Angry scenes in Punjab after Pakistani Christian man arrested for “blasphemy”

14 August 2020

An angry Muslim mob forced its way into a Pakistan police station on 5 August after a Christian man was arrested for alleged “blasphemy” in Punjab province.

Sohail Masih, from Abidabad, Nowshera Virkan, was accused by a local Muslim leader of insulting Islam in a Facebook post.

Christian Sohail Masih was accused by a Muslim leader of allegedly insulting Islam on a Facebook post

A crowd gathered outside the police station became enraged when they heard that a case had not been registered against Sohail, and some forced their way inside.

Sohail was later charged under sections 295-A and 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code. The charge of “defiling the name” of Muhammad (295-C) carries the death penalty.

Extra police were sent to the area to prevent outbreaks of violence against Christians by angry Muslim mobs that have marked previous “blasphemy” arrests. Even when accused Christians have been cleared of “blasphemy” allegations, it may never be safe for them to return home because of the threat from the local Muslim community.

To date no one has been executed under the “blasphemy” law, but a number of Christians and others have received death sentences. Aasia Bibi, who was in prison for more than nine years and sentenced to death for “blasphemy”, was acquitted by the Supreme Court in October 2018, and later moved to Canada.

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