Persecution of minorities

Yet again there is a conjunction of a member of a minority group and blasphemy allegations and the internet

Editorial February 27, 2018

Any member of a religious minority that falls into the hands of any investigative agency for whatever reason is unlikely to be treated fairly or equitably, and in some instances may find themselves — allegedly — tortured. One such case has recently come to light. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general on Sunday February 25th has ordered an inquiry into the circumstances in which a detainee, Sajid Masih, jumped from the building where he was being held and suffered critical injuries. He survived the fall but has broken his legs and jaw. The investigation team is to inquire into the actions of four officials said to have tortured and abused Masih. They are said to have been investigating an alleged blasphemy by Masih on a Facebook page and that he threw himself out of the building when they tried to access his mobile phone data. In his statement made from a hospital bed, Masih alleged torture as well as an attempt to get him to engage in a sexual act with his cousin Patras Masih who was also present. It was at that point, says Masih, that he jumped.

It appears that Sajid Masih is going to survive his injuries and will be able to make a deposition as to the circumstances surrounding the incident. Whether the outcome of any inquiry would be found in his favour is unknown, but it has to be said that it is unlikely given that the FIA is effectively investigating itself and will doubtless seek to protect its officers. Yet again there is a conjunction of a member of a minority group and blasphemy allegations and the internet. As it is not known what the suspect posted that was supposed to be blasphemous, it is never going to be known as that would be a repeat of the alleged blasphemy. Thus any evidence if presented would be ‘in camera’ and as yet the suspect has not been charged with anything, merely accused. That said a mere accusation can be tantamount to a death sentence as has been seen in innumerable cases over the years. Reform the blasphemy laws? Not before hell freezes over. 

Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2018.

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