December 28, 2011
A young Christian man was charged with desecrating the Quran under Pakistan's controversial "blasphemy" law after he had an argument over rent with his Muslim landlord, Compass Direct News reports. Khuram Masih, 23, was charged under Section 295-B of the law -- which makes willful desecration of the Quran or use of an extract in a derogatory manner punishable with life imprisonment -- after his landlord accused him of burning pages of the Quran in order to prepare tea. Masih appeared in court Dec. 24, but the judge did not show up, and a new trial date is scheduled for January. Christian rights activist Khalid Shahzad said that soon after the news of the alleged desecration spread, he and other Christian leaders started efforts to defuse religious tensions threatening the lives and property of more than 15,000 Christians in the area.