Sunday, January 30, 2005

Pakistan: Christian Acquitted of Blasphemy

Pakistan: Christian Acquitted of Blasphemy
Charisma News Service

A Christian was recently acquitted of blasphemy in Lahore, but he has been forced to stay in hiding because of death threats. On Dec. 17, Anwer Masih was found innocent, making him the first Pakistani Christian ever acquitted of blasphemy in the nation's lower courts, Compass Direct reported. Masih, 32, was arrested Nov. 30, 2003 for "disturbing someone's religious feelings" and slandering a religious prophet. A neighbor of Masih who had converted from Christianity to Islam claimed that he had mocked his new beard and derided Islamic beliefs. Masih was held in the jail for six months and released on bail on June 4, 2004. But Justin Gill, Masih's lawyer, said his client remains in hiding, unable to be reunited with his wife and four children since his acquittal a month ago, Compass reported. Fanatic extremists from the Lashkar-e-Mujahideen (Islamic Religious Army) have vowed to kill Masih over his alleged remarks against the prophet Muhammad. In a handwritten threat sent to Masih after he was released on bail, the group warned Masih that only heavy police security at his court hearings on Dec. 17 had prevented them from shooting him. (
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