By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - A Pakistani Christian woman and her four children have fled after her husband was sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam, well-informed Christians told Worthy News.
Marilyn Asif and the children went into hiding as the September 8 conviction of her husband Asif Pervaiz could lead to attacks against them, supporters said.
“Typically, even the families of those accused of blasphemy are targeted with acts of violence by opposing community members,” noted rights group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC).
Asif, 37, already spent seven years in jail after a blasphemy case was filed against him in 2013.
The case started with his refusal to convert to Islam or participate in Muslim prayers with colleagues at work, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
He was then accused of blasphemy for allegedly sending texts of this nature from his cell phone to the supervisor.
VOMC, which is involved in advocacy for the family, told Worthy News that the death sentence by the court in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore is being appealed.
The appeal is backed by Saif ul Malook, a Muslim lawyer who reportedly risked his life to defend Christians, Worthy News learned.
Among his clients was Asia Bibi, a Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy in October 2018. She was forced to flee Pakistan with family members for protection.
VOMC said it had urged its supporters to pray for Asif Pervaiz, his family, and other reportedly persecuted Christians in the Islamic nation.
Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws prescribe a mandatory death penalty for the crime of insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
The legislation also provides strict penalties for other infractions such as insulting Islam or the Koran, deemed holy by Muslims.
There are at least 80 people jailed in Pakistan on charges of “blasphemy,” with at least half of them facing life sentences or the death penalty, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).