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Pakistan: Christian Jailed Despite Another’s Blasphemy Confession

For information about the Orthodox Mission in Pakistan, see here.

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

“Christian Jailed in Pakistan Despite another’s Blasphemy Confession,” Morning Star News, February 26, 2024:

LAHORE, Pakistan (Christian Daily International–Morning Star News) – A Catholic has languished in jail for six months on a blasphemy charge even though a teenage boy has confessed and told police the 34-year-old father had no part in the acts, sources said.

Zimran Asim’s family has been forced to leave their home after officials of the Counter-Terrorism Department and police arrested him in Chak No. 37 village, Sargodha District, Punjab Province on Aug. 27 on allegations that he helped desecrate pages of the Quran and wrote blasphemous content at three locations.

“The allegations against my younger brother are completely false and baseless,” the jailed co-defendant’s brother, Zeeshan Asim, told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. “Police have maliciously named him as an accused in the three cases of blasphemy even though his co-accused has confessed that he had carried out the actions single-handedly.”

Zimran Asim told family members that a Christian neighbor, 17-year-old Akash Masih, confessed to police that he was behind one blasphemy incident on July 16 and another within two weeks after Muslim villagers on Aug. 16 burned and looted Christian homes and businesses in response to a blasphemy allegation in Jaranwala. Police reportedly identified Akash from CCTV footage from a bookshop where he had bought a quranic booklet.

“Zimran got implicated with Akash because one day he had taken the boy on his motorcycle to get a gas cylinder filled from a neighboring village,” Zeeshan Asim said. “When the police circulated Akash’s photo taken from the CCTV footage in a bid to trace him, the gas vendor recognized him and informed the police that he had seen the boy with Zimran. This is how my brother landed in police custody.”

He said that when the family was finally able to meet Zimran in jail, he told them that Akash had immediately confessed to committing the acts deemed blasphemous.

“Akash told police that he was angry at the Muslims for persecuting Christians and burning churches in Jaranwala,” Zeeshan Asim said. “Zimran also told us that though Akash had categorically absolved him of involvement, the police still named him as an accessory in the three cases.”

Investigators accused Zimran Asim of acting as a lookout when Akash desecrated quranic pages and wrote the blasphemous content, Zeeshan Asim said.

Akash and Zimran Asim were booked under Sections 295-A, 295-B, 295-C and 298-A of the blasphemy statutes for three incidents that took place on July 16, Aug. 20 and Aug. 25, he said. Violations under 295-C, blaspheming Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, carries a mandatory death sentence.

“Police claim they have concrete evidence against Akash, but they have no proof of my brother’s involvement,” Zeeshan Asim told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. “The police know he’s innocent, yet they have made him a scapegoat and scarred him for life.”

Zimran Asim’s family was forced to leave their village after his arrest as village Muslims branded him and Akash as blasphemers and “spies,” he said….

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