Activists Call for Another Christian Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy in Pakistan to be Released
02/20/2019 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Activists in Pakistan are calling for another Christian sentenced to death under the country’s notorious blasphemy laws to be released. In March 2013, Sawan Masih was accused of committing blasphemy by a Muslim friend. This accusation erupted into mob violence that left an entire Christian neighborhood in Lahore torched.
Speaking to the media, Sobia Masih, Sawan’s wife, said, “I don’t know why they accused my husband. I just know that the man who brought charges against him was a friend of his with whom he had quarreled. Sawan is innocent!”
On March 9, 2013, Masih was accused by a Muslim friend of making blasphemous remarks against the prophet Muhammad. Throughout the trial, Masih maintained that he was innocent and was falsely accused due to a property dispute between himself and his friend.
After news of the accusation against Masih spread, a mob of enraged Muslims attacked Masih’s Christian-majority neighborhood named Joseph Colony. Some believe this is the true motivation behind the false accusation against Masih.
“The charges against Sawan are being exploited,” Father Emmanuel Yousaf, National Director of Pakistan’s Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, told ACN. “After Friday prayers, a mob of 3,000 Muslims burnt down the entire district, destroying almost 300 houses and two churches.”
“The true motivation behind this is an attempt to drive Christians out of this city district,” Fr. Yousaf explained. “It has become very popular because it lies very close to the steel factories.”
To date, not a single person has been convicted for the attack on Joseph Colony. This is despite the fact that there is abundant photo and video evidence of the attack as it happened.
The recent acquittal of Asia Bibi has given Masih and his supporters hope of eventually receiving justice. However, Masih’s legal team says there is still a long way to go. “The hearings are constantly being postponed,” Tahir Bashir, Masih’s lawyer, told ACN. “The last hearing was scheduled for 28th January, but the judge did not appear. A new court date has now been set for 27th February.”
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