Christian bicycle mechanic accused of blasphemy after argument with customer
A Christian bicycle mechanic has accused of breaking Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws after an argument with a customer over payment.
Ashfaq Masih from Green Town, Lahore, had repaired a bicycle for local resident Muhammad Ishtiaq. However when he asked Ishtiaq to pay the bill, the man responded by saying that he was a Sadhu (an ascetic holy man, usually associated with Hinduism and Jainism) and asked for the bill to be reduced. Ashfaq refused to do this, saying he did not follow anyone other than Jesus, and so wasn’t interested in the man’s religious status.
A crowd gathered around the pair as the argument intensified. One of the gathered crowd levelled an allegation of blasphemy against Ashfaq, and the police were summoned.
Mr Masih was arrested and taken to the local police station. He was later sent to jail.
The Police inspector of Green Town police station has confirmed that a blasphemy case has been registered against Masih on June 15 following his arrest. No date has yet been set for the trial.
The misuse of the blasphemy law in situations like this continues to grow in Pakistan. The National Assembly have passed a resolution, calling for the law not to be abused in ways like this, but so far this has had little effect.
CLAAS continues to raise its concerns with the Pakistani government whenever possible, but so far our call for change has fallen on deaf ears.