By BosNewsLife Asia Service
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-– A Christian teenager “wrongly” convicted of “blasphemy” against Islam was still recovering Sunday, November 28, after Muslim inmates nearly stoned him to death in a prison in Pakistan’s northwest Punjab province, Christians and medics said.
Imran Masih, a 19-year-old member of the Protestant Church of Pakistan, was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit in District Hospital Hazro following the October 29 assault, said Dr. Sultan Malik in published remarks.
“Imran Masih was brought to the hospital in a very serious condition,” he added.
Masih, a resident of Hazro near Attock, was detained after a July 2009 incident at a barbershop. The owner, identified as Nadeem Haider, accused him of stealing 5,000 rupees ($60), Christians said. Haider, who had been pressuring Masih to convert to Islam, had the Christian arrested, according to investigators.
The owner allegedly paid a senior police officer to torture Masih. Soon a simple case of robbery was turned into blasphemy, with police saying he had spoken against Islam’s prophet Muhammad, his father Baharat Masih told reporters.
Police officials did not comment.
A court eventually sentenced Masih to 10 years imprisonment under Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws.
News of the attack comes as Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, proposes to abolish the legislation, despite threats by hard-line Islamic groups to behead him.
“I am not afraid of these threats. I am ready to sacrifice everything for the principles that I believe in,” Bhatti, a Christian, said in remarks obtained by BosNewsLife .
Bhatti explained that he had spoken in recent days with Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari amid concerns that another Christian inmate, Asia Bibi, will become the first woman to be executed on blasphemy charges.
He said he will propose names of scholars and experts for a committee to review the blasphemy laws and propose recommendations “to effectively prevent” its misuse.
Western nations should respond by immediately and without exception, cutting off financial aid, and even trade, to states who do not allow complete public and private freedom of religionand. The consequences of doing nothing simply prolongs the misery of millions of innocent people.
Humanity is a world community, and there is no way that we can continue to allow our brothers and sisters to be murdered and mistreated because of their faith, no matter what it may be.