Letter to the Editor

Urgent need to protect religious minorities in Pakistan

Thursday, 06 Jun, 2024

On June 3, 2024, authorities confirmed the death of a Christian man, Nazir Masih, who succumbed to injuries sustained in a mob attack on May 25, 2024, in Mujahid Colony Sargodha, Pakistan. The attack stemmed from false blasphemy allegations made by a local property agent, Muhammad Jahangir, who accused Masih of desecrating the Holy Quran.

While Masih's death has deeply shaken the Christian community in Pakistan, it has also highlighted the dire need for stronger protections for religious minorities in the country, underscoring several concerning realities:

- The existence of blasphemy laws, particularly 295 A, B, and C, which carry severe penalties including death, creates a hostile environment for religious minorities. The mere accusation can lead to violence and persecution, as seen in Nazir Masih's case.

- Historically, false blasphemy allegations have often been motivated by personal vendettas or economic interests, as evidenced by the involvement of a local property agent in this case. This exploitation of religious sentiments exacerbates tensions and endangers innocent lives.

- Even if Nazir Masih had survived the attack, his life would have remained in jeopardy due to the perpetual threat of persecution under blasphemy charges. The fear of vigilante justice and societal ostracization would have haunted him and his family indefinitely.

- The consequences of blasphemy accusations extend beyond the immediate victim to their families, who face stigma and discrimination for generations. Despite legal acquittals, the shadow of blasphemy charges continues to loom over their lives, hindering their ability to rebuild and move forward.

In light of this tragedy, there is a critical need for comprehensive reforms to protect religious minorities and uphold the principles of justice and equality. Urgent action from the international community and human rights organizations is imperative to ensure the safety and resettlement of Masih's family in a secure Country where they can start a new life.

- Sabir Iqbal, New York