For Immediate Release
International Christian Concern
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Washington DC 20006-1846
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Pakistani Court Upholds Life Sentence Against Christian Men
(8/18/03 4:09:04 PM) On August 7, 2003 the Lahore High Court in Eastern
Pakistan upheld a lower courtbs decision sentencing two Christian men to life in
prison for allegedly burning the Koran, Islam’s holy book.
In February 1999, Amjad and Asif Masih were arrested in Jhang, 240 kilometers
(164 miles) Northwest of Lahore, on charges of vagrancy. While in police
custody, authorities claimed that the two men set fire to a copy of the Koran. Amjad
and Asif maintain that the police officers set fire to the book themselves
because the Christians refused to pay a bribe. However, Amjad and Asif were
nonetheless sentenced on blasphemy charges in 2002. Amjad and Asif plan to appeal in the Supreme Court against the ruling of High Court.
Under Pakistan’s blasphemy law 295b, those who desecrate the Koran can be
punished with life imprisonment and those who insult the prophet of Islam can be
punished by the death penalty under law 295c.
Since these laws were implemented, hundreds of people have been jailed on
blasphemy convictions. International and Pakistani human rights groups have
criticized the law, saying it is easily abused because only the testimony of an accuser
is needed to prosecute a suspect. Many Islamic radicals are using this law as a
weapon to persecute Christians and other religious minorities of Pakistan.
The families of Amjid and Asif are finding it difficult to pursue the case
because they are receiving threats from fundamentalists in the area. Their lives
are in danger. Please pray for justice to be done in this case and for the
protection of Amjid and Asif Masih and their families.
ICC is a Washington-DC based human rights organization that exists to help
persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC delivers humanitarian aid, trains and supports
persecuted pastors, raises awareness of the problem of persecution in the US
Church and is an advocate for the persecuted to the US Government.
For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 301-989-1708