10/25/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – According to the Independent Catholic News (ICN), the wife and family of Asif Pervaiz have gone into hiding after Pervaiz was sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy. Pervaiz was awarded the death sentence on September 8, 2020, nearly seven years after his arrest.
“She is in hiding because she feels threatened,” Release International, an organization that supports persecuted Christians, told ICN. “She is trying to keep her three sons and daughter safe.”
On October 2, 2013, a Muslim named Saeed Ahmeed Khokar accused Pervaiz of sending him blasphemous text messages from his mobile phone. Blasphemy charges under Sections 295-A, 295-B, and 295-C of Pakistan’s Penal Code were registered against Pervaiz at the Green Town Police Station in Lahore.
When Pervaiz became aware of the charges, he went into hiding. On October 9, after a week of searching for Pervaiz, police arrested several of Pervaiz’s relatives, including two brothers-in-law and his mother, Naseem Akhtar. According to Akhtar, police told her they would kill Pervaiz when they found him unless she helped them located her son.
Akhtar led the police to the home of Waseem Anwar, Pervaiz’s brother. There, police beat Waseem until he confessed to knowing where Pervaiz was hidden. On October 10, 2013, Pervaiz was arrested by police in Sahiwal.
According to Pervaiz’s family, Pervaiz and Khokar were coworkers at a garments factory named Shami Textile, located in the Youhanabad neighborhood of Lahore. At work, Khokar often pressured Pervaiz to convert to Islam, which Pervaiz refused. Prior to October 2, Pervaiz reportedly lost his mobile phone’s SIM card and did not request the company to deactivate it. According to Pervaiz’s family, Khokar used the lost SIM card to send the blasphemous text messages he used to register a false accusation against Pervaiz.
In Pakistan, false accusations of blasphemy are widespread and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. Accusations are highly inflammatory and have the potential to spark mob lynchings, vigilante murders, and mass protests.
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