Pakistan: Christian evangelists charged with blasphemy may face death penalty

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Two Christian evangelists in Pakistan have been charged with blasphemy - and could face a mandatory death penalty if convicted, International Christian Concern reports. Haroon Ayub Masih and Salamat Mansha Masih were arrested on February 13 for allegedly insulting Islam while preaching the Gospel in Model Town Park in Lahore.

According to the local police report, the two evangelists were preaching when they were approached by Haroon Ahmad, a Muslim, and a number of Ahmad’s friends, ICC said. The Christian men offered Ahmad a book called “Water of Life” and told him about the divinity of Jesus Christ. An argument ensued and Ahmad accused the evangelists of insulting Islam.

The police went on to charge Haroon and Salamat blasphemy under Sections 295-A, 295-B, and 295-C of Pakistan’s Penal Code. If convicted they could be executed as Section 295-C carries mandatory capital punishment, ICC said.

Expressing concern for the safety of Haroon Masih and Salamat Masih, and calling for a full and fair investigation into the charges against them, ICC Regional Manager William Stark said: “ Too often these [blasphemy] laws have been a tool in the hands of extremists seeking to stir up religiously motivated violence against minority communities.”

Moreover, Stark added, such violence is not limited to those accused: “There are many examples in which a blasphemy accusation has exploded into violence against an entire Christian community,” he said.