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    Post Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy

    Pakistan court sentences Christian man to death for blasphemy
    Lawyer says Sawan Masih's death sentence is over incident that triggered riot among 3,000 Muslims in Lahore


    A court in Pakistan has sentenced a Christian man to death for blasphemy, his lawyer said, over an incident that triggered a riot in the country's second-largest city.

    Sawan Masih was convicted of insulting the prophet Muhammad during the course of a conversation with a Muslim friend in the Joseph Colony neighbourhood of Lahore in March last year.

    More than 3,000 Muslims rioted, torching about 100 Christian homes in Joseph Colony, after the allegations against Masih emerged.

    Naeem Shakir, one of Masih's lawyers, told AFP: "The judge has announced the death sentence for Sawan Masih. We will appeal the sentence in the Lahore high court."

    Verdict and sentence were announced inside the jail where Masih was held, Shakir said. The country has had a de facto moratorium on civilian hangings since 2008. Only one person has been executed since then, a soldier convicted by court martial.

    Pakistan has strict laws against defaming Islam, including the death penalty for insulting the prophet Muhammad, and rights campaigners say they are often used to settle personal disputes.

    Masih has maintained his innocence and argued the real reason for the blasphemy allegation was a property dispute between him and his friend.

    No one was killed in the riot in Joseph Colony last year but the incident highlighted the sensitivity of blasphemy in Pakistan. About 97% of the 180 million population are Muslim, and even unproven allegations can trigger a violent public response.

    Earlier this month, an angry mob set fire to a Hindu temple in the southern city of Larkana over the alleged desecration of a copy of the Qur'an.

    A recent report from a US government advisory panel said Pakistan used blasphemy laws more than any other country in the world, listing 14 people on death row and 19 others serving life sentences for insulting Islam.

    In January, an elderly Briton was sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy, though his lawyers said the court had failed to consider "overwhelming" evidence of his mental illness.

    Pakistan court sentences Christian man to death for blasphemy | World news | theguardian.com


 

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