A Christian man in Pakistan has reportedly been sentenced to death under the nation’s controversial blasphemy laws.
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Noman Masih, 22, was handed the death penalty by a court in Bahawalpur, Pakistan, leading to shock and lament from his attorney and family.
Problems began for Masih on July 1, 2019, when he was reportedly arrested by police, just days after his cousin, Sunny Waqas, was detained on a blasphemy charge.
Waqas was later released on bail, though it’s unclear where his case currently stands.
Masih’s father, Asghar Masih, said the allegations against his son are baseless, and that Noman was sleeping when police allege he was showing blasphemous images of Muhammad, the preeminent Islamic prophet, to people at 3:30 a.m. in a local park.
The grieving dad said he and his wife are heartbroken over the death sentence but have not lost faith.
“Our hearts broke today when our counsel informed us about the death verdict,” he told Morning Star News. “But our faith in Christ has not waivered, and we trust God that He will rescue us from this suffering.”
Lazar Allah Rakha, an attorney for Masih, told Morning Star News the verdict was given without evidence to back the blasphemy charges.
Rakha expressed dismay over the handling of the case, which was based on the claim Masih had committed blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad, the preeminent Islamic prophet.
Death is the charge for such a violation under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, though Rakha said the case was based on little to no furnished evidence, with contradictions abounding.
“I’m extremely disappointed by the conviction, because there was absolutely no case,” Rakha said. “There was no proof against Noman, and none of the witnesses produced by police could corroborate the blasphemy allegation against him.”
The lawyer continued, “This is murder of justice.”
Rakha plans to appeal the case, though there is reportedly also a second blasphemy case pending against Masih, with the verdict in that separate case set to be announced this month, according to Morning Star News.
Read more about the heartbreaking case here.
Pakistan is ranked the seventh worst place in the world for Christians to live, according to Open Doors. Believers are considered “second-class citizens” and face intense discrimination.
“Although there were no major attacks against churches last year, there are almost constant attacks against individuals,” Open Doors’ “World Watch List” report reads. “Believers who have converted from Islam are the most vulnerable to persecution.”
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