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January 13, 2012 Special Dispatch No. 4420

Pakistani Daily Report: Pakistani Christian Named 'Jew' Threatened by Islamic Extremists

January 13, 2012
Pakistan | Special Dispatch No. 4420

Recently, a Pakistani daily published a report on a Pakistani Christian who has been charged in an alleged blasphemy case and come under repeated threats from Islamic extremists after he wrote his name "Jew Jurian." The word "Jew" could be sensitive in Pakistani society where antisemitism runs deep in the public psyche.

The report, titled "The Name 'Jew' Lands Christian in Trouble," stated that problems for Jew Jurian began after he wrote his name on an application form for a national identity card, which is issued by the Pakistani government to every citizen. Not only did the entry clerk assume that he was a Jew, but later a blasphemy case was filed against Jew Jurian, and threats emanating from local Islamic extremists in Lahore have continued against him.

According to the report published in The Express Tribune newspaper, Jew Jurian and his family members – along with others who were also accused of committing blasphemy – have left the area of Lahore where they used to live. The case also highlights how police officials in Pakistani society often work in collusion with Islamic extremists in religious cases.

Following are excerpts from the report:[1]

"The bigger problem for Jurian ... was that he was accused of being a Jew – and subsequently, through the twisted logic of twisted souls, of blasphemy"

"A man wrote that his name was 'Jew Jurian' on his national identity card form. The data entry clerk then assumed he was a Jew. Thus for the first time in the history of Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC), a Pakistani was officially declared a Jew. The problem was that he was a Christian.

"The bigger problem for Jurian ... was that he was accused of being a Jew – and subsequently, through the twisted logic of twisted souls, of blasphemy. After thorough investigations, Jurian was released by the police, along with three others, in May 2003. Almost nine years later, he and his family still face death threats [over allegations of committing blasphemy].

"Qaiser Azeem, one of the other three men, was stabbed to death two years later. Another, Mushtaq Ahmed, was also shot after testifying against religious extremists accused of terrorism. Despite the families of Jurian and those murdered fleeing the area [of Lahore], death threats still continue. An FIR ... [first information report filed by police] seems to confirm this.

"According to the FIR, registered at Bakri police station [in Lahore] by Jurian against unknown extremists, the victim (Jurian) was detained for blasphemy in 2002. Despite being declared innocent, he and his family received death threats. Through his father, Maqbool Masih, he then contacted Kamran Michael, the [Punjab] provincial minister for human rights and minorities and submitted an application."

"Late at Night on October 25, 2011, He Received a Call From a Stranger Calling Him an Infidel (Kafir)"

"In his application [before the provincial government minister] he appealed to be saved from extremists. He also said that the assistant sub-inspector of Baghbanpura police station [in Lahore] is providing security to such extremists.

"The contents of the FIR further stated that the victim received threatening calls continuously. Late at night on October 25, 2011, he received a call from a stranger calling him an infidel (kafir). This being a regular occurrence, Jurian and his family have now left the area. Only one Christian family lives in the area, Mohallah Green Park, situated in Shalimar Town, Lahore – and Jurian claimed that some local residents are in contact with religious extremists.

"He also alleged that a police official at a local station sympathises with extremists, and they have worked together to create trouble for Jurian and his family, eventually forcing them to leave. He alleged that the Baghbanpura police have continuously harassed his family and conducted various raids at his home.

"Jurian, his family, and the families of those already victimized by such extremists have left the city to live an underground existence. Be they Jew, Christian or unclassifiable, this is obviously an unacceptable state of affairs."

Endnotes:

[1] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), January 9, 2012. The text of the report has been lightly edited for clarity.

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