Pakistani Christians Face Death Penalty For Blasphemy
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Two Christians could face execution in Pakistan after being summoned by police for evangelizing among Muslims, Christians confirmed.
A complaint of “blasphemy” was filed against Haroon Ayub Masih and Salamat Mansha Masih on February 13 following their talks with Muslims in the Model Town area of Pakistan’s Lahore city.
Muslim student Haroon Ahmed reportedly alleged to police that the Pakistani men approached him and his friends in a community park. He said the devoted Christians handed them a Christian booklet titled “Water of Life.”
They “also talked about Christianity,” Ahmed said in published remarks. He claimed the Christians made derogatory remarks about Muhammed, the prophet, and the Koran, deemed a holy book by Muslims.
Advocacy activists involved in the case said that police are investigating the allegations and the two Christian men. “They have been summoned to attend the police station by February 27 to record statements or face arrest,” explained Barnabas Fund, an aid and advocacy group.
Barnabas Fund fears the detentions are a prelude to execution. “Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code stipulates a mandatory death sentence for anybody found guilty of “defiling the name” of Muhammad”, the prophet, the group added.
It has added to concerns about Blasphemy cases against Christians in the Islamic nation. By the end of 2020, some 22 Christians were out on death row in Pakistan on “blasphemy” charges, including four minors, according to Barnabas Fund investigators.
Seven have been sentenced to death, representatives said. “To date, no one has been executed. But since 1990 at least 15 Christians have been murdered extra-judicially by zealous Muslims because of “blasphemy” allegations, “ Barnabas Fund told Worthy News.
The group added that many were accused “even before their trial could be conducted in accordance with the law.”
Pakistan’s notorious “blasphemy” laws are often used to make false accusations to settle personal disputes, according to rights activists. Christians are especially vulnerable, as simply stating their beliefs can be construed as “blasphemy”, according to officials familiar with the situation.
“The courts usually favor the testimony of Muslims, in accordance with sharia (Islamic law), Barnabas Fund added.
Pakistan’s government pledged in December to step-up the protection of Christians and other minorities and promote religious tolerance. Authorities also saw a need to protect all victims of false “blasphemy”, as well as Christians and other minorities from forced marriage to Muslims, Barnabas said.
To tackle “forced conversions” the government appointed Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Religious Harmony and the Middle East.
“A respected Muslim scholar and Chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC), Ashrafi directly advises Prime Minister Imran Khan on interreligious matters, ” noted Barnabas Fund. He “has set up a grievance helpline to resolve complaints of false “blasphemy” accusations or any threats made on religious grounds.”
If you are interested in articles produced by Worthy News, please check out our FREE sydication service available to churches or online Christian ministries. To find out more, visit Worthy Plugins.