A Pakistani bike shop owner has been accused of blasphemy after telling one of his customers that Christians believe Jesus to have been the final prophet. Ashfaq Masih, 28, was arrested following accusations that he had “disrespected” Islam’s prophet, Muhammad.
The incident took place in Lahore on 15 June at Masih’s shop in the Bagarhian suburb of the city, near a sizeable Christian neighbourhood, the majority of whose inhabitants work as manual labourers.
As the argument unfolded, the owner of a nearby shop, Muhammad Ashfaq, joined a crowd of people who had amassed to hear what was going on. Muhammad Ashfaq, a complainant in the case, told World Watch Monitor: “Even when other men had gathered, Ashfaq Masih maintained a disrespectful stance. “While the argument was going on, someone informed the emergency police, who reached the spot and immediately put him in the police van and left.”
A local police chief, Wasim Akhtar, said the incident had been “unfortunate” but that the situation was “under control”.
“Most of my customers are Christians and I have been running this shop for the last 17 years and no religious argument has ever happened before,” added Muhammad Ashfaq. “Masih took over the shop about two years ago and this is the first time an argument like this has taken place. However, now a few children have informed us that he used to talk about religion.”
Masih’s lawyer, Riaz Anjum, said he would file an application for bail. “The family is extremely poor and have now fled,” he added. “We are in touch with the police and working so that the family can soon return to their home.”
Pakistani Christians make up only 1.5 per cent of the total population but over a quarter (187) of the 702 blasphemy cases registered between 1990 and 2014 were against Christians.
Source: World Watch Monitor
- Intercede for Masih and his family. May the Lord’s strength and protection be upon them. Pray they may remain faithful to Him during this difficult time of testing.
- Pray this case will very soon be resolved so that Masih may be released.
- Ask the Lord to somehow use this situation for good, in His perfect timing for Masih, his family and the Christian community.