Islamic Cleric Arrested in Pakistan for Inciting Attack on Christians Accused of Blasphemy

ICC Note: Last week, another Christian couple in Pakistan was accused of desecrating the Quran when local Islamic clerics discovered the illiterate couple was using a banner containing a Quranic verse in their home as a tablecloth. The Christian couple was beaten and had their heads shaved before police intervened. Instead of arresting the Christians, the police arrested the mob attacking them, including the Islamic cleric that incited the violence. This is a positive development in Pakistan where blasphemy accusations re known to turn deadly and spark fatal assaults on those accused, especially Christians.

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7/6/2015 Pakistan(Crossmap) – In a rare move by Pakistani police, an Islamist cleric was taken into custody on Friday (July 3) for inciting a Muslim mob to try to kill a Christian couple for alleged desecration of the Koran, a police official said.

Area residents and rights activists told Morning Star News (http://morningstarnews.org), that hundreds of Muslims in Makki village, near Farooqabad in Sheikhupura District, on Tuesday (June 30) attacked Owais Qamar, 35, and his wife Rukhsana after a neighbor complained that they were sleeping on a salvaged advertising sign inscribed with a koranic verse.

“The frenzied mob beat Qamar, a father of four, shaved his head and dragged him through village streets,” said the Pakistan correspondent for Morning Star News.”Rukhsana and two other women of the family were also tortured and their faces blackened with dirt before police rescued them.

Such police intervention is relatively unusual in Pakistan, where mobs furious over alleged blasphemy are often left to wreak havoc.””The area sources said Islamic leaders made announcements from the local village mosque that Qamar had desecrated the Koran by using as an in-home mat an advertising sign that contained emblems of various colleges and a short koranic verse related to education. They said that as soon as Qamar, his wife, their daughter Farzana and Qamar’s sister-in-law were brought to the village center, the mob pounced on them, blackened their faces and shaved Qamar’s head.”A Christian villager said, ”

Qamar was thrashed by men while his female family members were beaten up by the Muslim women. The mob later put a garland made up of shoes around Qamar’s neck and dragged him in the village streets.”A neighbor added that they immediately called police, fearing the violence could get worse and put the lives of the family in jeopardy.

Sheikhupura Senior Superintendent of Police Sohail Zafar Chattha played a pivotal role in rescuing the impoverished Christian family from the mob, which the police chief said was bent on killing them without first learning the facts of the case.

Chattha told Morning Star News that he had ordered officers to save the couple even if it meant opening fire at the Muslim mob.”The clerics leading the mob demanded that police arrest the couple and charge them with blasphemy,” he said. “I told them that I would not register a case because no blasphemy has been committed.”Instead, he ordered registration of a case against the clerics and 400 others for inciting violence and endangering the lives of the Christian couple, he said.”

The mob wanted to kill them right there, all because they are poor, illiterate people who didn’t realize that a line from the Koran was written” on the sign, he said.

He said that one of the clerics who led the mob and fled the village after the police action was arrested on Friday (July 3). The cleric’s name has not been released.…

Pray that God will comfort and restore the families affected.

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