Pakistani Christian Man Sentenced to Death for ‘Blasphemous’ Text Messages

In July, a man accused of blasphemy was shot dead in a courtroom in the northwestern city of Peshawar [Muhammad Sajjad/AP Photo]

A court in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore has sentenced a Christian man to death for having committed “blasphemy”, his lawyer says, in the latest case of Pakistan’s strict religious laws being applied against minorities.

Asif Pervaiz, 37, has been in custody since 2013 when he was accused of having sent “blasphemous” text messages to a former supervisor at work, lawyer Saif-ul-Malook told Al Jazeera.

The court rejected his testimony wherein he denied the charges and sentenced him to death on Tuesday.

“The complainant was a supervisor in a hosiery factory where Asif was working under him,” said Malook.

“He denied the allegations and said that this man was trying to get him to convert to Islam.”

Speaking in his own defence in court earlier in the trial, Pervaiz claimed the supervisor confronted him after he quit work at the factory, and when he refused to convert he was accused of having sent blasphemous text messages to the man.

Blasphemy laws

Muhammad Saeed Khokher, the complainant in the case, denies wanting to convert Parvaiz, according to his lawyer, Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry.

“He has taken this defence after the fact, because he had no other clear defence,” Chaudhry told Al Jazeera. “That’s why he accused him of trying to convert him.”

Chaudhry said there were other Christian employees at the factory, but none have accused Khokher of proselytising.

Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws prescribe a mandatory death penalty for the crime of insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, and strict penalties for other infractions such as insulting Islam, the holy Quran or certain holy people.

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SOURCE: Al Jazeera, Asad Hashim