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Pakistan court sentences Christian to death

September 8, 2020

Factory worker Asif Pervaiz, who has been in custody since 2013, has been sentenced to death after sending "blasphemous" text messages to his supervisor. The Christian man will appeal the decision of a court in Lahore.

Pakistan court | Peshawar
In a previous blasphemy case, security personnel stand guard outside the district court in Peshawar, PakistanImage: AFP/Str

A Lahore court has sentenced a Christian man to death on charges of blasphemy, in the latest case involving the enforcement of Pakistan's strict religious laws.

Asif Pervaiz, a garment factory worker, had been accused by his supervisor of sending defamatory comments about the Muslim Prophet Muhammad to him via text message.

Making insulting remarks about the prophet carries a mandatory death penalty in Pakistan.

Read more: Nigeria's blasphemy cases in focus

7-year trial

Pervaiz, 37, was convicted after a trial in Lahore that has been ongoing since 2013. His lawyer Saif-ul-Malook told news agency Reuters that he would appeal Tuesday's ruling.

The court said Pervaiz would initially serve three years in prison for "misusing" his phone to send the text. Then, the court said "he shall be hanged by his neck till his death."

Read more: Sajid Soomro: Another Pakistani academic falls victims to blasphemy law

He was also fined 50,000 Pakistani rupees ($300/€254).

Pervaiz told the court his supervisor made the accusation only after he had refused to convert to Islam. The complainant's lawyer, Murtaza Chaudhry, refuted this suggestion.

Human rights groups: Blasphemy laws can be excuse to persecute minorities

Human rights groups have said blasphemy laws are often misused to persecute minorities or even against Muslims to settle personal rivalries.

In July, a US citizen on trial for blasphemy, was shot dead in a crowded courtroom in the northwestern city of Peshawar by a teenager who told bystanders he killed Tahir Ahmed Naseem, a member of the minority Ahmadiyya community, for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

Since his arrest, the alleged shooter has been glorified as a "holy warrior" by supporters in Pakistan. Thousands of Islamists have rallied to demand his release. The US has since expressed its outrage over the killing of Naseem.


Pakistan under pressure to repeal blasphemy laws

Reuters contributed to this article.

John Silk Editor and writer for English news, as well as the Culture and Asia Desks.@JSilk