Another Pakistani Christian Framed for Blasphemy Is on Trial

Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Please pray for Parvez Masih who is due to appear before the Daska District
Court in Sialkot this Saturday, 15th March.

Parvez Masih, a Christian headmaster from Daska, 100 miles southeast of
Islamabad, Pakistan, was accused of blasphemy under section 295C of the
Pakistan Penal Code last April.  If convicted, he will face the mandatory
death sentence.

According to local sources, the complaint of blasphemy was filed by a rival
Muslim, Mohammad Ibrahim, in a malicious attempt to force Parvez Masih into
closing down his school.  

At an adjourned hearing earlier this month, the Sialkot District Court
expressed concerns that the arrest record was improperly maintained and
ordered the arresting police officer to bring a complete file on the
investigation to the hearing scheduled for this Saturday, 16th March.

When Parvez Masih was arrested last year, the local Bar Council announced
that any lawyer taking up his case would be killed. Extremists Islamic
groups in the area, including the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and the Sipah Sihaba,
also declared that those pleading for Parvez Masih and those found helping
him would be dealt with severely.  

Last August, in a bail application hearing, Mulvi Yaqoob, a local Imam
(Muslim clergyman), openly testified against Parvez Masih, saying that he
was guilty of blasphemy and the court should punish him. 

On dismissing the bail application, Justice Khalil Ul Rehman Ramady and
Justice Mia Saqib Nasar remarked, 'the witness of Muslim clergyman is far
more superior and authentic than anybody else.'


Prayer Points

* Please pray for the hearing this Saturday. Pray for the impartiality and
integrity of the judges and lawyers. Pray that justice will prevail and that
Parvez will soon be released without condition and all false allegations be
withdrawn.

* Please pray for the protection of Parvez Masih in prison.  Pray that God
will give him courage and faith, and will strengthen, sustain and comfort
him through this time of darkness.
* Please continue to pray for reform of the blasphemy law in Pakistan.  


Background 

Parvez Masih ran a reputable high school in Chailayke village where six
hundred Muslim families and twenty Christian families live. Due to the high
standards and long-standing reputation, the school attracted more students
than the rival school ran by Mohammad Ibrahim.

The allegation was based on the testimony of three Muslim students, Wakeel
Ahmed, Mohammad Bashir and Mohammad Ramzan (all minors).  All were said to
have told Mohammad Ibrahim and a close relative that Parvez Masih had
uttered blasphemous words against the Prophet Mohammad during a lesson. The
case was registered without due and proper investigation.

Parvez Masih is currently incarcerated, pending trial.  His situation in
jail is far from satisfactory.  He has been tortured and is under constant
threats from the jail authorities and from Muslim inmates to convert to
Islam.  
 
In an interview on 2nd May 2001, Parvez Masih complained of his treatment in
prison, "They (the police) beat me severely with rifle butts and kicked me.
I almost lost consciousness.  Then they said I should recite the first tenet
(of Islam).  I refused and they blindfolded me and lowered my
trousers.....they said they would circumcise me and make me Muslim ...... I
can never lead a normal life now, even if they free me. Some fanatic will
kill me. My whole life is ruined, as well as that of my family........."

For more information please contact Lydia Haines by telephone on +44 (0)20
8942 8810 or by e-mail at Lydia@csw.org.uk

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