A Christian father of four was beaten, had his head shaved, his face blackened, and was dragged through his Pakistan village before he was rescued by police on 30 June.
Awais Qamar’s wife, Rukhsana, and two other family members also were beaten and had their faces blackened with soot by a mob angered by the fact that the family had been using a salvaged advertising banner as a mat to cover their floor. The banner, containing the emblems of various colleges, also included a short verse from the Koran: “My Lord, increase me in knowledge.”
Qamar, 35, who is reportedly illiterate, and is also known by the name Gharibu, which means “a poor man” in the local language, was boring for a new tube well about two kilometres away from his village, Maki 460, in Farooqabad, about 80 kilometres northwest of Lahore. It was about 9:30am, and a man in the local mosque had announced from its loudspeaker that Qamar had desecrated the Koran. Qamar was summoned to the village for “committing blasphemy.”
A crowd had already begun to converge in the village. A Christian neighbour of Qamar, Nazir Masih, tried to intervene while Reverend Asif Bashir, pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church next to Qamar’s house, called the police.
Even before the police arrived, they urged some of influential Muslims from a nearby village to intervene. One of those who stepped in, a man who asked not to be named, told World Watch Monitor that he employed both Qamar’s father, Siraj Masih, and brother, Ashraf.
According to Additional Superintendent of Police, Muhammad Jawad Tariq, “the mob didn’t resist much and handed over these fellows to us.”
Qamar, his wife and the other victims were evacuated to a safe place, said District Police Officer Sohail Zafar Chattha.
Chattha said police refused to file a First Information Report against the family partly because the state inspector general had given police orders to investigate blasphemy allegations personally before determining whether to file a report. “We will still not let the people go off scot free who triggered this tragedy in the first place and those who blackened the victims’ face and beat them,” he told World Watch Monitor.
Source: World Watch Monitor