Blasphemy Charges against Pakistani Christians Continue Despite Asia Bibi Release

Sunday, June 16, 2019

by Jordan Hilger, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - The date of an appeal hearing for a Pakistani Christian man accused of blaspheming the prophet Muhammad in 2013 has reportedly been set.

Sawan Masih was accused of insulting the prophet Muhammad—punishable by death in Pakistan—in a 2013 conversation with Muslim friend Shahid Imran, a dispute that Masih later claimed was ultimately about a land dispute.

The alleged offense was broadcast from the loudspeakers at the local mosque in Lahore, Punjab Province, inciting a 3,000-man mob to descend on Joseph colony, the predominantly Christian neighborhood where Masih lived. Homes were burned and looted and set alight, forcing residents to flee.

“They hatched a conspiracy to push out the residents of the colony,” Masih told the court at his initial hearing, claiming the government wanted to appropriate the traditionally Christian neighborhood for industrial use and merely wanted a pretext.

115 of the men who participated in the mob attack were brought up on charges, but acquitted in 2017 despite the court possessing video footage as evidence.

The instrumentality of Pakistan’s “blasphemy law”--which forbids insulting the prophet Muhammad or desecrating a Koran--in settling personal scores between Pakistanis was put on prominent display recently in the case of Asia Bibi, who finally escaped to Canada last month after spending ten years on death row for a 2010 dispute with a Muslim coworker that ended with accusations she had disparaged Muhammad.