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07/11/2019 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – On 29 June, 2019, a 19-year-old Christian boy was falsely accused of blasphemy and arrested on a cricket field behind his friend’s home in Bahawalpur, located in the Punjab Province of Pakistan. The Christian’s Muslim friend, Bilal Ahmed, claims he saw fliers with blasphemous information in his backpack and quickly reported the incident to the police.

A few days before his arrest, Sunny Waqas had an argument with Ahmed. The argument was allegedly about a cricket game, which Waqas often plays with Ahmed. Local reports claim that the allegation against Waqas is false and was only made to “settle” the argument. Nonetheless, Waqas was arrested and charged with committing blasphemy under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s Penal Code.

Police arrested Waqas without giving him a chance to inform his parents or even defend himself. On the day of his arrest, Waqas’ parents were worried about their son because he did not return home after going to play cricket with his friends.

When his parents first visited the police station, they were told that no one with their son’s name was in police custody. The next day, however, they found out that Bilal had lodged a blasphemy allegation against their son.

Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws are widely abused. The laws are often used by individuals seeking to settle personal scores or incite religious hatred. Unfortunately, Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan are disproportionately accused, arrested, and punished under the blasphemy laws.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].