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Pakistan: Christian cleaner for Koran publisher jailed for blasphemy

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, as we see here yet again, are frequently used to threaten and intimidate vulnerable religious minority communities. 

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan, see here.

“Christian cleaner of Koran publisher jailed for blasphemy,” by Shafique Khokhar, AsiaNews, June 14, 2022:

Karachi (AsiaNews) – In Pakistan, an adult Christian, Rehmat Masih, has been in prison for five months in a new fabricated blasphemy case. He is accused of profaning and desecrating the pages of the Koran, but in reality he allegedly simply refused an offer to change religion. The police also threatened the family, warning them not to prosecute the case. As a result, he had to move to a safer location.

Rehmat (44), the father of two teenage children, had worked for 20 years as a cleaner at the Zam Zam publishing house, which was responsible for printing and binding the Muslim holy text. The owners and employees had offered him to convert to Islam, but he had repeatedly refused to change religion.

On 28 December, Rehmat went to Zam Zam Publishers for his usual work. Here, he was asked about the defacement of some pages of the Koran found in the sewage drain. Rehmat replied that he was unaware of the missing holy pages from the publishing house.

On 3 January 2022, the police arrested Rehmat Masih accusing him of committing blasphemy and tortured him severely to make him admit to desecrating and desecrating the Koran, an offence under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code, punishable by life imprisonment.  

On 19 January 2022, a bail application was filed for the defendant, but the judge rejected it. In a hearing held on 31 May 2022, Rehmat Masih had his statement placed on record before the honorary judge, in which he stated that he ‘does not plead guilty to the charge of blasphemy brought against him’….

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