Imprisoned in Lahore on blasphemy charges, Christian man’s ordeal continues
Anwar Masih, 57, has been in prison for more than two years after he was accused by the police of defaming Muhammad following a family dispute. His family lives in hiding after receiving death threats. Activists and human rights lawyers are calling for fair judicial treatment in blasphemy cases.
Lahore (AsiaNews) – The ordeal of Anwar Masih continues. The 57-year-old Christian has been held in prison for more than two years for what his family and human rights advocates believe are false accusations of blasphemy.
His latest attempt to get bail was turned down by a local court. The case arose after his daughter, Samreen Bibi, married a Muslim in 2017 and converted to Islam. Soon after, the defendant's wife, Kousar Parveen, also converted to Islam.
To heal frictions created in the family by the situation, Kousar turned to the local police. Instead of mediating, law enforcement accused Anwar of mistreating his wife and daughter for their decision to convert.
On 2 June 2020, he was arrested for allegedly defaming the Prophet Muhammad, a criminal offence in Pakistan.
Imran Masih, one of Anwar's sons, told AsiaNews that his brothers and sisters have come under pressure to become Muslims to prove that their family is not against Islam, adding that he and his family have received death threats and that they have been forced to live in hiding.
In fact, his family's Christian faith is strong, he explains, and that they are ready to offer their lives to remain faithful to God.
Voice for Justice, an advocacy group, and human rights lawyers are calling on judicial authorities to discourage abuse of the blasphemy law and release those jailed on fabricated evidence. Cases like Anwar's, they argue, must be treated without discrimination.