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Blasphemous poster: Three Christians arrested in Gujrat

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Punjab police have arrested three Christian men over using the word ‘prophet’ as a description of a deceased priest on a poster, said officials.

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The men were apprehended in Gujrat soon after police noticed posters manifesting marks as the 20th anniversary of the death of priest Fazal Masih referring to him using the word prophet in Urdu.

“We have arrested three men, including the son of the priest, because they used the word prophet for the late Fazal Masih,” said the local police station chief Shahid Tanveer.

He also told that officers summoned local Muslim scholars and elders of the Christian community to the police station to discuss them the matter.

Meanwhile, the Christians organizers of the event have rendered apology and sought forgiveness, explaining they had used the word in order to celebrate Masih’s humble services to religion; however, the Muslims, they said, turned down their apology.

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Police station chief said that a case under anti-terrorism law had been filed against the organizer and these three arrested ones besides 11 others who are at large. Tanveer did not, however, explained the reason behind putting terrorism charges, though the legislation is often used in sensitive and high profile cases as it gives access to a fast-track trial process.

Christians, who contribute with two per cent of the total of Pakistan’s population, have increasingly been targeted in recent years, mostly over alleged blasphemy. Earlier, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear an appeal by a Christian woman challenging her death sentence for blasphemy, lawyers said, in such a case that had drawn rights campaigners to criticise it severely.

Further, in one of the most frequent cases of blasphemy, Asia Bibi has been on death row since 2010 after being convicted of insulting the Prophet.

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