06/16/2022 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Rehmat Masih, a Christian imprisoned on blasphemy charges, pleaded not guilty in a statement to the judge on May 31st. Arrested on January 3rd, Masih has languished in prison for over five months. He is accused of profaning and desecrating the Koran. No evidence exists, however, justifying this charge. His Muslim accusers found pages of the Koran in a sewage drain and simply assumed that Masih was responsible because he was a Christian and because the pages had come from the publishing house where he worked as a cleaner. When his accusers confronted him, Masih confidently stated that he was unaware of the tarnished pages. Police arrested him regardless, and he was subsequently also denied bail on January 19th.
Masih has repeatedly refused to convert to Islam, despite pressure from employees and owners at the publishing house. When he was first arrested, police tortured him, coercing him to initially confess to the blasphemy crime, which he maintains he did not commit. Masih’s wife and two children have also faced persecution. The police threatened the family and warned them not to contest the legal case against Masih. They had to relocate for their own safety.
As in this case, Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often used as weapons against Christians. Their accusers threaten them and have them imprisoned, sometimes at risk of a death penalty sentence, with little to no evidence or due process. According to the Centre for Social Justice, at least 1,949 people accused of blasphemy between 1985 and 2021 have been subjected to false allegations, prolonged trials, and displacement. We pray for relief and freedom for Rehmat Masih and other Christians like him accused of blasphemy in Pakistan
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