A Christian family had their faces painted black, their heads shaved and a garland of shoes placed around their necks, before being paraded through a village following blasphemy accusations.
According to a statement from the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), the attack was prompted when Kaneez Asghar, the Muslim wife of a milkman, saw a plastic sheet with Arabic writing was being used as a floor mat at the home of Rehana Qamar and Awais Qamar in a Punjabi village.
She claimed that the words written on it were religious, although, because the children and their mother, Rehana, did not know how to read, they did not know it had ‘holy words’.
Kaneez asked Rehana to give the mat to her. Rehana asked for 1000 rupees for it. After some discussion, Kaneez said that she would get the money from home and went away. However, she returned with local Muslim Nasir Sansara Bhatti, who pulled Rehana’s hair and slapped her, taking the plastic mat and photographs of it.
Rehana’s husband Awais Qamar was not in the village, but his brother Ashraf was. When he returned from work, local Muslims shaved his head, painted his face black and hung a garland of shoes around his neck. They paraded him through the village on the back of a donkey, while some local Muslim women painted Rehana’s and Rukhsana’s faces black and also pulled their hair.
As the situation deteriorated, a local pastor called on 15 police offices because the mob was growing. The police took the victims into custody for their own safety.
A local magistrate ordered that the family should be forgiven as they did not know they were insulting Islam. The sheet which created the issue was taken into police custody.
Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS-UK, said, ‘It is an unfortunate situation for the Christians, especially those living in the villages where they are a minority, because they are looked upon as inferior to the Muslims and with hatred for being Christians’.