By Kaleem Dean
Yet another tragic blasphemy case against a minority in Pakistan is unfolding. Nabeel Chohan, a young Christian, has been arrested for allegedly “liking” a picture on Facebook that was deemed disparaging to Islam.
Chohan, whose ages has been reported to be between 16 and 18, was accused of liking a picture of the Khana Kaaaba (the “cube”), the tomb of the prophet of Islam, Mohammed, that was posted in a disrespectful way.
An Islamist living in the vicinity of Chochan noticed the picture on Facebook, which had garnered one “like,” allegedly by Chohan. He immediately gathered the Muslim community and explained to them the “offense,” before taking the matter to the police.
The young man was promptly arrested, while his family was forced to flee from home and the entire area for fear of a reprisal attack by the mob, common in these cases. Chohan was charged under a provision of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws which states that, “Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs” are punishable by 10 years in prison or a fine or both.
Of course, it is know that the arrest of this young Christian man will not ensure the sanctity of Islam. Rather, these kind of actions will be ridiculed by the civilized world that values freedom of expression, including the freedom to share one’s religious opinion.
Every single blasphemy case in Pakistan not only puts the victim in danger but also puts all other ethnic minorities in a state of fear and anxiety. Once the accusation is made, entire communities can be wiped out or forced to flee.
The international community has failed to come to the aid of Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities who face such unfathomable atrocities on a daily basis. In this case, the life of young Christian man has been ruined due to the serious allegation against him. He will suffer horrific persecution in the jail — even worse than the war criminals.
His family, friends and relatives will find no refuge in Pakistan. They will, most likely, try to flee the country to join hundreds of other Christian families who are stranded in different countries in their quest to find refuge.
One thing is certain: Trouble is waiting for Chohan and his family, whether they stay in Pakistan or try to jump into the shadows ofinjustices and prejudices of UNHCR, UN and the larger WesternChristian world.
Kaleem Dean is human rights activist and journalist from Pakistan. He currently lives in the UK. He was the publisher of Christian Monitor in Pakistan, a leading Christian newspaper which covers minority issues. He presently writes for various Pakistani papers. Write to him at Kaleem.Dean@mail.com