Sawan Masih Tag


Pakistan – The “Asia Bibi” the world knows nothing about – ACN-News

16.02.2019 in ACN International, ACN Interview, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, Asia, Asia Bibi, Blasphemy Law, By Maria Lozano, By Marta Petrosillo, Journey with ACN, Mario Bard, Pakistan

Pakistan: “My husband is innocent!” –

The “Asia Bibi” the world knows nothing about


In Pakistan, 224 Christians have been victims of the blasphemy law since the law’s passage in 1986, Cecil Shane Chaudhry, Executive Director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of Pakistan, told a delegation from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) during a visit to the Asian country.

The Colony Joseph. In March 2013, almost 300 houses and 2 churches were destroyed after the Christian Sawan Masih was accused of blasphemy.


By Marta Petrosillo and Maria Lozano


Although the legal case against Asia Bibi finally came to a positive resolution on January 29th, 23 Christians were killed for blasphemy accusations between 1990 and 2017 and the Commission has documented a further 25 cases of Christians under trial, according to a study presented to ACN.


Specifically, there are two paragraphs of Section 295 of the Pakistani Penal Code (paragraphs B and C) that can be understood as the “anti-blasphemy law”. Section 295B stipulates a life sentence for anyone who desecrates the Quran, while insulting the Prophet Muhammed carries the death sentence under Section 295C.


“The anti-blasphemy law is a powerful tool that fundamentalists can wield to the detriment of minorities and is often misused as a means of personal revenge,” Chaudhry said. “And when charges are brought against Christians, the entire community suffers the consequences.”


This is exactly what happened in March 2013 in Joseph Colony, a Christian district in Lahore, after the young Christian Sawan Masih was accused of having insulted Muhammad. “On 9 March, after Friday prayers, a mob of 3000 Muslims burnt down the entire district, destroying almost 300 houses and two churches,” Father Emmanuel Yousaf, NCJP President, explained to the delegation from ACN during a visit to the residential area. In the meantime, the district been rebuilt, thanks to funding from the government and returned to the Christians.


Cecil Shane Chaudhry, executive director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of Pakistan.

While the 83 instigators of the arson attack have all been released, Sawan Masih was sentenced to death in 2014 and is still waiting for the appeal proceedings to be held. “The hearings are constantly being postponed,” attorney Tahir Bashir explained. “The last hearing was scheduled for 28 January, but the judge did not appear. A new court date has now been set for 27 February.”

National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) was formed in 1985 by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan. It provides services in the field of human rights advocacy. Since 1990 the Commission has defended cases of blasphemy against Muslims, Christians and Hindus, and has campaigned for abolition of the blasphemy laws. The team of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP).

Just as in the case of Asia Bibi, there are a lot of irregularities in Sawan’s case. The charges against him were brought by one of his Muslim friends, Shahid Imran, following an argument between the two men. Only two days later, two witnesses appeared who in reality had not even been present at the time Muhammed was allegedly insulted. “The charges against Sawan are being exploited,” Father Yousaf told ACN. “The true motivation behind this is an attempt to drive Christians out of this city district. It has become very popular because it lies very close to the steel factories.”


In the meantime, Sawan’s wife Sobia is raising their three children all by herself. “I don’t know why they have accused my husband,” she said to ACN. “I just know that the man who brought charges against him was a friend of his with whom he had quarrelled. Sawan is innocent!”



Press release – Pakistan / Illegal confiscation of church property

17.06.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International

ACN International

Adapted by Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada

Montreal, June 17th, 2013 – The Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Lahore in northern Pakistan, Bishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, deplores the illegal transferPAKISTAN-1 into state ownership of a piece of land belonging to the Church. He reports that the transfer has now also been formalised in the land register.

A Caritas centre had previously stood on the confiscated land, which was torn down with heavy equipment under police protection on 9 January 2012. The complex of buildings had included a day care centre for old people, a sewing school for girls, a chapel and a convent for sisters, as well as further Catholic Church institutions. The centre has been in the possession of the Church since at least 1887.

“The provincial government had promised on many occasions to give the confiscated land back to us. But not only were these promises not kept, but meanwhile the property has even been transferred into state ownership in the relevant documents,” Shaw reported to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). According to the Bishop, a court has already ruled that the transfer of the land to state property took place illegally.

Shaw said that, in his opinion, also in the case of the severe unrest that occurred on 9 March in a Christian district of Lahore some government representatives had “had an eye on the land” and wanted to drive out the inhabitants. The police stood by and did nothing when, two days after accusations of blasphemy made against the Christian Sawan Masih  on 7 March, some 3,000 men attacked St. Joseph’s Colony and set fire to 178 houses as well as two Christian churches.

In the Bishop’s view, however, it is gratifying that expressions of solidarity with the victims have come from numerous Muslims, along with spontaneous offers of aid. “A growing consciousness is developing among the population that we are all Pakistanis. And more and more voices are being raised, saying that the whole congregation should not be punished when one of its members unconsciously or even consciously does wrong. This is a good sign.”

In addition, representatives of the government, Muslim scholars and a high-ranking Imam came together to visit the scene, gave comfort to those affected and expressed their deep regret. This is the first time that such a thing has happened in this form, said Shaw.