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Pakistan: Court grants bail to Christian jailed in blasphemy case when he was 16 years old

The case of Nabeel Masih provides yet another example of how the persecution of Christians in Pakistan is frequently justified by that nation’s draconian blasphemy laws, which are all too often manipulated and misused in order to victimize Christians and other religious minorities, and leave them with no recourse. Christians in Pakistan are targeted with accusations that are often just a cover for attempts to settle personal grudges, appropriate their property, or achieve some other end. In this case, the accused was only sixteen years old at the time of his arrest, and has been in prison for three years.

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, calls upon the international human rights community to bring pressure upon the government of Pakistan to repeal these unjust laws, and allow the Christians of the nation to practice their faith in peace and live in peace.

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

“Pakistani court grants bail to Christian in blasphemy case,” by Babar Dogar, Associated Press, March 1, 2021:

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — A Pakistani court on Monday granted bail to a Christian man convicted in 2018 while still a teenager of insulting Islam by posting a picture of Islam’s holiest site on social media, a defense lawyer said.

The court order in the eastern city of Lahore came more than four years after Nabeel Masih was arrested. He was detained after a mob accused him of committing blasphemy by sharing a picture of Kaaba in Mecca on Facebook. He was 16 years old at the time.

According to his lawyer, Naseeb Anjum, Masih was granted bail by the Lahore High Court. It was unclear exactly when Masih would be freed.

Blasphemy has been a contentious issue in Pakistan. Domestic and international human rights groups say blasphemy allegations have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and to settle personal scores.

In 2018, Masih became the youngest blasphemy convict in Pakistan when the court sentenced him to 10 years in prison. Since then, the British Asian Christian Association has been supporting a legal battle for his release.

Anjum said he will try to quickly complete the paperwork to free Masih, now 20 years old. “I will continue this legal fight for his acquittal,” he added.

Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, a lawyer for the man who leveled the original accusation against Masih, confirmed that Masih was granted bail, but provided no further details….

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