09/09/2020, 11.19
PAKISTAN
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Lahore, Asif Pervaiz, Christian, sentenced to death for blasphemy

by Shafique Khokhar

The 37-year-old man is accused of sending offensive messages about Islam on his Muslim boss's mobile phone. His boss was pressuring him to convert to Islam. Faced with a refusal, the employee was accused of blasphemy. Confessions extracted with beatings and arrests. Blogger: Is the blasphemy law a good law for humanity?

Lahore (AsiaNews) – 37-year-old father of four Asif Pervaiz was sentenced to death yesterday for blasphemy. According to the prosecution, he sent offensive texts about Islam the Koran and Muhammad on a mobile phone. According to the defence, the charge is an act of revenge by Asif's employer.

The accuser is Saeed Ahmed Khokhar, a Muslim, owner of a hosiery manufacturing company who filed a complaint on 2 October 2013.

Ahmed confirmed to the police that he had been receiving abusive messages on his mobile phone for several days. In his defense, Asif Pervaiz said it all happened after he decided to quit his job in the hosiery company because his supervisor, Muhammad Saeed Khokhar, tried to convert him to Islam. Faced with his resistance and refusal to change his religion, Asif was accused of sending blasphemous messages about Islam to his boss.

Muhammad Saeed Khokhar denied pressure to convert Asif. The Lahore court ruled that Asif did not offer enough evidence for his innocence and as there was enough material to charge him, he was sentenced to death.

Asif's lawyer, Saif-ul-Malook, explained that the court sentenced Asif even though there was no "evidence" implicating him personally. Asif will appeal against the sentence.

Commenting on the verdict, blogger Haroon Malik, who was a policeman in Punjab, said that "threatening religious minorities for vested interests under the umbrella of blasphemy laws is not good at all as per the teaching of Holy Book and this is not a sensible move according to the law as well. The strict laws which do not allow human being for repentance or there is no room for forgiveness, we must think about these laws whether this is good for humanity or not?".

“Unfortunately - he added - this law will require more blood in future as well, more people will be trapped into the false or true charges of blasphemy, but need of the hour is to have mercy in hearts Muslims so that we could make a peaceful society?”.

Asif's lawyer recalled that his client has lived in prison since 2013. When Pervaiz learned of the blasphemy charge against him, he fled and went into hiding. To catch him, the police arrested several of Asif's family members, including his two brothers-in-law and his mother Naseem Akhtar.

She said Asif's friend, Waseem Anwar, was beaten by police until he revealed Asif's hiding place. The accused was arrested on 10 October 2013 and held in prison until trial.

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