Eight Christians on Pakistan’s ‘death row’
PAKISTAN (ANS) — At least eight Christians remain on death row in Pakistan after being convicted under the Islamic law of “blasphemy.”
BarnabasAid reports that while no Christians have been executed for “blasphemy,” many of them have been languishing in prison for years, according to statistics provided by CLAAS (Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement), which is supported by Barnabas Fund.
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Christian mother-of-five Aasia Bibi was released after spending eight years on death row when the Supreme Court acquitted her on October 31, 2018. It remains uncertain if her release was a “landmark ruling” that will improve the plight of Pakistan’s Christian minority – around 2% of the population, or about 4 million.
Aasia Bibi was freed from death row in Pakistan, but at least eight other Christians are still awaiting execution on “blasphemy” charges
The court freed Aasia Bibi because of flimsy and contradictory evidence, while simultaneously confirming that those who break the “blasphemy” law should be punished.
On May 1, 2019, police declared Christian Farhan Aziz innocent of “blasphemy” and released him after nine months in custody. At the time of Farhan’s arrest, an angry mob armed with steel rods and petrol cans congregated in a Christian area of Gujranwala, but police intervened to prevent an attack on Christians’ homes.
Pakistan is a country where the mere accusation of “blasphemy” against Muhammad is enough to incite a vigilante killing by a mob of angry Muslims. If a Christian is not lynched, then he or she can find themselves arrested and charged with “defiling the name” of Muhammad, a crime under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code that carries a mandatory death penalty.
Christians are often falsely accused of “blasphemy” by Muslims and the superiority given to a Muslim’s testimony compared to a non-Muslim makes it difficult for Christians to receive justice.