A Pakistan court has sentenced a Christian man to death after finding him guilty of blasphemy.
The Lahore court gave its verdict in the case after keeping Ashfaq Masih in jail since 2017, when he was accused of committing blasphemy after being involved in a heated argument with a Muslim customer, who had come to get his bicycle fixed at Masih’s shop.
As per details, the Muslim man got into a heated argument with Masih after he refused to pay the latter Rs 40 for fixing his bicycle. The Muslim man asked Masih to consider a discount for him, as he was a devotee of Prophet Muhammad.
Masih allegedly refused to offer any discount and stated that he was a Christian and believed that Jesus Christ was the last Prophet.
This flared up the Muslim man, who later got Masih arrested on charges of blasphemy.
Masih was arrested in June 2017 and since then he has been in jail as his case was hit by repeated adjournments in Pakistani courts.
However, after five long years, a Lahore court sentenced Masih to death after convicting him on charges of blasphemy.
Masih has a wife and a daughter, who have been pleading and demanding Masih’s safe return. Masih’s mother died in 2019 when he was behind bars. Masih was granted a release on parole to attend his mother’s funeral.
It was reported that after Masih was arrested, his family was forced to leave Lahore and relocate amid fears of reactionary attacks by various Muslim religions groups.
Masih’s conviction has spread a wave of concern among the civil society groups and voices of human rights, who expressed deep concern over the continued targeting of non-Muslim minorities, including Hindus, Christians and others, who are, at times, falsely accused of blasphemy.
Masih’s case is not the first when the court handed over death sentence to an individual from the minority community. In the past, there have been many cases where people have been accused of blasphemy and have ended up being handed with death sentence.
A Lahore court had sentenced the principal of a school to death after convicting her of committing blasphemy for claiming to be the Prophet of Islam in pamphlets, denying the finality of Prophet Muhammad.
The issue is blasphemy is a sensitive matter in this country which has often been wrongly used to settle personal rivalries.
(The story has been published via a syndicated feed.)