Christian Man in Pakistan Sentenced to Life Imprisonment for Blasphemous Text Messages

ICC Note:

A Christian man from Pakistan’s Punjab province has been sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine for sending blasphemous text messages. Sajjad Masih was sentenced for sending blasphemous text messages from his ex-fiancée’s mobile phone. He reportedly sent the messages to seek revenge against his ex-fiancée for breaking their engagement. Although technically guilty, Sajjad Masih’s case once again highlights the misuse of Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Often this law is used to persecute minorities in Pakistan, including Christians, Hindus and other Muslim minority sects.     

7/15/2013 Pakistan (Christian Post) – A court in Pakistan’s Punjab province has sentenced a Christian man to life imprisonment and a fine of $2,000 for sending blasphemous text messages to Muslim clerics to seek revenge from his ex-fiancée.

A court in Punjab’s Toba Tek Singh district sentenced the Christian man, Sajjad Masih, for sending blasphemous text messages from a mobile phone to Muslim clerics and others in Gojra town in that district, according to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.

Masih, a resident of Punjab’s Pakpattan district, was arrested in December 2011.

Police say Masih was engaged to Ruma Masih of Gojra town but she contracted marriage with another Christian man in the U.K. To teach her a lesson, Masih used her SIM to send blasphemous messages to clerics.

Gojra is religiously sensitive, having witnessed massive attacks on Christians triggered by reports of desecration of the Quran in 2002.

Police initially refrained from charging Masih under the blasphemy law, but added it to the complaint later on the demand of Muslim clerics. The clerics also pressured police to include his ex-fiancée in the case.

Consequently, Pakistan’s interior ministry sought a red corner notice from Interpol for Ruma’s arrest in the U.K., but she could not be traced.

The blasphemy law, embedded in Sections 295 and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code, is frequently misused for personal revenge. It carries no provision to punish a false accuser or a false witness of blasphemy.

[Full Story]