Evangelist Babu Shahbaz charged for allegedly committing blasphemy
Lahore (AsiaNews/Agencies) – An evangelical Christian from the village of Kamahan, near Lahore, was arrested on charges of blasphemy and now faces the death penalty.
According to a complaint by a Muslim, Haji Nadeem, Shahbaz Babu desecrated Islam’s holy book by writing his name on some pages, tearing them up and then scattering them on the street in front of a mosque where a Muslim, Peer Baba Gujjar, preaches.
According to British Pakistani Christian Association, the Christian man is completely illiterate, so he could never write his name on any pages.
Still Babu was arrested on 30 December in accordance with Article 295B of the Pakistan Penal Code. After the complaint, Babu, 41, a married father of three, was taken to the Nishtar police station.
Later, to avoid possible reprisals from Muslims and to ensure his protection, the accused was moved to the Model Town station, in another district of Lahore.
Activists note that no one saw him write his name in the Quran. Instead, the complaint could be a retaliatory act against his family, because the accuser is in a dispute with Babu’s brother George Masih who owns a thriving grocery store, which Nadeem wants to take over.
The Evangelical Christian is also disliked by local Muslims for organising prayer meetings at his home. For 15 years, many Christians, but also several Muslims, have participate in his meetings and have asked for his blessings and healings.
Some of the accused’s friends believe that his increasing popularity has fuelled a climate of intolerance among Muslims, especially since Peer Baba Gujjar’s mosque was losing members.