By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
ISLAMABAD (Worthy News) – A 9-year-old Christian boy in Pakistan’s Punjab province and his family have reportedly fled their home after he was “falsely accused” of blasphemy against Islam and beaten up by his teacher and fellow students.
Elsewhere in the province, a Christian couple was arrested Friday for allegedly desecrating the Koran, deemed a holy book by Islam, Worthy News learned.
The boy, who wasn’t named for security reasons, was “tortured” Wednesday, September 7, in a school at Landhi Town in Khanewal District, said human rights activist Farrukh H. Saif, whose aid group campaigns for the family.
“I say the boy was tortured because he was badly beaten for his faith in Christ, a horrifying ordeal for any child,” said Saif, the co-founder of the Emergency Committee to Save the Persecuted and Enslaved (ECSPE).
“The incident has raised serious concerns about the safety and security of religious minorities in Pakistan,” Saif told Worthy News.
It wasn’t immediately clear what had caused the altercation, but there has been pressure on Christians to convert to Islam in several parts of Muslim-majority Pakistan.
Police have not yet launched a criminal investigation against the boy or his parents in a nation where blasphemy charges can carry the death penalty, Saif explained.
“The tensions are rising due to the incident occurring just before Friday, a day of communal prayer and congregation in the Islamic calendar. It has sent shockwaves through the [Christian] community, highlighting the urgent need for tolerance, justice, and religious harmony,” he added.
While the boy and his family were fleeing Friday, the Christian couple, Shoukat Masih and his wife Kiran, stood accused of tearing pages from the Koran and discarding them on the streets in Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city, Saif said. “They are now in police custody in Lahore. But they did not do that; these charges are false. As Christians, they did not even have a Koran,” Saif explained.
Footage obtained by Worthy News on Friday showed a large crowd of Muslims marching through Lahore demanding the arrest of Christians before the couple was detained.
“As with many blasphemy cases, this incident has sparked heated debates. It has also raised concerns about Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, highlighting the importance of protecting religious freedoms and ensuring fair and just legal proceedings,” Saif stressed.
Pakistan ranks 7th on the advocacy group Open Doors’ annual World Watch List of 50 nations where Christians face the most persecution.
Scores of people are known to have been killed for alleged blasphemy in Pakistan, while many Christians and others have languished for years in prison on what activists say are often “trumped-up” blasphemy charges.
Last month, scores of Christian homes and churches were attacked in the Punjab city of Jaranwala by Muslims following the alleged desecration of the Koran by two Christians, prompting international outrage.
If you are interested in articles produced by Worthy News, please check out our FREE sydication service available to churches or online Christian ministries. To find out more, visit Worthy Plugins.