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On Tuesday, a Pakistani court in Lahore convicted a Christian man to death under the controversial ‘blasphemy’ law.
According to the reports, the Lahore Session Court sentenced 37-year-old Asif Pervaiz Masih for insulting Islam and sending ‘blasphemous’ texts to a former supervisor at work. Masih was arrested in 2013 for alleged blasphemy.
Asif’s lawyer Saif-ul-Malook said that the complainant in the case filed against Asif Masih was working as a supervisor in a hosiery factory and Asif was working under him. Denying the allegations against Masih, Malook said that the supervisor was trying to get Asif to convert to Islam.
Asif, who is accused of insulting Islam, said he was confronted by his boss after he quit the factory job.
However, the lawyers representing the supervisor rejected the charges and said other Christians too worked at the factory and no one has accused him of any forceful conversion Islam.
Additional Sessions Judge Mansoor Ahmed Qureshi convicted Pervaiz and sentenced him to death. The court order said Asif would be ‘hanged by his neck till his death’ after serving the jail time.
Asif Pervaiz Masih is a resident of a Christian colony in Lahore, Youhana Abad. The court has also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on him and also sentenced him three-year imprisonment.
Pakistan has notorious anti-Islamic laws that carry a death penalty for people who insult the Prophet Muhammad, Islam, the Quran, or certain holy people.
There are at least 80 people currently languishing in Pakistan jails under the charges of blasphemy. Half of them are facing life sentences or the death penalty, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has said.
Blasphemy accused shot dead in Pakistan
Recently, in a brutal incident, an elderly man belonging to the minority Islamic sect of Ahmadiyyas, who was facing a trial for ‘blasphemy’, was shot dead in front of the judge in a local court situated in a high-security zone in Pakistan’s Peshawar city.
Tahir Ahmad Naseem, who was arrested on the charges of blasphemy two years ago, died on the spot in the court of Additional Session Judge Shaukatullah Khan after being shot at. The man on trial was facing charges for ‘insulting’ the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.
After the incident, shockingly, the Islamists in Pakistan had turned Khalid Khan—the man who shot dead Tahir Ahmed Naseem into a ‘hero’ as people took to social media to hail him as the ‘Lion of Islam’ for killing the ‘blasphemer’.
In a similar case, Aasia Bibi, a 48-year-old mother of four was convicted in 2010 for insulting Islam. She maintained her innocence but spent eight years in solitary confinement. Later she was acquitted by the Pakistan Supreme Court and had to escape to Canada. Salman Taseer, who was the former Punjab governor was also killed by his own guard in 2011 after he sought mercy for Asia Bibi.