Croydon religious leader faces life in Pakistani jail for his beliefs
The leader of an obscure religious organisation living in Croydon faces life in prison for blasphemy if he ever returns to Pakistan.
Younus Algohar, 40, was born in Karachi, southern Pakistan and is the leader of the Messiah or Medhi Foundation International (MFI).
Mr Algohar is a British citizen and left Karachi 16 years ago. He said if he went back to the Muslim state he would receive a life sentence for blasphemy.
He said: “There are so many complaints being lodged in Pakistan against me, in the police station.
“Because I talk about divine love they think I blaspheme against Prophet Mohammed and blaspheme against the Holy Koran but I don’t do that.”
Mr Algohar, who claims he can heal people of incurable diseases, follows the teachings of Gohar Shahi, who he met in Pakistan 20 years ago.
Gohar Shahi, who claimed to have met Jesus, is reported to have died in 2003. Mr Algohar said he merely disappeared.
He was charged with blasphemy in Pakistan in 1999 but fled to Britain. In 2000 he was given three life sentences in his absence.
Other MFI members who were persecuted for their beliefs in Pakistan fled to India where they were jailed in April 2007.
Mr Algohar said: “There are 70 people in jail in India. They were demonstrating in New Delhi against Pakistan. They burned effigies of many radical Islamists like Osama Bin Laden who have their roots in Pakistan and who persecute our members. They burned their passports so they were arrested in New Delhi.”
He said he had written to the United Nations and to the Indian government to ask them to grant asylum to the demonstrators.
He said: “If they are repatriated to Pakistan they will be persecuted or face the death penalty.”
He said they had many followers living in Pakistan who kept their religious beliefs secret.
Mr Algohar said MFI held meditation services once a week in its Purley office and also in people’s homes but has branches and members all over the world.
He said they welcomed people of all faiths: “We propagate divine love and global peace.”