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Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law resulted in a Christian’s death sentence.


According to his attorney, a Christian in Lahore, Pakistan, received a death sentence from an anti-terrorism court for posting a “blasphemous” video on social media.

Sahiwal District Anti-Terrorism Judge Ziaullah Khan delivered the sentence to 27-year-old Ehsaan (nickname “Shan”) Masih under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which mandates the death sentence for blaspheming Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

Masih’s lawyer, Khurram Shahzad Maan, said Masih testified that he vehemently denied creating or posting any blasphemous content on social media.

According to Maan’s statement to Christian Daily International-Morning Star News, the police retrieved Masih’s phone from his residence and forwarded it to the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) for investigation. As stated in the PFSA report, no blasphemous content was detected on the accused’s phone or TikTok account.

The attorney said a police officer was the complainant against Masih, and all prosecution witnesses were police officials.

“Despite there being no direct evidence against Masih, the court relied on the statements given by the prosecution witnesses and sentenced him to death, which is a gross miscarriage of justice,” Maan said.

Masih was also sentenced to a 10-year jail term under Section 295-A, blaspheming Islam, and he was convicted under Section 11 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) and Section 7(1)(g) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, resulting in prison terms of seven years and five years, respectively.

Sahiwal police arrested Masih on Aug. 19, 2023, accusing him of sharing on his TikTok account a video containing a letter that triggered the Aug. 16 Jaranwala riots by Muslims furious over its alleged blasphemous content.

Maan said the First Information Report against Masih was first registered under sections 295-A and 295-B (defiling the Quran) of the blasphemy statutes, along with sections related to electronic crimes and anti-terrorism.

He stated that Section 295-C, which requires a death sentence for insulting Prophet Muhammad, was included later because of the prosecutor’s demand. The accusation of implicating Masih in 295-C is nonsensical because he made no derogatory statements or writings about Prophet Muhammad.

The attorney said the harsh verdict was unjustified because the case was straightforward, with “no evidence.”

“The letter in question had been circulating on social media because of the Jaranwala incident, and it is a fact that Ehsaan Masih did not author it,” he said. “Also, no one witnessed him uploading or sharing the controversial letter on his social media account.”

The Organization for Legal Aid arranged for Maan to provide legal support to the impoverished Masih, who worked at a brick kiln.

Yousaf Masih, Masih’s elder brother, expressed his devastation over the verdict to Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. However, he remains hopeful that the Lord will secure his brother’s freedom.

He said the family belongs to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Sahiwal.

Minorities Alliance Pakistan (MAP) President Advocate Akmal Bhatti said the verdict contained glaring loopholes.

“The prosecution failed to provide concrete evidence to support the allegations, while all the witnesses were police officials,” Bhatti said. “The witnesses have recorded that neither the video was created nor shared on social media in their presence.”

Bhatti argued that Masih should have been charged under the PECA laws for sharing the video without considering the consequences.

“It’s a fact that he has not said nor written anything insulting for Islam’s prophet nor committed any terrorism, so convicting him under these sections is uncalled for,” Bhatti said.

The MAP chairman also criticized the police for adding terrorism charges to blasphemy cases.

“This is being done mainly under the pressure of Islamist extremist groups to target minority communities, especially Christians,” he said.

He stressed that the superior judiciary must consider this harsh sentence and the lacunae in the prosecution’s case and accept Masih’s appeal.

Bishop Azad Marshall, President of the National Council of Churches in Pakistan, also criticized the judgment.

“The video in question has been circulating widely on social media since Aug. 16, 2023, and was even present in the phones of several Muslims, including police officials,” Marshall said. “Does it make all these people blasphemers? Not.”

Marshall argued that the lengthy sentence was evidence of Christians’ concerns about the impartiality of trial courts in blasphemy cases.

“In over 90 percent of blasphemy cases, the trial courts have convicted the accused even if there was no evidence against them,” he said. “This is done because of the fear and pressure of the religious groups.

Our judges do not realize the agony the victims have to suffer for years in prison until the superior courts discharge the cases on the grounds of weak evidence.”

In addition, he claimed that the same courts are more than willing to release those who commit acts of violence in the name of religion on bail.

“Most of the individuals who targeted churches and homes of Christians in the Jaranwala cases have been granted bail and are unlikely to face trial,” he stated. “This discrimination in the dispensation of justice does not bode well for the country.”

On Aug. 16, a mob attacked several Christian properties in Jaranwala, ransacked over 20 churches, and destroyed at least 100 houses following false accusations of blasphemy against two Christian brothers.

The Anti-Terrorism Court in Faisalabad acquitted the two brothers of blasphemy charges. Another Christian bearing personal enmity toward them had framed the brothers, according to police.

Authorities in Jaranwala have arrested over 100 people for their involvement in riots; however, none of them have been found guilty.

Pakistan remained the seventh-highest country to live as a Christian in Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List.



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International Christian News publishes reports on the mission field, specifically focusing on the persecuted church and providing daily gospel news. The organization aims to fulfill the Great Commission, edify the global Christian community, and bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.