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Christian in Pakistan imprisoned for ‘blasphemy’ comment (0)

July 25, 2013


LAHORE, Pakistan — A court in Pakistan sentenced a Christian to life in prison July 13 for alleged blasphemy of Islam in spite of the complainant retracting the accusation and admitting police pressured him into making it, his attorney said.

Prosecutors at the court in Toba Tek Singh District in Punjab Province produced no evidence that 29-year-old Sajjad Masih denigrated the prophet of Islam and that Islamist mobs pressured the judge into the conviction and verdict. 

Gojra police arrested Masih, of Pakpattan, on accusations that he had sent text messages mocking Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, to Muslim clerics and others in Gojra on Dec. 11, 2011. 

Attorney Javed Sahotra said Masih had evaded repeated attempts to arrest him after learning of the accusations against him, but that on Dec. 28, 2011, area Christian leaders accompanied him to the Gojra City Police Station so that he could record a statement.

Some young Muslim men in Gojra had plotted against Masih to “punish him for being friends with a local Christian girl,” Sahotra said. It was not clear what interest the Muslims had in Masih’s love relationship with a fellow Christian, but the complainant in the case lives in her neighborhood. Prosecutors claimed that the young woman, Roma Masih, had broken off a marriage engagement with Sajjad Masih, and that in vengeance he had used a mobile phone SIM card purchased in her name to send blasphemous messages. She has since reportedly gone to the United Kingdom.

The complainant in the case, Tariq Saleem, said under cross-
examination that he had not received any blasphemous text messages as he originally claimed, Sahotra said.

Police officers pressured Saleem to file the case after Islamic clerics had pressured them, Sahotra said. Questioning why the clerics themselves were unwilling to file a case, he pointed out that the accused Christian does not live in Gojra and would not have known the numbers of the Muslim clerics and others there who were said to have received the supposed text messages.

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