X
UCA News

Pakistan

THREE CHRISTIANS ON TRIAL FOR BLASPHEMY SHOT AT BUS STOP, ONE DIES

Updated: April 11, 1994 05:00 PM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Share this article :

A Christian on trial under Pakistan´s blasphemy law was killed and two Christian co-defendants, one 13, injured by three motorcyclists who shot them in broad daylight at a bus stop here.

A fourth Christian was also wounded in the incident.

Manzoor Masih, 35, died in the shooting that occurred April 5 as he, Rehmat Masih, 37, and Salamat Masih, 13, all related, were returning from court. The unidentified assailants fled and no arrests have been made yet.

The three Masihs, Christians from a village in Gujranwala district 80 kilometers from Lahore, were arrested in May 1993 for allegedly writing defamatory remarks about Prophet Mohammad on the wall of the local mosque.

However, Manzoor and Salamat Masih are reportedly illiterate, and the original accusation, taken up later by a local "maulvi" (Muslim religious leader), came from an 8-year-old boy that Salamat had a fight with.

Due to these and other suspicious circumstances and Salamat Masih´s age, the case aroused national and international attention. After being jailed for over five months, Salamat was released on bail in late 1993.

Manzoor and Rehmat Masih appeared before the Lahore High Court Jan. 12 to apply for bail and request their cases be transferred to Lahore, the Punjab provincial capital, for security purposes. Both requests were granted.

At previous local hearings, militant Muslim fundamentalists packed the court, intimidating lawyers and witnesses.

The three accused came from Gujranwala to Lahore, 288 kilometers southeast of Islamabad, to appear in District and Session court beginning April 4.

After court proceedings April 5, they were waiting at a bus stop when three cyclists opened fire on them with automatic weapons.

Manzoor Masih died on the spot. Salamat, Rehmat Masih and another Christian, John Joseph, were all wounded and admitted to the hospital.

Thousands of Christians protested in the streets April 7. Processionists marched down Mall Road, Lahore´s main thoroughfare, and staged a sit-in in front of the provincial governor´s house.

They presented a memorandum to the governor through the assistant district commissioner demanding the immediate arrest and exemplary punishment of the culprits involved in the murder of Manzoor Masih.

Traffic remained blocked for several hours and a heavy police contingent accompanied the protesters to avoid incidents.

The procession was led by Julius Salik, a Catholic national assemblyman and parliamentary secretary for minority affairs; Asma Jehangir, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan; Mubashir Hassan, a former finance minister; and officials of several Christian organizations.

Manzoor Masih was buried later in the day at the Jail Road Cemetery.

A statement condemning the attack and murder was released by Dominican Father James Channan, prominent in Christian-Muslim dialogue; Fathers Francis Nadeem, president, and Inayat Bernard, general secretary, of the Pakistan Catholic Press Association; and Church of Pakistan deputy moderator Bishop Samuel Azariah of Raiwind.

They demanded that the government immediately arrest and punish the culprits and repeal the blasphemy law, which, they charged, has initiated genocide against Christians and is a serious threat to the national integrity.

Manzoor Masih is not the first Christian accused under the law to be killed.

END

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
 
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia