Pakistan: A Christian Sentenced to Life in Prison for “Blasphemy”
A Christian falsely accused of “blasphemy” and who has been in prison ever since was sentenced on May 3, 2017, to life in prison by a court of Rawalpindi, in northern Pakistan.
Zafar Bhatti was charged on the basis of article 295 c of the Pakistani Penal Code – one of the so-called paragraphs on the “Law on Blasphemy” – and condemned for sending messages written on his cell phone.
According to the prosecution, they were “insults” against Islam. According to the Christian lawyers consulted by the press agency Fides on May 5, Pakistani courts “often” condemn persons accused of “blasphemy” to capital punishment.
In this case, the weakness of the proofs against Zafar Bhatti simply saved him from being condemned to death.
According to a lawyer at the head of an NGO that defends unjustly accused Christians, “the law on blasphemy is constantly being manipulated and used for vengeance in personal disputes.” Fides adds that the National Assembly of Pakistan “recently” approved a resolution “requesting measures to put an end to this sort of abuse”. But the requests met with “strong opposition from Islamic movements and parties”.