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Pakistan: Two Christian men charged under controversial blasphemy law

ANI | Updated: Feb 18, 2021 20:07 IST

Lahore [Pakistan], February 18 (ANI): Two Christians in Pakistan have been charged with blasphemy for their alleged insulting remarks against Islam's holy book and the Prophet.
The police of Pakistan's Punjab said on Wednesday said that they are seeking the arrest of the two men, who have been identified as Haroon Ayub and Salamat Mansha, Pakistan Today reported.
The case was filed last Saturday on the complaint of a local resident, an investigating officer said.
He provided no further details and only said they were still investigating to determine whether the two minority Christians made derogatory remarks about the Quran and Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during a discussion on religion.
Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law carries an automatic death penalty for anyone convicted of insulting God, Islam, or other religious figures.
Many members of the minority communities in Pakistan - the Ahmadis, Hindus, Christians and Sikhs were charged with draconian blasphemy law. Many of them are languishing in jails on the false charges of disrespecting the Quran.

Citing a 2016 Amnesty International report, FRANCE 24 Observers reported that it is difficult to establish precise information on the number of blasphemy cases in Pakistan as there is limited available data.
However, according to figures compiled by the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) and cited by Amnesty, at least 1,335 people were accused of blasphemy in Pakistan between 1987 and 2016.
According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, at least 40 people have convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan are currently facing life sentences or the death penalty.
Pakistan's population is comprised of 96 per cent Muslims. Although most of the people accused of blasphemy in the country are Muslims, minorities like Christians, Hindus, and Ahmadis (a persecuted sect of Islam that the government has legally declared "non-Muslim"), are disproportionately affected by these laws.
Although they make up about 3.8 per cent of the population, about 50 per cent of reported blasphemy cases are filed against them.
According to the NCJP, 633 Muslims, 494 Ahmadis, 187 Christians and 21 Hindus have been accused since 1987, reported FRANCE 24 Observers.
Moreover, Anneqa Maria, a lawyer in Pakistan who defends those accused of blasphemy, said that blasphemy law is often misused as a tool to settle grudges. (ANI)