By Kamran Chaudhry
Church officials in Pakistan have filed a complaint with the Federal Investigation Agency against four Muslims for sharing a Facebook post deemed offensive to the Christian minority.
The controversial photo showed Pakistan army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa standing beside Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Maneka.
The First Lady is seen clad in her signature white burqa, an all-covering traditional garment, with the caption “The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”
Imran Titus Bhatti, national coordinator of the Church of Pakistan, filed an application on Sept. 10 to launch a case over the post with the cybercrime wing of the investigation agency in the city of Lahore, capital of Punjab province.
“The trinity is among the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith,” he said. “The titles in this blasphemous post insult my faith. It has caused religious hatred. The further sharing of this post is hurting our feelings.”
The Church of Pakistan requested authorities to block the Facebook post and take strong action against what it branded “religious terrorism.”
Blasphemy is a highly sensitive issue in the Islamic-majority nation and Pakistan’s Penal Code stipulates imprisonment of up to 10 years, a fine or both for outraging the religious feelings of any group.
However, religious minorities accuse authorities of generally ignoring insulting remarks about religions other than Islam.
In 2016, a disfigured picture of Leonardo da Vinci’s classic 15th century mural of The Last Supper circulated on social media. It depicted the faces of Jesus and his disciples swapped with the faces of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his ministers against a backdrop of Pakistan’s parliament.
The Christian community has taken to social media to condemn the recent Facebook photo and to post Biblical verses against such mockery.
In a video message issued Sept. 11 on social media, Rev. Amjad Niamat, convener of the Pakistan Christian Action Committee, urged Christians to peacefully record their objections to what was lamentable behaviour.
He demanded that both the government and military act against what he described as miscreant elements.
Catholic activist Khalid Shahzad urged Muslims to give equal respect to the Christian faith.
“A Christian believes in the trinity just like you believe in the finality of Prophethood,” he said. “The Muslim community has imprisoned many illiterate Christians in Punjab jails for blasphemy.”
Affected families and lawyers attending court hearings had also been threatened.