LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A Christian couple was arrested on Saturday (July 20) for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages to a Muslim cleric in Gojra, a religiously volatile city where a week before a young Christian man was sentenced to life in prison on the same charge.
Shafqat Masih, 43, and his 40-year-old wife Shagufta, who reportedly have four children between the ages of 5 and 11, were taken into custody on a complaint by Muslim cleric Rana Muhammad Ejaz, who alleged that he had received blasphemous text messages from Masih from a number registered in the name of Shagufta.
Gojra City police registered a case under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s widely condemned blasphemy laws for allegedly defaming Islam’s prophet, Muhammad. Conviction is punishable by death or life in prison, which is 25 years in Pakistan.
Saying police coerced him into recording a false admission of guilt, Masih has denied sending the text messages, according to an official at a Christian rights organization who requested anonymity.
“Shafqat says the couple has been framed in a false case,” the source said. “He says that the police had forced him to record his confession before the magistrate.”
The official said two lawyers representing his organization had met with Shafqat.
“The case is quite complex,” he said.
The accusation is the third known incident in Pakistan of Christians charged for allegedly sending blasphemous content via cell phones. The first was registered in Karachi against Qamar David, who was allegedly killed in Karachi Central Prison in 2011 (official cause of death was heart attack). In the second case, 29-year-old Sajjad Masih was sentenced to life imprisonment and fined 200,000 rupees (US$1,980) in Gojra on July 13 (see Morning Star News, July 15).
Accusations of blasphemous text message could be a dangerous trend, as obtaining and activating SIM cards on someone else’s national identity card is not difficult in Pakistan. Such evidence is hard to challenge in court, leaving people of all faiths at risk of being falsely convicted of blasphemy. (Continue Reading)
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Two More Pakistani Christians Jailed for Allegedly Sending Blasphemous Text Messages
Welcome to Pakistan. Same old Islamic blasphemy laws, but with new technology to trace the blasphemy.