Pakistan “Blasphemy” Youngster Freed; Other Christian Remains Jailed

Sunday, May 9, 2021

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

(Worthy News) - A young Christian man who was falsely accused of blasphemy was released on bail after four years of solitary confinement in a Pakistan jail. Still, another Christian faced prosecution for blasphemy, activists told Worthy News.

Nabeel Masih years was almost lynched when he gave himself up at age 16 to save his father from police brutality over blasphemy allegations, Worthy News learned.

“The young man who is now 20 spent four years in solitary confinement. That makes our period and type of [coronavirus] self-isolation seem so minimal in context,” said Hannah Chowwdhry, a representative of the British Pakistani Christian Association.

“He now bravely has attended several court hearings. He prays and hopes for success in getting an acquittal while currently enjoying some freedoms while on bail.”

The situation appeared more fragile for fellow believer Haroon Ayub Masih and his friend Salamat Mansha Masih. They were accused of blasphemy after reading the Bible aloud at a public park in Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city, on February 13, several sources confirmed.

They had also offered a Christian book to a Muslim man, according to Christians familiar with the situation. Haroon and his family escaped into hiding, but Salamat was reportedly detained.

“During the two months Salamat spent in prison before seeing a judge on April 16, he faced severe mental and physical torture,” said advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC).

“His family members were not allowed to see him until the day of his court appearance. One week afterward, his loved ones were finally able to speak with him for the first time,” the group recalled.

Relatives reportedly learned of the repeated death threats he faced and that, due to the severity of the torture, he succumbed to a confession of the blasphemy charges.

And authorities reportedly forced him to disclose the names of other Christians in his Bible study circle. The police also questioned him about the whereabouts of Haroon, Christians said.

“Salamat's lawyer has been unable to convince the court nor senior police officials of the gravity of the illegal actions that are taking place in the prison,” VOMC explained.

Bail is being sought, but Christians said chances of success “are considered very slim.” Pakistan, mainly Muslim, has come under international pressure over legislation that enables execution by hanging for perceived blasphemy against Islam.