ASIA/PAKISTAN - Young Muslim arrested for blasphemous acts against Christian community

Monday, 21 March 2022 blasphemy   human rights   religious minorities  

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - The police in Lahore have accused the young Muslim Muhammad Bilal of blasphemy. He is said to have desecrated the cross of the Pentecostal congregation "One in Christ Church" in Lahore through his actions. According to the First Information Report, the young man was arrested under Article 295/a of Pakistan's Penal Code for desecrating a place of worship with the intent to offend religious sensibilities. On the morning of March 16, around 10 a.m., Muhammad Bilal climbed the approximately 12 meter high cross that stands next to the church and tried to damage it. When this failed, he sat on it and shouted "Allah u Akbar" (God is great).
Akash Waqas, Christian founder of the 'One in Christ Church', tells Fides: "We heard the voice of the man screaming and we saw him desecrating the cross and trying to damage it. When the crowd gathered in the street, the young Muslim jumped down and injured himself. We held him and handed him over to the police. The police officers took him into custody and released him after a few hours. We faithful together with the Bishop asked for an adequate investigation into the incident, to find out what the attacker's intentions were and why he wanted to damage the Christian place of worship. The police again stopped and charged him". Ilyas Samuel, spokesman for the Pakistani human rights organization Voice for Justice, told Fides: "I hope that justice will be done in this case. We call on the Pakistani government to protect religious minorities and their places of worship by people who incite religious hatred. We Christians are peaceful people and we have done nothing to the young man who desecrated the Church and the Cross. We respect the law and the principles of the rule of law". (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 21/3/2022)