Published: 10:00 GMT Standard Time - Tuesday 10 January 2012
Fears for safety of Christian man accused of blasphemy in Pakistan
Country/Region: Pakistan, South and East Asia
There are fears for the safety of a young Christian man falsely accused of blasphemy in Pakistan who says he has been tortured and beaten in prison.
Khurram Masih (25) from Lahore was detained last month after being accused of burning pages from the Quran. An angry mob of around 1,000 Muslims had blocked a road in Shahdara for three hours demanding his arrest; they damaged several vehicles and ransacked the local police station.
Khurram said that he was badly beaten by the police after his arrest and compelled to confess to the act of which he was falsely accused. He added that he was not given anything to eat for three days.
A First Information Report (FIR), which launches criminal proceedings in Pakistan, was registered against Khurram under section 295b of the Pakistan Penal Code, which punishes desecration of the Quran with life imprisonment.
At a court hearing on 3 January, he was denied bail, apparently because of intense pressure by the complainant. Khurram, who has been married for just three months, is being held in prison in Lahore, where he says he has been tortured and beaten.
A church leader in Lahore said:
We fear for the life of Khurram Masih, he must be assured protection from those who want to kill him.