All the world heard the horrific story of Asia Bibi (also known as Aasiya Noreen). The Pakistani Christian wife and mother, finally acquitted after 8 years, was sentenced to death on trumped up charges of blasphemy. At the time, Christian advocates stressed, there are many, many more Asia Bibis!
The latest “Asia Bibi” is Asif Pervaiz, Christian husband and father of four. A court in Lahore, Pakistan sentenced Pervaiz to death on false accusations of blasphemy. Pervaiz has been in prison since he was charged, seven years ago. In October 2013, Pervaiz was accused by his former supervisor at the garment factory where he worked, of sending him text messages insulting Mohammed.
As with all fake charges of blasphemy, the charges against Pervaiz are not logical. There is no way a rational, thinking person would ever truly believe that a Christian would deliberately blaspheme against Islam, the Koran, or Mohammed knowing what awaits them if they do.
To insult Mohammed or anything to do with the Islam can be punished with a death sentence in Pakistan. Do we seriously believe that any Christian would be foolish enough to use his own cell phone to send a message to an angry Muslim that could get him the death sentence? He or she would just as soon touch a live electric wire or drink cyanide!
According to a story in Morning Star News, Pervaiz says Saeed Ahmeed Khokar made the false accusation after Pervaiz refused to convert to Islam. The Christian is blessed to have Muslim attorney, Saiful Malook, who defended Asia Bibi, defending him. Malook entered an appeal against the verdict on September 14. Morning Star News reported “Malook said the prosecution’s case was so weak that he could not fathom why the judge had ruled against his client.”
Pervaiz has said he had lost his SIM card some days before the alleged incident, which Khokhar misused to send derogatory text messages to his own number, the attorney said.
“In his statement to the court, Pervaiz had categorically said that the complainant used to pressure him to renounce his Christian faith and convert to Islam,” Malook said. “Pervaiz said that due to the complainant’s constant harassment, he was forced to leave his job at the factory, but the latter continued to hound him at his new workplace.”
First Information Report (FIR) was initially registered against “unknown person,” and Pervaiz’s name was added to it later using a different pen, which clearly points to mala fide, Malook said.Morning Star News continued.
There are many examples of such irrational accusations, but the charges against Pervaiz are almost on a par in terms of illegitimacy with the 1993 case of young Salamat Masih. Masih was only 12 when he and two older men were accused, charged, convicted, and sentenced to death for using a chunk of brick to scribble insults to Islam on the wall of a mosque!
There were holes in the case large enough through which to drive an SUV full of Taliban. The evidence that should have been on the mosque wall? Conveniently, the enraged imam who accused the three men (later two, because more enraged Islamists shot all three defendants and killed one) eliminated the “evidence” because it was too offensive to view. Also conveniently, the “evidence” was too offensive to repeat to the court. It was a case of “just take my word” by the imam, which of course, under Sharia, is worth twice as much as the word of a non-Muslim. Never mind that Salamat Masih and one of the adults accused were illiterate! (Their conviction was overturned by an appeals court, but necessitated fleeing the country.)
The imam in Salamat Masih’s case probably was the one who scratched those unspeakably offensive words on the wall of his own mosque. At the very least, he told some other Muslim to do it. Either way, in actuality it would be a Muslim that committed blasphemy!
In the same way, Khokar used this Christian man’s SIM card to text messages to his own phone that violated the country’s blasphemy laws. Maybe the court should go after Khokar instead!
In any case, please pray for Asif Pervaiz, that his case can be successfully appealed as quickly as possible. Pray for all the Christians in Pakistan who face such misery just because they are Christians. And pray for all those — Christian and Muslim alike — who are victimized by these egregious Blasphemy Laws. Pakistan should take a page from Sudan and work to end its discriminatory and inhuman practices.