Pakistani court denies bail to Gujrat Christians accused of blasphemy
Gujranwala’s Anti-terrorist court has denied bail to all Christians’ bail but granted it to Muslim Zulfiqar who printed the posters.
On 1st September CLAAS lawyers Tahir Bashir appeared in the Anti-terrorist court of Gujranwala for the confirmation of bail, but the Judge, Bushra Zaman, rejected all of Christians’ bail but granted it bail to Muslim man Zulfiqar, who printed the posters in question.
These posters are said to have offended some local Muslims by using the word Rasool (Apostle) for late Pastor Fazal Masih, the founder of the Biblical Church of God.
They took this matter to the police, civil lines, where a case was registered against 14 people, including one Muslim, Zulfiqar.
According to Tahir Bashir and Mr Joseph Francis, National Director CLAAS-PK, who was also present in the court at the time of hearing, the judge was biased and instead of following the law and making a decision on merit, she expressed her personal feelings stating “we cannot tolerate such wordings as our Rasool ( prophet) is the highest”.
She not only expressed her personal feelings, but revoked bail for Unitan Gill and Mohsan, and sent them to prison. This is despite the fact that Mohsan has submitted an affidavit in the court stating that he lives in Sheikhupura, and this poster was printed in Gujrat. He submitted that he had only been implicated because is Pastor Aftab Gill’s son in law.
He added: “I respect the prophet Muhammad from the bottom of my heart,” but his affidavit was not taken into consideration.
Mr Bashir argued with the judge that case not supposed to be registered under the terrorist act as it doesn’t not fulfil the criteria because there is no incriminating evidence which connects the accused with the alleged offence, and because no private person has been associated from the locality whose feeling would have been hurt, but it is the police who with malicious intentions who had inserted the 295- A in the FIR (first information report), an offence which carries a sentence of up to 10 years, a fine, or both.
Mr Francis has said it is very unfortunate that the judge brought her personal feelings into her decision in and gave such statement, which hindered justice being properly administered. He said that judges should set their personal feelings aside and follow the law, deciding the cases with diligence.