A Pakistani Christian, Noman Masih, has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, Faithwire has reported.
Masih, 22, was sentenced under the country’s controversial blasphemy laws by a court in Bahawalpur.
The convicted Christian was arrested on July 1, 2019 some days after his cousin, Sunny Wagas, was apprehended for alleged blasphemy but was released on bail.
Masih’s father, Asghar Masih, described the allegation against his son as baseless.
According to him, Noman was sleeping when the police alleged that he was showing blasphemous images of Prophet Muhammad to people at about 3.30 a.m. in a local park.
He said he and his wife were heartbroken over the sentence though they have not lost faith.
“Our hearts broke today when our counsel informed us about the death verdict. But our faith in Christ has not waivered, and we trust God that He will rescue us from this suffering,” the senior Masih said.
Under 295-C of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws death sentence is recommended for blasphemy.
Masih’s lawyer, Lazar Rakha, said the verdict was given without evidence to back the allegation of blasphemy.
He said, “I’m extremely disappointed by the conviction, because there was absolutely no case. There was no proof against Noman, and none of the witnesses produced by police could corroborate the blasphemy allegation against him.”
Describing the judgement as a “murder of justice,” the lawyer said he would file an appeal even as there is another case of blasphemy against Masih. Judgement on the case will be delivered soon.
Masih’s conviction is coming after two Christian teenagers were also arrested and charged with blasphemy under the controversial Article 295-C of the Penal Code.
Adil Baber, 18, and Simon Nadeem, 12, were arrested on May 19 by order of a court. They hail from Lahore.
Reports say Zahid Sohail, a police officer, filed a complaint against the teenagers, alleging that he saw and heard them playing and calling a puppy dog “Muhammad Ali.” They denied the allegation.
The families of the two accused said they did not have a dog.
Simon’s mother, Samina Nadeem, said it was a misunderstanding, because the boys were talking about “Naswar” (chewy paste, popular in the country) whose brand is “Muhammad Ali.”
Sohail, who was passing by, began to assault the boys accusing them of blasphemy thus attracting a crowd. They were consequently taken into police custody to prevent lynching.
The lives of Pakistani Christians are constantly under threat, according to Nasir Saeed of the CLAAS organisation.
In its 2022 report, Open Doors, a US-based organisation, ranked Pakistan seventh among the countries of the world where it is difficult to follow Jesus.