Posted by: becketfund | January 25, 2009

Pakistan: Christians Cleared of “Blasphemy” Amid Violence

ISLAMABAD – Five Pakistani Christians who were detained and charged with “blasphemy” against Islam in April 2007 were freed from prison on January 25, BosNewsLife reported on January 25. In remarks distributed by Compass Direct News agency, advocacy group Sharing Life Ministries Pakistan (SLMP) said it had negotiated their release with Muslim leaders. SLMP said that a Punjab court released Salamat Masih, 42, his son Rashid, 16 and their relatives Ishfaq, Saba and Dao Masih through “reconciliation” and out-of-court meetings between Muslim and Christian representatives. As a result of the meetings, Islamic clergymen reportedly agreed to issue a fatwa, or “religious edict” declaring the accused men innocent of blasphemy, and the Muslim witnesses withdrew their testimony on January 13. News of the release came as Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, said he wants Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws to be repealed as part of what he called his struggle for “religious freedom, human dignity and social justice.”

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