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A 72 year-old Christian was charged with blasphemy in Pakistan

Younis Bhatti was charged with blasphemy and arrested in Jaranwala on the 10th of February.

The plaintiff, Sosan Fatima, claimed that Bhatti had opposed her conversion to Islam. She attended Bhatti’s house church with her husband and falsely accused him of a property dispute. Bhatti and his five brothers obtained six acres of land, which they sublet to disadvantaged Christians for affordable housing. Around 15 Christian families are living in the area, but they have fled to Faisalabad out of fear of attacks by Muslims.

Asher Sarfaraz, chief executive of Christians True Spirit, confirmed that the 72-year-old Christian man was charged with desecrating the Quran under Section 295-B of Pakistan’s blasphemy statutes, which carries a mandatory life sentence: “Fatima has alleged that Bhatti forced his way into her house when she was reading the Quran, assaulted her and tore the Islamic scripture. But our investigation has revealed that Fatima implicated Bhatti in a false blasphemy case to prevent him from reclaiming his property. Bhatti has a good reputation in the area and is known to extend help to Christians. About two years ago, he allowed Fatima and her disabled husband to live in a house on the allotted land free of cost. The dispute began some months ago after Bhatti told Fatima he wanted to accommodate another Christian family on the property. He told her he would construct a wall to divide the 1,361-square-foot property between the two families equally, but she refused to let him proceed. Residents have also confirmed that Fatima was a regular church-goer, but she had claimed to have become a Muslim to entrap Bhatti in the false case.”

According to a local pastor, Sharoon Masih, Bhatti is a widower with three sons and two daughters: “Bhatti and his family are well known in the area for facilitating Christians. It’s alarming that our people have also begun misusing the blasphemy laws against each other over personal disputes”. 

Sarfaraz stated: “We are holding talks with senior police officials to ensure the safe return of these families to their homes. The families are naturally scared because of the Jaranwala riots, but we are trying to ease their security concerns.”


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