Lahore: Another victim of Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy law. A Lahore court sentenced to death a mechanic named Ashfag Masih, who was jailed on the grounds that a dispute related to the repair of a vehicle was portrayed as a charge of blasphemy. The charge of blasphemy was in retaliation for breaking the bike owner who said he could not pay the worker because he was a Muslim. During the dispute, the complainant was also angered by the testimony that Christ is supreme for Christians.
The incident related to the case took place in June 2017. The trouble started with the repair of a Muslim customer’s bike. When Masih asked for his wages, he made a request for exemption as he was a Muslim believer. It was broken when Masih refused the request saying that he was a Christian. The crowd gathered accusing him of disrespecting the Prophet Muhammad. The media also reports that the mechanic was arrested after saying that Christ is supreme for Christians.
There was also delay in hearing the case of Masih, who was jailed from the day the case was registered. The challenge was based on a number of reasons, such as the absence of the judge, the absence of the witness, and the absence of the plaintiff’s counsel. In 2019, he was granted parole to attend his mother’s funeral but was jailed soon after. It is reported that after his arrest, the family fled from Lahore due to fear. He has a wife and a daughter.
Pakistan’s blasphemy law is internationally notorious for its potential for abuse. Charges of blasphemy are often made even if there is no evidence. Allegation is enough to get jailed. Abuse of the blasphemy law is common even in disputes with neighbors. The US International Commission on Religious Freedom points out that there are at least 80 people in Pakistani jails who have been charged with blasphemy. Despite international protests against the controversial law, the government of Pakistan is not yet ready to repeal or amend the law.