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Two Christian Pakistanis detained for alleged blasphemy
Two Christians in Pakistan were picked up by police and detained last Friday night for alleged violation of the country’s infamous blasphemy law.
Mushtaq Gill, 60, and his son, Farrukh Mustaq Gill were picked up from the family home in Gujranwala city, some 28 miles away from Lahore, after a group of Muslims surrounded the house and tried to burn it, The International Herald Tribune said.
The police took the two men into “protective custody” allegedly to avert violence, according to The International Herald Tribune. However, Scoop Independent News said the two men were detained.
Gujranwala lies in an area which is considered to be the hub of Islamic radicals in Pakistan, Scoop Independent News said. It has been the site of previous burning of Christian churches, occupation of their properties, false accusations of the blasphemy law and murdering of Christians.
Because of this hundreds of Christians have fled the area for fear of their safety, including the family of Phillip Dutt, a local pastor, according to The International Herald Tribune.
Last Friday after prayers Muslim activists from Azizabad Colony “tried to incite a mob attack” against the victims’ home by making inflammatory announcements on the loudspeakers of mosques, The International Herald Tribune said.
Led by clerics, a group of Muslim extremists surrounded the house of the victims with intent to set it on fire. According to The International Herald Tribune, police picked up the two men to avert violence.
Accusations against the two men go three months back when some Muslims claimed they had found a package of burnt pages of the Quran outside of the Gill home, along their postal address, The International Herald Tribune reported.
Included in the package was a statement allegedly from the Gills in which they “admitted” committing several blasphemous acts and planned to do more because no one has “enough guts to prevent them from doing so,” The International Herald Tribune said.
Dutt told The International Herald Tribune that he knows both men well and said they were “clearly being framed by someone who wanted to get even in some unrelated matter or out of sheer jealousy.”
It is not yet certain whether the Gills were victimized because of a personal score or as a reaction to the recent burning of the Quran by a cult in Florida. In recent weeks incidents of persecution of Christians in Pakistan were blamed on the Quran burning, Scoop Independent News said.
Mushtaq Gill is vice principal of the Christian Technical Training Center which is with the Presbyterian theological seminary. According to Scoop Independent News he is an elder with his church.
Farrukh is an MBA degree holder who works at the local National Bank branch as a welfare officer, according to The International Herald Tribune.
The family of the victims called on the Masihi Foundation for legal help. The Foundation is known for assisting in the legal defense of Christians, including the defense of Asia Bibi, the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy, Scoop Independent News said.
Haroon Barkat Masih, chairman of the Foundation, told Scoop Independent News, “The government has failed to control the growing extremism, protect the properties and lives of the Christians in Pakistan. In the past few weeks we have witnessed the growing hatred towards the Christians. The Christians across Pakistan have been condemning the desecration of the Quran, but still they are targeted. If they condemn the desecration of the bible, still they face brutality. Without confirming the facts, the Christians are assaulted and subjected to the worst torture in the name of the blasphemy law.”