Pakistani Christian Acquitted of Blasphemy by Trial Court at Terrible Cost

02/01/2019 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – As the world celebrates the confirmed acquittal of Asia Bibi, another 187 Pakistani Christians still face charges of blasphemy. Among those 187 was Pervaiz Masih who was falsely accused of committing blasphemy in 2015 and acquitted by a trial court on January 15.

According to reports, Masih was falsely accused of insulting Islam on August 15, 2015 in Garhaywala. Masih, along with six other laborers, was hired by a local businessman, Haji Jamshed, to fill seven trucks with sand. Each of the laborers were to receive 2,500 Pakistani rupees for their labor.

When the labor was complete, the supervisor, Muhammad Ejaz Sheikh, only gave the laborers 1,500 rupees. Masih complained and Ejaz falsely accused Masih of committing blasphemy to cover up his misdeeds.

Initially, the false accusation against Masih was ignored. Four of Masih’s Muslim coworkers even assured the local community that Masih had not made any insulting statements against Islam.

However, another local Muslim businessman, Muhammad Sajid, used the false blasphemy accusation to incite mob violence against the small Christian community of Garhaywala. This mob violence ultimately led to Masih’s arrest on August 31.

While Masih’s acquittal by the Kasur Session Court is something to be celebrated, the false accusation against Masih has already cost him and his family dearly. During the initial investigation, police in Garhaywala tortured Masih’s wife, Zareena. This torture left Zareena with permanent spinal damage.

False accusations of blasphemy in Pakisitan are all too common. As Masih’s story exemplifies, personal scores settling, religious hatred, and personal gain often fuel false accusations of blasphemy. Pakistan must do more to counter these false blasphemy accusations and the terrible costs often experienced by those accused.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org.

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