by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – A Christian couple in Punjab Province, Pakistan have been charged and detained under the country’s notoriously harsh blasphemy laws, just weeks after mobs of Islamic extremists attacked more than 80 Christian homes and churches in the region, the Christian Post (CP) reports.
Shaukat Masih, 33, and his wife Kiran, 28 were arrested in Lahore, Punjab Province on Saturday, September 9, CP reports. The arrests came after local Muslim extremist Muhammad Tamoor told police he found pages from the Quran strewn near the couple’s home in Chaudhary Colony.
The two Christian were charged under Section 295-B of Pakistan’s penal code, which carries life imprisonment, CP reports. The couple are in police custody while their three young children, two of whom have severe disabilities, are in the care of another Christian family.
Rights groups, including the UK-based Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), have long warned against Pakistan’s regular and arbitrary abuse of its inhumane blasphemy laws, CP reports. In a statement to The Christian Post, Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS-UK described the laws as part of a “gradual genocide” of Christians in Pakistan.
In a website statement about the situation facing Christians in Pakistan, the Open Doors international Christian advocacy organization reports: “Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws target religious minorities (including Muslim minorities), but affect the Christian minority in particular – roughly a quarter of all blasphemy accusations target Christians, who only make up 1.8% of the population. The number of blasphemy cases is increasing, as is the number of Christian (and other minority religion) girls being abducted, abused and forcibly converted to Islam.”
Ruled by an authoritarian Islamic regime, Pakistan ranks 7 on the US Open Doors World Watch List 2023 of top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.
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