LAHORE: A man wrote that his name was ‘Jew Jurian’ on his national identity card form. The data entry clerk then assumed he was a Jew. Thus for the first time in the history of Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC), a Pakistani was officially declared a Jew.
The problem was that he was a Christian.
The bigger problem for Jurian, as he told The Express Tribune, was that he was accused of being a Jew – and subsequently, through the twisted logic of twisted souls, of blasphemy.
After thorough investigations, Jurian was released by the police, along with three others, in May 2003. Almost nine years later, he and his family still face death threats.
Qaiser Azeem, one of the other three men, was stabbed to death two years later. Another, Mushtaq Ahmed, was also shot after testifying against religious extremists accused of terrorism. Despite the families of Jurian and those murdered fleeing the area, death threats still continue. An FIR obtained by The Express Tribune seems to confirm this.
According to the FIR, registered at Bakri police station by Jurian against unknown extremists, the victim (Jurian) was detained for blasphemy in 2002. Despite being declared innocent, he and his family received death threats. Through his father, Maqbool Masih, he then contacted Kamran Micheal, the provincial minister for human rights and minorities and submitted an application.
In his application he appealed to be saved from extremists. He also said that the assistant sub inspector of Baghbanpura police station is providing security to such extremists.
The contents of the FIR further stated that the victim received threatening calls continuously. Late at night on October 25, 2011, he received a call from a stranger calling him an infidel (kafir). This being a regular occurrence, Jurian and his family have now left the area. Only one Christian family lives in the area, Mohallah Green Park, situated in Shalimar Town, Lahore – and Jurian claimed that some local residents are in contact with religious extremists. He also alleged that a police official at a local station sympathises with extremists, and they have worked together to create trouble for Jurian and his family, eventually forcing them to leave. He alleged that the Baghbanpura police have continuously harassed his family and conducted various raids at his home.
Jurian, his family, and the families of those already victim to such extremists have left the city to live an underground existence. Be they Jew, Christian or unclassifiable, this is obviously an unacceptable state of affairs.
(Read: The year of fear)
Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2012.
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