09/19/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – On September 8, Asif Pervaiz was sentenced to death by a trial court in Lahore, Pakistan for allegedly committing blasphemy. The legal team defending Pervaiz filed an appeal with the Lahore High Court on September 14 seeking to overturn the death sentence.
Pervaiz, a 37-year-old Pakistani Christian, was convicted of committing blasphemy and sentenced to death for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages in 2013. According to the Pervaiz’s attorney, the death sentence was announced by the court despite there being “no evidence” to implicate his client in the case.
The initial blasphemy accusation against Pervaiz was made by a Muslim co-worker in October 2013. In October 2013, Saeed Ahmeed Khokar accused Pervaiz of sending him blasphemous text messages from his mobile phone. Blasphemy charges under Sections 295-A, 295-B, and 295-C of Pakistan’s Penal Code were registered against Pervaiz at the Green Town Police Station in Lahore and he was arrested on October 10, 2013.
According to Pervaiz’s family, Pervaiz and Khokar were coworkers at a garments factory named Shami Textile, located in the Youhanabad neighborhood of Lahore. At work, Khokar often pressured Pervaiz to convert to Islam, which Pervaiz refused. Prior to Khokar’s accusation, Pervaiz reportedly lost his mobile phone’s SIM card and did not request the company to deactivate it. According to Pervaiz’s family, Khokar used the lost SIM card to send the blasphemous text messages he used to register the false accusation against Pervaiz.
In Pakistan, false accusations of blasphemy are widespread and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. Accusations are highly inflammatory and have the potential to spark mob lynchings, vigilante murders, and mass protests.
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