Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – To condemn vitiated inquiry, torture and inhumane treatment against young Christians Patras Masih and Sajid Masih; ask for concrete measures to stop the abuse of the blasphemy law, especially against religious minorities: these are the central themes of the protest organized yesterday, March 2, in Lahore by the "Pakistan Christian Action Committee" (PCAC), a body that collects and represents different Churches in Pakistan. As Fides learns, groups that promote human rights and civil society organizations joined the protest. Christian leaders such as Protestant Bishops Azad Marshall and Irfan Jamil were present; Fr. Qasir Feroz, in charge of the Communication Office for Catholic Bishops; Rev. Amjad Niamat of the Presbyterian Church and other leaders: all agreed to invite the government to control the violation of human rights and the Constitution of Pakistan.
The protesters are asking to set up an investigative team to look into the case of Patras Masih, the boy arrested for alleged blasphemy in the Shahdara neighborhood of Lahore, and to ascertain responsibility for the torture carried out by the police during interrogation. They asked to withdraw the charges against Sajid Masih and to investigate the sexual abuse that the police wanted to impose on the two young Christians during the interrogations (see Fides 20/2/2018 and 26/2/2018).
"The civil administration and police of Lahore - says a document issued by the PCAC at the end of the protest - should ensure the security of the Christian population, particularly in the area of Shahdara, so that all displaced families can return to their homes". In fact, Christians had fled from their homes, fearing mass violence. "It is urgent to take concrete measures to stop the abuse of the blasphemy law, especially against religious minorities. The government of Punjab should work actively to instill inter-religious peace and harmony within the national action plan", said the statement sent to Agenzia Fides. The document recalls the sentence issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan concerning the protection of religious minorities on 19 June 2014, requesting its implementation "in the letter and in the spirit". The "Pakistan Christian Action Committee" will prepare a report and submit it to Parliament and the Commission on Human Rights. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 3/3/2018)