Image containing Kheirat and Akram Masih -both arrested under the blasphemy laws of Pakistan
By Mushtaq Gill
A Christian boy Akram Masih and his family, including several females, were severely beaten and tortured by Policemen and other extremists in Multan, on 16th October 2014. The policemen entered his home by climbing over the perimeter walls in order to arrest Akram, because he was in marriage with a Muslim girl, Maria Bibi (originally from District Shiekhupura).
Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill, Human Rights Defender and Chief of LEAD was informed by Moderator Bishop Asher Kamran, of Methodist Church of Pakistan,Multan who requested for legal assistance for Akram’s release.
Bishop Kamran said;
“We have already had written a request application submitted to the Inspector General of Punjab, Lahore, calling for him to dismiss the false FIR No.1093/2014 (17.10.14), registered at Police Station Factory Area.”
The police have also arrested one Christian relative of the boy from Lahore.
Akram Masih from Multan and the Muslim girl from Sheikhupura fell in love with each other over the phone.The girl left her home willingly one 16th September 2014 and went to see her lover in Multan, where they both got married according to Islamic Sharia law. Akram Masih even went as far as converting to Islam, due to his love for the girl and to save himself and his family from police and extremists. However, the conversion proved worthless when Police forcibly broke into his home and arrested him using excessive violence.
All the accused have been incarcerated at Police Station Factory Area, Sheikhupura.
The father of the other arrested Christian man, Kherait Masih have also made contact with Aric John, Advocate High Court, senior counsel of LEAD. He has asked for legal assistance for his son who is totally innocent, but has been caught up in this legal debacle.
Mr.Gill along with Aric John contacted local Police and have submitted documents proving the legal marriage of the couple and conversion of the Christian man from Christianity to Islam. The SHO responded by explaining that Akram Masih would appear in the court before Mr.Matieon Rehman, Judicial Magistrate,Tehsil Courts Ferozwala District, Shiekhupura. They are also recording a statement from the girl under section 164C of the Pakistan Penal Code. They explained that if the girl provided a testimony in favour of Akram and the marriage, then he would be released.
On the 17th October 2014 both Christians appeared in court in which a large Muslim mob were creating great tension. Only two days earlier in a similar case one man was shot dead inside the court premises during the hearing.
The couple were given a chance to speak before a magistrate and to talk to each other in relative priavcy, by ordering both the prosecution and defence lawyers to vacate the court room. However Akram was betrayed by his lover who recorded her statement against him with tears in her eyes.. Both Christian men have been sentenced for kidnap. Since the sentencing Akram Masih has disclosed to Mr.Gill that the girl was threatened by her family, who told her that if she gave a statement in his favour,they would kill both of them. Akram believes that his lover has saved his life by recording the statement against him.
It is forbidden in Islamic Sharia for a Muslim woman to get married with a Christian man or man from any other religion but Islam. However it is permitted for a Muslim woman to get married with a Christian convert to Islam. In Pakistan, the level of religious extremism means that it is culturally intolerable for the marriage between a Christian man and Muslim woman, even if the Christian converts to Islam.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chair of the BPCA said;
“This is a woeful decision that has ruined the futures of two innocent men. In Pakistan Christian men cannot marry Muslim girls as it is counter to Sharia law, the acceptable practice of a Christian convert to Islam is culturally intolerable and leads to honour killings. Bizarrely, the practice of Muslim men marrying a Christian girl is validated under Sharia law. Slightly more perniciously, the practice of kidnap, rape and forced Islamic marriage is promoted within extremist rings within Pakistan, many of these are linked to mosques. Worse still despite growing reports that more than three Christian girls are forced into Islamic marriages under these conditions, supposed Islamic humanitarians stay silent on this social malaise. Moreover the Government of Pakistan has yet to set up a task force to tackle this growing concern?”
A copy of the First Incident Report and Marriage Certificate are shown below: