Who is Imran Masih
Imran Masih, son of Sharif Masih, resident of Chak 44, Tehsil Phalyian, Mandi Bahauddin, Punjab, employee of a local health care center and works as a janitor.
April 16, 2015
Imran Masih, attends wedding of a Muslim colleague’s daughter and records a small video clip just like any of us do at such occasions.
April 19, 2016
Imran goes back to work where his colleagues ask him to show them the video clip of the wedding. Imran hands over the phone without hesitation, thinking he has nothing to hide, and continues to finish his work.
Upon returning, Imran finds Bilal, a drug store owner, showing provocative lectures by Pastor Sami Samson to other workers. Upon asking Bilal to return the phone, Bilal hits Imran on the face accusing him of watching anti-Islamic lectures on his phone.
Imran swears that he has never watched any such video but he is not believed and is locked up in an empty room. Imran calls members of his Catholic Church Committee to apprise them of the situation using another phone which he fortunately had. Aamir Masih and Arif Masih tell a senior doctor at the health center that Bilal is not educated enough to be able to browse and use search engines. After persuasion, they are able to get Imran Masih released.
April 22, 2016
Coworker, Maulvi Manzoor tells Imran Masih that Bilal is very upset with him and that Imran should seek Bilal’s forgiveness. Imran accompanies Mansoor to Bilal’s shop to ask for forgiveness.
Bilal, being absent from his shop, is called on the phone by Manzoor, only to learn that he is in Sargodha seeking opinion of religious scholars on the incident. Bilal informs Manzoor that a decree (fatwa) has been issued finding Imran Masih guilty of blasphemy and is entitled to be killed.
Imran Masih is advised by Manzoor to run and hide to save his life. Imran does not go back home, instead, goes in hiding.
April 23, 2016
Sharif Masih, Imran’s father, contacts the health center to ask about his son and is told that Imran never showed up to work.
Sharif is not satisfied with the response and asks a few Chuch Committee members to accompany him to the health center. Upon visiting, they learn from Maulvi Manzoor about the conversation with Bilal because of which Imran Masih has run away.
April 29, 2016
Till this day, the incident is spread across villages while Imran is still in hiding. Local Muslim clerics urge all to socially boycott Christians and to not do any business with them quoting “harboring a blasphemer’ as the reason.
Irshad Jhakar, a Muslim businessman, announces Rs. 1 million reward to anyone who kills Imran Masih.
One committee of Muslims, led by Inayat Mahajir announce to organize an attack and torch homes of the Christian community and Church.
Another committee of Muslims, led by Mohammad Riaz, request Inayt Mahajir to not take any action until accusations are proven.
May 2, 2016
Muslim committee members visit the health center where Imran Mash worked and inquired on the incident. The committee was told that no such incident of blasphemy took place. Committee is not satisfied with the response and continues to plan the attack.
May 5, 2016
Iqbal Masih, a Christian resident of Chak 44, approaches the mosque, seeking permission to have his daughter’s marriage ceremony on May 6, 2016. Iqbal Masih is denied permission and instead, told if Imran Masih is not handed over, they will be attacked at midnight. Young men are deployed to keep an eye on Sharif Masih’s house.
May 6, 2016
After Friday prayers, Muslim clerics call upon all Muslims of adjoining villages to gather in Chak 44.
Aamir Masih calls 15 (police helpline), sensing trouble as a large crowd gathers outside the mosque. Police arrives fairly quickly and disperses the crowd. Muslim committee members are taken to Imran Ghuman’s house to record statement while not a single Christian is asked for a statement.
Dr. Ashraf Fazi (convert from Islam to Christianity), standing nearby, is beaten up by a few of those who had gathered outside the mosque. Police drags Dr. Fazi inside Imran Ghuman’s house and later take him along.
May 7, 2016
Dr. Ashraf Fazi is released after staying overnight with the police.
May 12, 2016
Ali Zain of Daily Pakistan Global reports that the local police has concluded that the blasphemy charges level against Imran Masih were fabricated. Muhammad Nawaz, Assistant Sub-Inspector, says there is no evidence to confirm the crime.
Salim Iqbal (National Director of Care Council for Human Rights) accuses minority MNAs and MPAs including Kamran Michael, Shehzad Munshi, Tariq Masih and SHakil Marth and others of doing nothing while enjoying perks of representing minorities. Iqbal is fearful any action by them will be only after tragedy strikes.
Iqbal’s fear may be justified as Muhammad Saleem Bhatti, who heads the mosque committee and who is an elected vice chairman of the union council on PML-N’s ticket, has announced to do whatever possible to bring the blasphemer to justice.
The Christians, many of whom have reportedly already left to take refuge with friends or relatives, are living in fear, having difficult access to food, security, peace… And how can they feel at peace or secure when there are only about 300 Christians out of total of approximately 3,000.
Should any one decide to record concern and raise the voice, contacts are given below. Others can continue to watch the smoke from a distance till the fire is too close to be put out.
This is not the first time, but it can be the last!
DPO, Mandi Bahauddin: 0546-502324Fax: 0546-503068, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SDPO Phalia (Circle): 0546-596126 Local Police Station Phalia 0546-596007
Mohammed Zafar, SHO, Thana Gojra: 0321 7777154
- Centre For Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement
- Ali Zain, Daily Pakistan Global
- Shamila Ghyas, The Nation