with the help of Younis' cousin Noble Masih. When Younis Masih regained consciousness, she and Noble Masih went with Younis to the police station to register a complaint. There they told the story to the SHO of the factory area police station who, promised to investigate the incident.

Meanwhile, announcements were made in area mosques, instigating the local Muslims to attack and burn Christian's houses saying that a Christian man Younis Masih committed blasphemy and uttered derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet, Mohammad.

After hearing that, about 400 protesters carrying sticks attacked the houses where Christian lived. Because of this, more than 100 Christian families have fled the area to save their lives This angry mob surrounded factory area police station and demanded the case to be registered against Younis Masih and refused to leave until they were shown copy of First Information Report (FIR).

To appease the angry mob, police registered a blasphemy case against Younis Masih under section 295C with FIR number 723/2005 at factory area police station Lahore on September 10, 2005, at 7:30 pm and showed a copy of FIR for dispersing the mob.

Police then arrested Younis Masih and his cousin Noble Masih, who were already sitting in the police station to lodge their complaint with police against the attack. The police took Younis Masih and his cousin into custody and tortured them brutally. Younis Masih was subsequently sent to Kot Lakhpat jail, Lahore.

Younis Masih was later sentenced to death and given a huge fine, by additional and session judge Lahore on dated May 30, 2007 and his defense counsel Mr. Pervaiz Aslam Choudary conducted his jail trial due to security reasons. The court also directed the police to provide security to the lawyer because he had been receiving threats during the trial.

LEAD is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. As followers of Jesus, we are motivated by God's love to serve all people regardless of race, religion, gender or ethnicity.

Now the British Christian Pakistani Association is planning a protest in London's Trafalgar Square against the "intolerance and discrimination of Pakistani minorities on 2nd March 2, 2013. (See http://britishpakistanichristian.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/2nd-march-2013-protest-against.html)

Said Wilson Chowdhry "The Blasphemy Laws of Pakistan that have created second class citizenship, for non-Muslims living in Pakistan. Section 295b&c and 298a of the Pakistan Penal Code have frequently been used as a tool to oppress people of faith minorities and to enact retribution for personal vendettas on the vulnerable."

Note from Dan Wooding: This is yet another shocking case of the Pakistan blasphemy laws being misued to gain revenge in what appears to be a rather petty dispute of the loudness of some music. Please pray that Younis Masih, will be freed by the court in February.

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