07/15/2019 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Jadoon Masih, a Pentecostal pastor who was arrested two years ago on charges of blasphemy, was acquitted on July 12, 2019 by the High Court in Lahore, Pakistan. Before his arrest, Masih was a pastor at Nasiri Pentecostal Church. While this is good news for Masih and the Christian community of Pakistan, the potential for mob violence against him and his family continues to raise concerns.
On February 2, 2017, Masih was arrested after Muslim clerics repeatedly found pages of the Quran lying on the grounds of his church. Torn pages of the Quran kept being left by unknown individuals on the grounds of his church for more than two months prior to his arrest.
In 2016, a similar incident happened to a different Christian leader named Babu Shabaz. In Shabaz’s case, his name was inscribed on the torn pages of the Quran that were left scattered on the floor of his church.
There is little doubt that both Shabaz and Masih were framed of committing blasphemy. Christians who are accused of blasphemy in Pakistan fear being killed by a mob or suffering severely in prison. In fact, even though Masih was granted bail in 2017, he lived in hiding with his six children because of the stigma attached to blasphemy victims.
False accusations of blasphemy are unfortunately common in Pakistan. The country’s notorious blasphemy laws are widely misused to settle personal scores or incite religious hatred against a minority community. In the case of Masih, it is great to see that Pakistan’s judicial system was able to come to a just result. However, the stigma of being accused of blasphemy will likely follow Masih for the rest of his life.
For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]