ASIA/PAKISTAN - Threats to a Christian NGO that defends cases of "digital blasphemy"

Saturday, 8 October 2016 blasphemy   islam   justice   civil society   religious minorities   social communications   social network  

The Voice

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) The Pakistani NGO Christian-inspired "The Voice", led by lawyer Christian Aneeqa Maria Anthony has received threats in the course of legal proceedings related to a case of blasphemy. This is the case of Nabeel Masih, whose hearing was scheduled for October 8, which was postponed. The sixteen year old Christian Nabeel Masih was denounced by some peers who accused him of having shared a photo on the social network Facebook considered pejorative of "Khana-e-Kaaba", the building at the center of the mosque in Mecca, a holy place to Islam.
The incident occurred in a village near Bhai Pheru, in Kasur district in Punjab province.
As reported to Fides by "the Voice" team, once they arrived at the court, along with relatives of the accused, they realized that the place of the hearing was not sure, because of the presence of at least 80 people who showed hatred and resentment towards the family. The group began to protest and threaten relatives and lawyers and therefore also lawyer Anthony. They all accused Nabeel of blasphemy and even some lawyers said that "one should not defend a criminal blasphemer". They then said they would kill Nabeel, "the author of a heinous crime", saying they wanted to "burn all the infidels of his family".
The NGO says "it does not have security officers to ensure the protection of its members and assisted family". Lawyer Anthony told Fides: "Nabeel is innocent: the accusation against him has not yet been proven. It is Nabeel or any other defendant’s fundamental right to have legal assistance in the course of a judicial proceeding or ask for bail. In a state of law, every defendant is given legal guarantees". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 08/10/2016)