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Pakistan Catholic Commission worried about threat to family

The Justice and Peace Commission of Pakistan's Bishops' Conference has expressed concern for the family of a teenage Christian girl after its members were forced to respond to a death threat against her by moving to an undisclosed location.

AsiaNews reports that their daughter Safad received death threats for allegedly desecrating the Qu'ran. Last July, a Muslim woman accused 16-year-old Safad Tasneem Dean of throwing a copy of the Qu'ran into the garbage.

They tried to kill her but a group of local elders was able to save her by getting the police to arrest her.

After heated discussions between local Christians and Muslims it was decided that the girl's father would take her place in prison, but he, too, was released soon after.

Asianews says an enraged group of Muslims gathered with the intention of burning the girl's house.

Adopted in 1986, Pakistan's Blasphemy law imposes life imprisonment on anyone insulting the Qu'ran and the death penalty on anyone defiling the name of Mohammed. Minority and human rights activists have repeatedly called for the law's repeal. It is used to settle matters between private individuals, and tens of thousands of Christians are believed to have died because of the law.

Since 1986, more than 4000 people have been accused of blasphemy. Currently, some 560 people have been charged and 30 are still waiting for a court decision. The accused have often had to move fearing for their lives and that of their families

Blasphemy law: death threats against teenage girl forces family to flee ( 3/11/04)

Pakistan Archbishop alarmed by decline in religious freedom (CathNews 15/7/04)
Pakistani Christian dies after prison beating (CathNews 2/6/04)
Pakistan president seeks review of blasphemy laws (CathNews 21/5/04)
Forced conversion to Islam fatal for Christian boy (CathNews 11/5/04)
Pakistan minority leaders criticise police over murder investigation (CathNews 11/8/03)

4 Nov 2004