Christian Man Sentenced to Death in Pakistan for Alleged Blasphemy as Minor P-admin Atheist Republic

Read More Atheist Republic Last year, a trial court in Pakistan sentenced an innocent Christian man to death by hanging for committing blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad. The man was a minor when he was falsely accused of a crime he did not commit.
A Christian-based legal organization in the U.S., the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), has lodged a complaint with the United Nations (UN) to rescue the man sitting on death row. The affiliate of ACLJ, the Organization for Legal Aid (OLA) in Pakistan, represents his case.
Six years ago, Shahzad Masih, only 16 years old, was arrested under false allegations of blasphemy against the Holy Prophet. He was charged under Section 295-C (blasphemy law) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which states, “Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Christian man sentenced to death under 295C for alleged blasphemy as a minor. Shahzad Masih in July 2017, while working as a janitor in a hospital, was accused of blasphemy by member of sectarian outfit Tehrike Tahafuze Islam.
— Naila Inayat (@nailainayat) November 23, 2022
The interpretation of the blasphemy law in Pakistan is quite unclear. According to ACLJ, most blasphemy cases are fueled by either false accusations or personal hatred, and the same can be said for this case.
In July 2017, when Shahzad was working as a janitor at a local hospital, he encountered his co-worker Ishtiaq Ahmad Jalali. Jalali, a prominent member of an aggressive Muslim sectarian group, had a religious conversation with Shahzad about the Christian and Muslim Prophets. Shahzad said that he did not know much about religion and would later ask his father about it. When Jalali talked about Prophet Muhammad, Shahzad mentioned that a friend of his father named Ali would make disparaging comments when he learned about people who have ‘Muhammad’ in their names. Irritated, Jalali verbally abused Shahzad, his father, and his father’s friend by calling names and leaving the spot.
In the evening of that day, Shahzad was called to a mobile phone shop near the hospital. Shahzad was surrounded by dozens of men from the Muslim sect, Tehreek-e-Tahafuz-e-Islam (TTIP). The direct translation of the said group name is “movement to protect Islam.” Angry at Shahzad, these men inquired Shahzad what he said to Jalali. Sensing the imminent danger to his life, Shahzad told them about his father’s friend Ali, who uses disparaging remarks when he hears any name with ‘Muhammad’ in it.
At this point, it was clear that Shahzad was innocent. However, the men took Shahzad to a nearby Islamic religious school and handed him to the police. After that, a blasphemy case was registered against Shahzad.
All these points from the prosecution witnesses solidify the truth that Shahzad did not commit any crime. Merely talking about the crimes of another does not warrant the death penalty for anyone, yet, the man was arrested, charged, and tried for a crime that doesn’t even exist.

Petition To Free Christian Young Man Shahzad Masih From a Death Sentence
— AbolishBlasphemylaws (@EndBlasphemylws) December 19, 2022
Another vital part is the Superintendent of Police (SP), who investigated the case, gave a testimony in court that said, “During my investigation, I did not declare Shahzad Masih guilty.” He also said it was Jalali who started the religious conversation in the first place. The SP also clarified that Shahzad was a minor who had no knowledge about his religion or other religions at the time.
Even under Section 295-C of PPC, what Shahzad did does not constitute blasphemy.
According to the reports, members of TTIP and several Islamic clerics were routinely attending the court hearings to threaten the judge. After Shahzad was arrested, the leader of TTIP, Qari Saqib Jalali, posted on social media demanding the court punish Shahzad. And if the court does not comply with their demands, they will kill Shahzad with their own hands.

On the day of the trial, Qari Saqib Jalali was also present in the court. However, he left after doing a photoshoot in the courthouse, even before the judge concluded the trial as if he knew what the result was.
On November 22nd, 2022, after prolonging the trial for five years, Judge Amir Mukhtar Gondal sentenced Shahzad to death by hanging.

A 16-year-old Christian boy was arrested after being falsely accused of blasphemy and then sentenced to hang because of his Christian faith. We’re working to free him.
— ACLJ (@ACLJ) January 28, 2023
ACLJ filed an appeal in the High Court in Pakistan against this unjust decision, and a formal complaint was lodged with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD).
WAGD checks the legality of the detention under international human rights treaties and determines whether an individual’s detention is arbitrary (unlawful).
The complaint states that Pakistan violated various international human rights laws by arresting, falsely charging, prosecuting, and sentencing Shahzad to death. It also argued about Shahzad’s rights to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, his right to a fair trial, and equal treatment under the law.
ACLJ claims that all the evidence proves that Shahzad’s detention is arbitrary. They have urged the WGAD to take care of this case as soon as possible.