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Supreme Court of Pakistan Grants Bail in Blasphemy Case

LAHORE, Pakistan, August 24, 2022 (Morning Star News) A two-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday (Aug. 23) granted bail to a Christian in a blasphemy case, with among the justices expressing concern over blatant misuse of regulations, the attorney of the accused said.

Attorney Rana Abdul Hameed said this is the very first time a blasphemy suspect charged under all three parts of the statutes 295-A, 295-B and 295-C had received bail during trial.

It had been only the next time the Supreme Court of Pakistan granted bail in a blasphemy case. On Jan. 6 it granted bail to Nadeem Samson, a Christian accused of posting blasphemous content on Facebook in 2017. Samsons trial had continued beyond 2 yrs, entitling him to bail, whereas in Masihs case the bail was granted on merits of the argument.

The initial blasphemy case bail in a sessions court was granted on Sept. 23, 2021, to two Christian nurses charged under 295-B with defiling the Koran.

With Justice Qazi Fael Isa expressing regret that accusations of blasphemy are so easily and commonly leveled, he and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah granted the release of Salamat Mansha Masih on a bond of 50,000 rupees (US$230) and ordered that their ruling be distributed to all trial and high courts in order that innocent persons aren’t wrongfully charged under this type of serious offense as blasphemy, Hameed said.

Isa added that hawaii must be sure protection of suspects in blasphemy cases until cases are resolved, the attorney said.

Masih, 27, was arrested on Feb. 13, 2021, from Lahores Model Town Park after Muslims overheard him and another Christian, Haroon Ayub Masih, reading the Bible in a park and accused them of ridiculing Islam and its own prophet, Hameed said. He added that Haroon Masih went into hiding since obtaining pre-arrest bail.

Salamat Masih, a sanitation worker, was in police custody for just two months and three days before appearing before a judge on April 16, Hameed said. Masihs previous lawyer, Aneeqa Maria, previously told Morning Star News that police mentally and physically tortured Masih to force a confession.

A sessions judge had dismissed Salamats bail application this past year as the Lahore High Court had also denied him bail in June this season, Hameed said.I moved his bail in the Supreme Court the other day.

Four university students had accused Masih of committing blasphemy while preaching Christianity and in addition providing them with a book in Urdu that allegedly contained sacrilegious matter, he said.

The attorney said he told the court that the book, Zindagi Ka Paani or Water of Life, was in line with the Gospel of John and didn’t contain any sacrilegious matter against any religion an undeniable fact also conceded by the concerned Lahore senior officer from the prosecution side.

Hameed said the prosecution didn’t furnish convincing proof blasphemy. He also argued that the initial Information Report was registered against Masih following a delay of eight hours, and that his arrest was induced record after 8 weeks of illegal custody.

The judges questioned the prosecution that the incident occurred in a park but no-one, like the security guards, were made a witness to it, Hameed added. Justice Isa also regretted the tendency of levelling accusations, and said almost every other person gets up and starts accusing folks of committing blasphemy.

He quoted Isa as saying, This is simply not a petty crime, but its penalty is really a life sentence.

Section 295-C specifies disrespect of Muhammad, prophet of Islam, and is punishable by death; 295-B pertains to defiling of the Koran and is punishable by imprisonment forever and fine, and 295-A covers deliberate and malicious acts designed to outrage religious feelings, punishable by around 10 years in prison and an excellent.

When Isa asked the plaintiffs counsel why Pakistan was made, the attorney replied that in accordance with Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948), founder of Pakistan, the united states was founded as a laboratory of Islam.

When did Quaid-e-Azam say this? Isa asked. Generals already attribute lots of things to him [Jinnah], lawyers shouldn’t take action.

Hameed said Isa also noted he had never heard about a Christian filing a blasphemy case against a Muslim.

False Accusations

Blasphemy accusations in Pakistan often provoke mob violence and lynching of suspects, while penalties are light for individuals who make such false accusations.

Church leaders and rights activists say that subordinate courts capitulate to Islamist pressure, leading to convictions in virtually all blasphemy cases.

Numerous people have already been sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy. In January, a Rawalpindi court sentenced a Muslim woman to death after finding her guilty of insulting Islams prophet in texts she delivered to a friend. The girl, Aneeqa Ateeq, was arrested in-may 2020 following a man told police that she sent him blasphemous caricatures via WhatsApp.

In December 2021, a mob descended on a sports equipment factory in Sialkot, lynching Sri Lankan Priyantha Kumara and burning his body publicly over allegations of blasphemy. The incident drew nationwide condemnation, and authorities arrested a large number of people over involvement in Kumaras killing, but there’s been no legislation to avoid such fake allegations.

Pakistan ranked eighth on Open Doors 2022 World Watch Set of the 50 countries where it really is most difficult to become a Christian. The united states had the second-highest amount of Christians killed for his or her faith, behind Nigeria, with 620 slain through the reporting period from Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021. Pakistan had the fourth-highest amount of churches attacked or closed, with 183, and overall.

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Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Oleksii Liskonih

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