Pakistan: Christian father faces death penalty for alleged blasphemy

Wednesday, January 18, 2023 | Tag Cloud Tags: ,

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – A Christian father has been arrested and detained in Islamabad, on a charge of which carries the death penalty, Morning Star News (MSN) reports.

Ishtiaq Saleem, the 31-year-old father of one child, was arrested by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Cybercrime unit on November 29 last year, MSN reports. The arrest followed a complaint by Islamist Muhammad Imran, who accused Ishtiaq of posting and sharing blasphemous images of the prophet Muhammad on WhatsApp and Facebook.

In a statement asserting his son’s innocence, Saleem Masih, Ishtiaq’s father and a member of the Anglican Church of Pakistan, told MSN: “My son is a sensible man and has never indulged in such acts. Ishtiaq says that someone had shared the sacrilegious images in a social media group that inadvertently got downloaded to his phone. He says he hasn’t posted or shared those images anywhere because he didn’t even realize they were there until the time he was arrested by the FIA officials.”

Claiming they had found “sufficient incriminating evidence” on Ishtiaq’s phone, the FIA charged him under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s blasphemy statutes, prohibiting disrespect of Muhammad and punishable by death, and Section 295-B, against defiling the Koran and punishable by imprisonment for life and fine.

Ishtiaq’s family has now turned to the international church for support and help, as they are fearful for his and their own safety. “It is only now that we have shared this news to seek support for him as well as security for our family,” Masih told MSN.

Islamic majority Pakistan ranks 7th on the Open Doors UK World Watch List 2023 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.

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