Pakistan: Police Torture Christian into False Confession of Blasphemy Against Islam

May 4, 2021

The case of Salamat Mansha Masih provides a particularly disturbing example of how the persecution of Christians in Pakistan is frequently carried out by the very officials who should be protecting that nation’s Christian community. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are all too often manipulated and misused in order to victimize Christians and other religious minorities, and leave them with no recourse before unsympathetic or complicit police authorities. 

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, calls upon the international human rights community to bring pressure upon the government of Pakistan to repeal these unjust laws, and allow the Christians of the nation to practice their faith in peace and live in peace.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan, see here.

“Police in Pakistan Torture Christian into False Confession,” Morning Star News, April 29, 2021:

LAHOREPakistan (Morning Star News) – Police in Pakistan tortured a Christian man into confessing to a false allegation of blaspheming Islam and illegally kept him in custody for more than two months, his attorney said.

Salamat Mansha Masih’s attorney, Aneeqa Maria of The Voice Society, said police were required to present the 26-year-old Christian before a judge within 24 hours of arrest. Lahore police arrested Masih on Feb. 13 after Muslims overheard him reading the Bible in a park and accused him and a friend of ridiculing Islam and its prophet.

Masih was in custody for two months and three days before he was presented before a judge on April 16, Maria said.

“During this period, he was kept in at least three different police stations and illegal torture cells, where he was mentally and physically tortured to confess to the baseless accusation,” Maria told Morning Star News.

While incarcerated, police repeatedly threatened to kill him, she said. Family members were not allowed to meet him, and his mother and siblings saw him for the first time in two months when the police brought him to jail after his appearance before a judge. Even then police did not let them talk to Masih, whose father died 20 years ago, until a week later, she said.

“When we were finally able to talk to Salamat in private at the District Camp Jail in Lahore on Friday [April 23], he told us that he had suffered immense torture and verbal abuse during his illegal confinement,” Maria told Morning Star News. “The police investigators forced him to admit to blasphemy. They also tortured him into naming other members of the Bible study circle.”

Authorities also questioned him about the whereabouts of the friend with whom he was reading the Bible, Haroon Ayub Masih, also charged, who fled the city after gaining pre-arrest bail, she said.

The attorney said she regretted that neither the court nor senior police officials have taken notice of officers’ illegal actions against Salamat Masih.

“This is a serious human rights violation, yet no one seems to be bothered about it,” Maria said, adding that she was preparing to seek bail for him despite slim chances of success.

“Obtaining bails in blasphemy cases has become virtually impossible now,” she said, citing pressure by an Islamist political party and a hardline group of Muslim lawyers to keep judges from granting bail. “One of my clients, Patras Masih, a 21-year-old blasphemy accused, is in jail for the last three years. I’ve moved three bail petitions for his release on statutory grounds, however, the judges keep issuing notices to the prosecution at every hearing instead of granting him bail.”…