Christians living in the outskirts of Faisalabad have escaped a death sentence after blasphemy charges were dropped, following an out of court compromise with local Muslims. Today 14 prisoners including one child of 12 held in custody were released.
The poverty stricken Christians of Tehsil Samandri District, Faisalabad were given permission to utilise a former Muslim graveyard by a compassionate local Muslim man, who recognised the Christian community had little land between them and could not afford or locate appropriate burial sites for their deceased.
Whilst Christians prepared the graveyard for their the burial of their deceased family members, offended Muslims came and threatened the Christian community with violence. Despite assurances that no further preparations for the burial of their dead would take place, extreme measures were taken by local Police who broke down the entrances to Christian homes and arrested 13 people. The rest of the Christian community fled the area for their own safety as the Police and a mob all threatened to kill Christians by setting fire to their homes.
The small village is home to around 350 Christian families and 1000 Muslim families. The majority of the Christians are extremely poor and illiterate and are often treated as an untouchable community.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said;
“Many will read this story and will feel grateful that justice was served to the innocent Christians freed today.
“But I ask you, what justice has been served?
“Thirteen innocent men have been tortured and beaten in dirty, dingy prisons with meagre and distasteful meals.
“These men have been away from there families with the fear of a potential death by hanging adding to their ignominy.
“Despite their innocence they have had to reach a compromise deal for their family and friends.
“An entire Christian community have had the homes they cherish and love – despite their dilapidated state – suffered looting and pillage after the Police that is supposed to protect them, forced them to flee their homes.”
“This is no victory, quite the opposite it is an example of the ongoing tyranny and hatred that Christians face on a daily basis in Pakistan.
“It is a negative indictment of a country whose quality of life for minorities has reached a Nadir.”