09/16/2017, 10.37
PAKISTAN
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Lahore, Christian condemned to death for 'blasphemy on Whatsapp'

The sentence was issued on 14 September. Nadeem James was detained in July 2016. A friend accused him of sending a poem that offends Islam. The lawyer will appeal to the High Court. He has received death threats and remains in prison.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Punjab Christian, Nadeem James,  was sentenced to death on charges of insulting the Prophet Muhammad on Whatsapp. The ruling was issued on 14 September by Lahore court, which accepted the accusation of Yasir Bashir. For security reasons, the verdict was read in jail. In fact, the Christian has been threatened with death by some imams who have promised to pay him and his family for having allegedly offended Islam.

Anjum Wakeel, a Christian advocate, said he would appeal to the High Court. In front of the higher-ranking judges, he hopes that the truth will be verified: that is, James was caught out by his friend, jealous of the sentimental relationship between the Christian and a Muslim girl.

James's case erupted in July 2016 when he was blamed for sending a blasphemous poem through the famous messaging application. He resided in the Father Colony of the city of Sraey Alamgir (Gujrat district), and had fled for fear of being killed by Muslims. At the time, Pakistan Christian Post denounced that to push him to hand himself over to the authorities, the local police arrested and abused his two sisters.

In Pakistan blasphemy is punished with the death penalty and divides society. Even the mere suspicion can provoke the violent reaction of Koran defenders. One example that stands out was the fierce lynching of Mashal Khan, a student at Mardan University, who was punished by college campus colleagues after the rumor of his comments "promoting the Ahmadiyah faith on Facebook", considered heretical by the Muslim majority.

Subsequently, an investigation by the Supreme Court ruled that the 23-year-old had never offended the prophet. Prior to him, at least another 62 people were killed between 1987 and 2015, including former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, punished for criticizing the "black law" on blasphemy and defending Asia Bibi, the Christian mother awaiting trial for seven years. She too, like Nadeem James, faces death for alleged blasphemy.

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