PAKISTAN – ‘BLASPHEMY LAWS’ USED TO JAIL ELDERLY CHRISTIAN

 (Compass Direct News) – A Muslim vying with a Christian for a parcel of land here has accused the elderly man of “blaspheming” Islam’s prophet Muhammad, which is punishable by death or life imprisonment, according to the Christian Lawyers’ Foundation (CLF). Jhumray police on June 19 arrested Rehmat Masih of village No. 165/RB Jandawali in Faisalabad district under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s controversial “blasphemy laws,” and he was sent to Faisalabad District Jail on judicial remand by Magistrate Muhammad Sajawal. Christian sources said Masih, who suffers from arthritis, is 85 years old, though the First Information Report against him lists his age as 73. The CLF’s Rai Navid Zafar Bhatti told Compass that hard-line Muslim Muhammad Sajjid Hameed filed the charges after learning that he would not be able to secure the Punjab Province land. CLF President Khalid Gill said local Christian residents led by Masih had applied to the Punjab government to secure the land for construction of a Christian residential area, and Hameed had applied for the same parcel for commercial projects. Masih had argued with Hameed and other Muslims about the Virgin Mary in April. Hameed has testified in court that Masih made derogatory remarks about Muhammad and Khadija, the first wife of the founder of the religion, Bhatti said. Gill said Masih has testified that he said nothing “humiliating” about Muhammad or Khadija. “I am not a blasphemer, nor I can think of such a sinister thing, which is against the teachings of Christ,” Masih testified, according to Gill.

 

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