International Christian Concern Criticises SMS Blasphemy Charge

The US-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern has criticised the arrest of a Pakistani Christian from Karachi for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages to Muslims.

|TOP|Qamar David was arrested last week after allegedly sending the text messages as revenge for a spate of attacks on churches by extremist Muslims in the area last month.

David was arrested by the police and charged under sections 295/A and C of the Pakistan Penal Code, prompting appeals for his release from human rights activists who warn that too many people have died in prison without trial.

International Christian Concern said in their news release that the episode “gives us an idea of how the law in Pakistan can be interpreted to fit the desires of the government thus causing Christians to be blamed for things they were not guilty of and imprisoned”.

Police refused to show the alleged text messages, simply saying that they were blasphemous.

|AD|“But if he has to be charged, the incriminating text should be made public,” said ICC. “Otherwise, David has been arrested without evidence.”

The chairman of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), Shahbaz Bhatti, said that “once more, the law is being misused”.

“The sections of the penal code fail to define blasphemy; anyone can interpret them in accordance with his mentality and understanding,” said Bhatti.

Although no one has yet been sentenced to death for blasphemy, ICC is particularly alarmed over David’s arrest due to several “deaths from natural causes” in prisons or murders by extremists that been left uninvestigated.

These include 23-year-old Javed Anjum, who died in May 2004 from wounds he received during five days of torture at the hands of Muslim extremists who wanted to force him to convert to Islam.

Suspicious prison deaths include that of Tahir Iqbal in 1992, a Christian convert from Islam who died in jail from poisoning, and 80-year-old Bantu Masih, also in 1992, who was stabbed and killed with police officers present.

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