Pakistan: Christian man in prison for 4 years awaiting trial for blasphemy

Monday, June 27, 2022 | Tag Cloud Tags: ,

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – A Christian man in Pakistan has been in prison for over four years after an Islamic extremist group accused him of insulting Muhammad in a Facebook post, Morning Star News (MSN) reports.

Patras Masih of Shahdara Town near Lahore was 18 years old when he was arrested for committing blasphemy after he posted a Facebook photo which local members of the Islamic extremist group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) deemed offensive to Muhammad, MSN. He has been imprisoned pending trial and has been repeatedly denied bail.

In a statement to MSN, Masih’s attorney, Aneeqa Maria of The Voice Society, said: “From the beginning of the case, the trial court has shown bias and discrimination towards Patras.” Five bail applications have been filed on Masih’s behalf, including one at the Supreme Court last month, to no avail, Maria said.

Parallel to the denial of bail is the issue of the trial date being delayed while the defendant is in prison, MSN said. According to Maria, the trial court gave a false report when the Lahore High Court asked for an explanation of the delay: the trial date said Masih’s legal team was to blame.“In the report, the trial court blamed us for causing delay, whereas its own record and orders show that our legal team was present in each hearing to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses, but they did not show up,” Maria said.

Although the High Court has ordered the trial court to get on and hear the case, the matter is still being passed around from judge to judge, Maria said.

With harsh blasphemy laws that are used to bring false charges against believers, Pakistan ranks 8th on the US Open Doors Watch List 2022 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.

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